What is the most important thing you learned abroad?
Justin: There are too many lessons I’ve learned from my time abroad. One quote the sums up most of what I learned is, "The only things you'll regret in life are the risks you didn't take." As much as this trip is truly a life changing journey, if you don’t do at least one thing that scares you, you’re missing out. Just do it, what do you really have to loose.
What made this experience unique and special?
Justin: One hundred percent my favorite part of the trip, and the most unique part, were the people I met and became such close friends with.
The one thing that makes every ISV trip unique and special is the people you meet because even if you do the same trip twice, you'll never have the same individuals for both the two weeks on project and two weeks on the adventure tour.
Now to play devil’s advocate, not everyone is going to love and jell so easily with their group; I guess I was very lucky in that regard. But even if you hate everyone on the trip (which I would be surprised you can't find one person you like) you're still be travelling around Australia for a month, going on crazy adventures. Doesn't seem that bad to me.
Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.
Justin: Every day was a new experience. At home you start to get stuck in a pattern; how you live your life starts to play on a rhythm, so to speak. But when you're on the trip it starts to feel like you’re living another life; for me at least it felt this way. On this excursion you’re somewhat forced not use your phone and converse with your peers.
I started to experience what living your life actual meant and it doesn’t involve being connected to the internet 24/7. At home I would typically be on the computer or always looking at my phone throughout the day. But I was having so much fun with everyone around me that my phone didn’t even cross my mind. The 4 week trip, the experience of itself, can never be replicated back home; it’s just such as unique experience.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Justin: Have the mentality to do everything on this trip. Just like the quote I mentioned before, "The only things you'll regret in life are the risks you didn't take.” Also bring more “going out” clothes then you think you're going to need. On the trip you are going to be handed so many new opportunities and my advice would be, even if they all scare you to death, try to do every single one.
Likewise have the mentality of wanting to meet new people; as funny as it sounds, for the people that don't put themselves out of their comfort zone, they fall short of the full experience that ISV has to offer.
Was the trip worth it?
Justin: YES! It is worth every penny I spent. For my trip I had great weather and I highly recommend trying to get into the May trips, depending on what country you choose to go to with ISV. For Australia my summer, is their winter. But to get back on topic. If you have the money to do this trip, do it; you will not regret it!
International Student Volunteer trips are much more than just volunteer work, they’re truly life changing excursions. I didn’t go on this trip because of the volunteer work, I went on this trip for the life changing adventure and that’s exactly what I found. Everyone’s trip is going to be a little different. But at the end of the week’s nobody has the words to explain how great there trip was. It’s something that you just have to experience, like skydiving.
I loved the trip so much that I truly didn’t want it to end; to the point where I didn’t really want to come home. I recommended this trip to everyone I knew when I came home. Everyday something reminds me of the fun I had in Australia. It was one of the best decisions of my life and I miss it every day.