If ONLY I Could Be in High School Again

If ONLY I Could Be in High School Again

Victoria Tadewald

Costa Rica 2014 | Australia 2015 | Peru 2016

Victoria is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Policy at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She’s a CU Boulder graduate with an International Affairs major and Anthropology minor.

All photos have been provided by Victoria. Read her story below!

As a sophomore in high school, I had experienced very little of the world. I lived in a comfortable bubble free from true challenges, and by consequence, free from growth.

Despite my sheltered life, I became more and more curious of the world outside of my bubble, but always felt too afraid to venture out on my own. It was then that I came across Rustic Pathways.

Rustic gave me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone for what felt like the first time in my life, and once I had tasted that freedom, I was hooked!

My first trip was to Costa Rica (somewhere close enough that my parents were comfortable with me traveling alone). The next summer, I traveled to Australia, and the summer after that to Peru. My only wish is that I discovered Rustic sooner!

Not only did Rustic awaken a sense of adventure within me, but it literally changed the course of my life. Prior to my travel, I wanted to go to college close to home and study sports medicine (as I had been an athlete my entire life and that was all I knew).

After Rustic, however, I felt my desires shift. I became more interested in global studies in school, with a keen fascination of other cultures. I also discovered that I was so much more than just an athlete, but I could also be an explorer! I began consistently pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, chasing the high of my first solo international experience with Rustic.

Following my graduation from high school, I made the decision to leave the comforts of home and to attend a university in a faraway state. It was difficult at first to leave home, but I truly felt like my Rustic trips prepared me for the experience.

Driven by my passions for world travel, I majored in International Affairs and Anthropology (the study of the world and its people). Rustic both prepared me for college and also gave me the tools that I needed to continue my international education through studying abroad.

On my semester abroad, I was exceedingly more prepared than my counterparts. I understood how to be respectful of other cultures, was willing to try all of the exotic foods, participated in cultural ceremonies, and got so much more out of the experience simply because I was a comfortable and seasoned traveler.

In addition to teaching me how to be a respectful and capable world traveler, Rustic also taught me the importance of environmental stewardship. On every trip I went on, the leaders instilled a deep sense of environmental consciousness, always encouraging us as travelers to respect the land and its resources.

Driven by those experiences, I am now pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, hoping to enter the field of environmental tourism.

Although it has now been many years since I last traveled with Rustic, I am still guided by the knowledge and wisdom that I accumulated on those trips.

I have now visited every continent and still have an insatiable thirst for travel that was undeniably influenced by my high school travel experiences. Rustic Pathways changed the course of my life forever. I will always cherish my experiences with the company and recommend them to everyone that I know.

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