For the first two months of high school, I was wondering when I would learn about the opportunities my school provided for students interested in traveling abroad. My question was answered today.
While in Spanish class, there came a knock on the door. My spanish teacher immediately stopped us from our work, spoke to us in a lot of Spanish we didn’t know and introduced “someone you should listen closely to.” It turned out she was a representative of a study abroad program, SYA. She was friendly, kind and seemingly very enthusiastic in her attempt to convince us that this was the program we wanted to travel through.
As always, little brochures and links to websites and pages followed, followed by time for questions. I have to say, her enthusiasm worked. I had always been interested in traveling abroad and I suddenly became very excited. My mind immediately drifted to my #1 priority for all travel: birding and I soon became immersed in thought over the birding opportunities that might await me.
She promised she would stay until lunch and after eating, I stopped by her little table with all the catalogs and brochures neatly arranged to ask a dire question. Most people where still in lunch (thankfully) and quite a few seconds of making sure the coast was clear, in a very toned-down voice, I asked the woman if there would be any opportunities for viewing birds and wildlife while in the country. After a few awkward seconds where she seemed quite puzzled and where I thought “darn! why did I ever ask a stupid thing like that,” she replied: “ohhh you have an interest in birds” in about the loudest voice possible. I quietly replied “yes” and a smile came to her face. “There would totally be opportunities, in fact, it’s encouraged.” ENCOURAGED, I thought. ENCOURAGED!!! As if it couldn’t get any better she ended with, “there is a terrific train and bus system in Spain and many people take off on their own trips for the weekend and for vacations.”
I doubt that unassuming young woman knew the insanity of the seemingly normal freshman. A maniac, some have said. And that will not chance just because of geographic location.
When I returned home this afternoon, before starting homework, I scanned through my European field guide drooling over all the possibilities. Sandgrouse plus European shorebirds, gulls, waterfowl, and all those Mediterranean specialties. If I thought I was merely interested in study abroad programs before, I was now dedicated and primed to raise my binoculars on a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse or Black Wheatear.
(Note: I still am excited for many other elements of study abroad programs including improving my ability to speak the language and immersing myself in the culture as well as meeting new friends and enjoying the cuisine, but one big item, one secret item is circling near the top of that list, like an Egyptian Vulture)