It sounds like a tale straight out of a soap opera, or, maybe more precisely, from a horror film — my mom got on the back of a moped with a boy she had just met (on the way to a nude beach, although she likes to leave that part out), and ended up getting thrown across the pavement of Greece. Suddenly people she didn’t understand were wheeling her into an unmarked van.
This is the story my mother loves to tell most about her study abroad experience back in the eighties. While she, of course, had a whole semester of fun in England before she went backpacking and made some *questionable* decisions, she remembers this moment as being the single most influential event of her young life. Thank goodness, the unmarked van was headed to the hospital, and although she broke her leg, everything ended up working itself out.
But it’s easy to see why this occurrence is the one she likes to share, and the one that permeates her memory most clearly — it’s often our mistakes that change and teach us the most. This upcoming spring, I am studying abroad in Granada, Spain, and I am so ready for the experience of a lifetime. I cannot wait for the opportunity and privilege to make a whole host of life-altering mistakes myself. Of course, I will [hopefully] learn from the ones my mother made at the same age as me — and not board a moped with a stranger — but the mistakes I make will nonetheless forever change the person I will become.
And I cannot wait to see who I will be when I get back.