What Traveling Around the World in 2016 Taught Me

1 Feb


I think it’s safe to say I travelled quite a lot in 2016.  It all started in May with a trip to Australia, and only finished with November in US.

Funny thing is that not one of them was ever an actual vacation. If you keep up with BrainGain magazine, you may remember that Meha and I had won a trip to Australia for an entry on Marine sciences in an all-India video making competition.

The trip was incredible! Advance to Australia really knows how to make you feel like winners; the apartments we stayed in had the most awe-inspiring views of the coast, we were treated to delicious Australian food, and our agenda was intensely packed but so exciting! From visiting the Townsville and Cairns campuses of James Cook University, to visiting the SAE Institute, from meeting professors and students, to snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Every moment was a dream come true! It was like seeing our textbooks come to life.

And it was only the beginning of an incredible year to come.

After getting back from the southern hemisphere, my next stop was a month-long boot camp in Bangalore. Not the army training type but just as intense. This was organized to prep Team India for the World Schools Debating Championships 2016, to be held in Germany. Along with four boys, I was selected after a long process, to represent our country in a week of vigorous debating. To say it was tiring is a gross understatement.

And yet every second of the championship was worth it. To be surrounded by as many intellectual people, engage, and voice your opinions felt surreal. It really felt like we could make a change to this world. I can tell that the people I met there will go places; one of my friends from the Championship just got into Yale, and another into UPenn. And that’s just the beginning!

Without even being able to unpack my bags after returning from Germany, I was off to Bangkok to take part in the World Scholar’s Cup. For the tournament, scholars from all over the world who had qualified in regional rounds, met to take part in debating, writing and quizzing in a decathlon style event. The atmosphere was electric throughout the tournament.

My opponents become some of my closest friends. And I learnt about the world around me because I had fun doing it. I think my team mates, Shoaib and Riddhi, will agree with me when I say that this was one of the most joyous experiences we’ve ever had.

The final trip of the year was to New Haven in the US for the third part of the World Scholar’s Cup. Following regional and global events, those who qualify got to attend the Tournament of Champions at Yale University. This leg of the tournament had the same electric atmosphere, but it was so much more magical. We debated in Yale classrooms, visited Harvard and MIT, and were awarded our medals and trophies in the same hall that Yale graduates receive their degrees. It really was breath taking! The impossible Ivy League dream seemed that much closer to reality.

So, evidently, in 2016 I missed a lot of school. And, it was a lot of work, but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I traveled the world, learnt tremendously, and saw a glimpse of what the future could be.

2016 taught me to keep moving on to the next destination. Now, I look forward to seeing what 2017 will bring!!

By Nudhara Yusuf



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