Alumni Spotlight: Anna Socha

Anna is from Seattle, Washington. She enjoyed sports and the outdoors throughout high school and after taking her gap year is enrolled in University of Victoria on Vancouver Island for the fall.

Thinking beyond borders participant

Why did you pick this program?

Anna: I picked this program because I knew I wanted to travel, and I knew I wanted to learn about the world. I learn best by doing and this program is the best opportunity to do that.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Anna: Don't let money immediately turn you off of a program, there are many financial aid opportunities everywhere.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Anna: All of the things I learned on this program I felt I could only learn by actually having the experience abroad. I could of been told about many different things but the only way to understand them for myself was to experience them where I was at the time.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Anna: I learned that my values and beliefs were formed based on the circumstances of my upbringing and therefore they are not applicable to everyone. I learned to respect perspectives that I did not share and to understand the impact my upbringing has on me.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Anna: Because I have traveled a lot with my family, it was a little hard for me to get used to such a different type of travel.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Anna: One day a few of my friends and I decided to explore the mountains above the town we were staying in in Himachal Pradesh, India. We found a man who lived in a temple at the end of our hike who gave us chai and lead us up to a "secret cave" at the top of a river. This was one of a few unplanned adventures that I really enjoyed.

What made this experience unique and special?

Anna: I was in a great mood all day and with great people, I love to hike and tried to find time to whenever we had a free day. The man we met, Baba, was unlike anyone I had ever met and for me it is always the people who make an experience a special one.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Anna: The homestay experiences were the most important to me. Not only could I not have had these experiences at home, I also probably could not have had them traveling on my own or with friends. I made close relationships with people who I would not have met otherwise.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Anna: I would advise anyone to double check what assumptions you are going in with and even though you might not be able to erase those, to try to keep an open mind. That is often something I was told but I still had to actively check myself in day to day conversations. Understand that you are going into other peoples homes and communities and respect their space by listening.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

Anna: This trip helped me decide what university I want to attend and what I want to study. It also taught me to appreciate my family and friends more as well as my alone time. It did change my perceptions on the world in ways that will be different for everyone based on your upbringing and what your beliefs are now. I believe it is important for everyone to find these on our own.