Varsity Tutors Scholarship Entry

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Christina of Wilmington, MA
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Unafraid - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay

What is life, if you are not living it to the fullest? Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” She provided an answer to a question that surrounds many people’s lives, and is directly related to events that have influenced my own life greatly.

Traveling is one of the great thrills of life, and an experience that enriches the souls of people everywhere. I have been able to take advantage of many trips, and they have caused my perspective on life to be altered greatly. Through travel opportunities, I have become someone who is eager to experience lifestyles and cultures of people all across the world. I have sought adventure and closure through the trips I have taken, and eagerly await the next time I have a plane ticket in my hands.

My first trip abroad took me to Austria in 2011, and it was the greatest experience of my life. Before boarding the plane, I was apprehensive about the content of the trip. My thoughts were along the lines of how could I have any fun in Austria, it was going to be so boring, and so on and so forth. Upon landing back in Boston ten days later, I was a changed person. I fell in love with the historically rich country of Austria, and the incredible people that live there. My predisposition towards the trip was entirely superficial, and it taught me that the riches of life often lay in the most unexpected places. One of the most moving experiences of my trip to Austria occurred on a bright sunny day in the quaint town of Mauthausen. Driving through the town, which lays along the Danube River, I never would have guessed we were visiting a WWII Concentration Camp - had I not known the itinerary. Upon reaching the gates of Mauthausen Concentration Camp, I was transported to another time. The beauty of the town below had vanished, and I was now standing in a place where Nazism ran its course. Seeing bunks of prisoners and even the gas chambers of the camp impacted my life in a way that can never be matched. I experienced the camp fully and without fear. It changed my perspective and connected me with the intense history that had unfolded on the ground beneath my own feet. This trip and the experiences I had sparked a fire inside of my spirit. Because I had a taste of the wonders of traveling abroad, I now live with an extreme desire to see everything, go everywhere, and do everything that this world has to offer.

My love for travel brought me abroad again in 2013, to my ancestral homeland of Ireland. I traveled to Ireland with Strings Attached, the orchestra that I play in; just as I had to Austria. This trip served as means for my family to go back to our roots, and experience the land of our ancestors. While in Ireland, I was faced with new experiences, and embraced them entirely. The most influential experience of my time in Ireland was on our way to Dublin when we made a stop at a local private high school. Here, we played a small concert during lunch for the all-female student body, and then had free time to socialize. Upon chatting with a group of the girls, we realized how many common interests we share. We have similar music tastes, high school experiences (to an extent), favorite books, and so much more. We all still keep in touch through Twitter, and it was a total eye-opener for me. I realized that to fully experience life, you have to break through uncomfortable silences to create life-long bonds; sometimes with people you would have never expected to. New experiences are always uncomfortable, but immersing oneself without fear is the key to fully participating in life and taking advantage of all other cultures have to offer.

Putting aside fears and taking on new adventures is never an easy thing. I have learned over the course of my life that taking risks and trying new things will usually lead to incredible experiences. I have followed this personal belief to the point where I am embarking on a journey to Costa Rica this spring. I seek great adventure and evolution within myself. It is something that is out of my comfort zone, due to its extensive ecological itinerary and my lack of experience in all things ecological, but I am eager to completely lose myself in the purity of Costa Rica and its culture. Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote relates to my experience as she and I both agree that without risks, life, spirit, and soul will never be enriched. Living with an open mind and heart has brought me to the point where I seek enrichment from people of other cultures, and strive to live my life to the fullest through always accepting the challenge of new adventures.