Making Your Own Decisions
My path to studying abroad was an interesting one to say the very least. My older brother years prior had studied in Sorrento, Italy. Since then I wanted to see different parts of the world and learn important lessons along the way. I wanted to throw myself in a radically different environment. I wanted to train myself to become adaptive and aware of how different things could be. In other words, I wanted a global mindset, and RIT was my opportunity to start that journey.
While starting the semester as a 2nd year BME, one of my professors told me about the program to Guatemala through EWH (Engineering World Health), where students visit a hospital and repair medical devices and equipment. I was intrigued the moment I heard about it. After class, I asked her more about the program, and she essentially told me she wasn’t sure if my parents would want me to do it at such a young age, and to wait a couple of years. She was right, my mom especially was terrified by the idea of me going to Guatemala. For a while I accepted it, but it dawned on me that it didn’t matter what my parents thought. Obviously, I will listen to their suggestions, but that’s what their words are now - suggestions. I am an adult now. I dictate my destiny whether or not my parents approve. This was my chance to make a calculated risk on my own. So I took it, and boy was it worth it.
Was I put in tough situations? Yeah. Did I make some massive mistakes? Of course. But I learned so much on my month-long journey. I can tell you stories no one else can tell, I met wonderful people I would have never known even existed, and I know it’ll sound cliché, but it taught me a lot about who I am and what I want to do with my life. That journey made me realize my purpose, something that I’ve always hidden inside, but I didn’t truly let open until my New Year’s Eve in Xela.
My MEGA EXPERIENCIA in Guatemala will stay close to my heart until I’m long gone from this earth. It has not only given me great memories but a path for the future. If you are worried about the risks involved with studying abroad, write down those risks and just look at them at face value. How likely are they to actually occur, and what would be the consequences? Then, write down all of the positives that can come from the experience, and see which one bears more weight. Sometimes, something is just worth that risk. And it’s you who has to decide that. Not your siblings, your parents, your friends, not anyone but yourself. Because ultimately, you are the one who cares the most about your destiny. So hold the steering wheel and control the gas, don’t let anyone else drive your life. It’s too short to be a passenger, so go for one hell of a drive.
Eric Ansteth is a Biomedical Engineering major in Kate Gleason College of Engineering and studied in Antigua, Guatemala on the Engineering World Health program over winter break 2019-20.