Life changing experiences don't always occur when something drastic happens, like many people think. Sometimes it's a few hours on a plane, a new culture, and a diverse group of people. In my case, it was all of these things that changed my way thinking, something that doesn't always come to easy for a stubborn minded person. I felt like I grew up.
When I signed up to go on a trip to Puerto Rico, all I could think about was all the different things I'd be doing: scuba diving, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking. For people who don't know me, I love sports and activities, but at that time I wasn't exactly a mountain loving type of person. I got over that pretty quick though, I had no other choice. .
Our leader was a former Colonel for the Army. It was intimidating at first but we all learned quickly he was a really energetic, gung-ho wilderness man; despite his old age. The Colonel, as we called him, arrived at my house on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with a van full of 19 people I had never met before. This is when my stomach started to knot up and I got really nervous. At first glance, only one or two of these people looked like people I would usually hang out with. The stereotypes familiar to a high-schooler were what came into mind when I introduced my self to each person. However, this was, as I look back, one of the things that really made me into the person I am today. A person who can meet people and not immediately think "dork". In fact, some of these at-first-glance "dorks" became my best friends on the trip. .
So the first day was of course as awkward as it could have been, but that ended once the counselors made us dance, alone, in front of everyone. This was everyone's worst nightmare. You want to make a good impression and have people like you, and you have to dance before you even say five words to them? Everyone was pretty embarrassed, but after everyone went, we had a lot of things to laugh about, which really broke the ice.