Lady Bison Abroad: The significance of traveling

I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question.

 ― Harun Yahya

Teyonna Ridgeway is a Howard University student and Queen to Queen, Inc. member who is studying aborad in London.

Teyonna Ridgeway (far right) is a Howard University student and Queen to Queen, Inc. member who is studying aborad in London.

There are only a few life changing experiences that I have encountered in my short 20 years of living – and studying abroad is one of them. My decision to study abroad during the spring semester of my junior year at Howard University was the best choice that I have made thus far. I am currently studying at Richmond, the American International University in London, England, having the time of my life. This has been such a growing experience – from a professional, cultural and personal standpoint. I was scared at the thought of being in a foreign country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, knowing no one whatsoever. It felt like I was starting freshman year all over again. But those were excited nerves and I am proud of the mature decision that I made.

Teyonna AbroadThe love that I have for London is larger than the distance between the United Kingdom and America. This is an extraordinary city with so much to offer. It amazes me that a city could be so diverse – with people literally from all over the world – yet be so rich in its own culture. London has just enough characteristics similar to America to make you feel at home but there are also so many things that make you realize that you aren’t in the States anymore. And that’s what I love most. I have never felt out of my element here. I have never had a moment where I just wanted to go home. I admit that I miss my family and friends, but I have enjoyed every bit of my experience thus far and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

There is a world much larger than the suburbs of Atlanta or the busy streets of D.C. that I have yet to experience. There are people of different cultures, ethnicities and religions that I have yet to speak to. And, there is a person – who has been a part of me for the last 20 years – who I am just now having the pleasure of meeting.

There are a total of three Black students (including me) who are a part of my study abroad program – and all of them attend Howard. Three out of over 60 students who are in the program. It is an obvious fact that we don’t travel as much as we can. Often times we are not exposed to the opportunities that other races are taking full advantage of. Other times, we are afraid of being uncomfortable or we make up excuses to prevent us from experiencing something that we deserve. While I can’t impact the entire world, I plan to be an ambassador for studying abroad, and traveling in general, because it is something that you have to experience firsthand to understand the significance of it.

Current and future queens, I encourage you to travel the globe. Realize that there is so much more than what you are familiar with. The ability to step outside your comfort zone and grow from your life changing experiences shows your true character. Understand that like the birds who fly South every the winter, you can spread your wings and fly. There is nothing that can stop you if you don’t allow it to.