FlipKey Study Abroad Scholarship Winner Announcement

At FlipKey, we value the importance of travel and cultural immersion as a way to learn about the world firsthand. To encourage this, we are awarding one student a $1,000 scholarship to put towards studying abroad. From tuition costs to plane tickets and spontaneous excursions in between, the scholarship money can be used to cover any of the expenses associated with studying and traveling abroad.

Hundreds of students submitted 1000 word essays describing why travel is important to him or her, and it was a difficult decision for our judges to make.

Congratulations to Morgan Gallogly of John Carroll University in Ohio who won the FlipKey Study Abroad Scholarship and $1000 towards her semester abroad next spring in London!

For those who missed out this year, please submit an essay in the coming year as we’ll be giving away another scholarship in 2017!

The winning essay is printed in full below:

The Importance of Travel

            During an astronomy class my senior year of high school we were taught how constellations and asterisms were discovered and named. We learned how mythological stories attempted to explain human existence to the ancient Greeks who spent their nights curiously looking above and seeing the omnipotent eyes of Zeus looking down on them. It was in this class that I realized just how big the universe was. I understood for the first time that the earth was such a tiny piece of the cosmic jigsaw puzzle that was outer space. I felt small. I felt my problems and worries shrink to microscopic size. If the planet we live on, which itself seems so enormous, was just an infinitesimal part of a system that was much bigger, then why be anxious in the first place? Why worry? In the end, we are all a part of a tiny inner working of a planet that is floating through the paths of not only other planets, but other solar systems. What a beautiful concept, I remember thinking. As I leaned back in my plastic chair in the middle of a room full of other scared-to-grow-up seniors, I looked at the stars not only as celestial balls of heat, but as a reminder that there is more.

            Only a couple of month after my experience in that class, I decided to get a tattoo. The thin, black string of delicate stars that now sits behind my left ear serves as a constant reminder that I am a small part of a bigger picture. My doubts and worries, in the grand scheme of things, do not matter. This concept has helped me through the stress that I place on myself. As someone who has battled anxiety and other forms of mental illness, this simple thought brings me so much peace. My friendly galactic tattoo is there to help me through those times of overanalyzing and self-doubt. I am reminded of my place in this universe. I am reminded to not allow a bout of anxiety keep me from discovering and exploring. Ultimately, I am reminded of my love for travel.

            Travel has always been a passion of mine. I always appreciated how much I could see myself and those around me grow from having an experience one could only have outside of their personal comfort zone. Traveling is one of the only things that has this effect. It is one of the few times I can quell that tiny voice in my head telling me to remain safe and complacent in my own comfort zone. Being able to take that risk to explore reminds me of my astronomy class, which, in turn, reminds me of the true scale of my surroundings. We are only given a short time on a very small part of the universe. It is my true passion to investigate all that I can within my time on earth. When I go someplace new, even if it is just a new spot on my college campus, I try my best to appreciate every aspect of it. Trying and doing something different is not something that I take for granted anymore. Exploration has a great power to change us and travel is a rare and humbling experience in which you are reminded of your humanity. You are reminded that you are a small, but important, part of a large world.

          There are a countless amount of ways that I could pretentiously and abstractly try to conceptualize the power of travel (some of which I am sure I have already utilized here). However, I can definitively say that there is a reason people love to explore. There is a reason why some love to try new foods, meet new people, and see new things. There is a reason that schools encourage students to spend a semester abroad and there is a reason why scholarships are available to help fund those semesters. Though these reasons may differ from person to person, I know that my reason lies within my passion for the world and the inner peace I find when I let myself stray from the ordinary and mundane. Through travel, we can see how different we all are and yet still see the similarities that weave us together as the collective inhabitants of a single planet. It changes us. It makes us grow in intelligence, perspective, and love. It makes us better equipped to understand the world in which we live. It gives us the tools we need to become better humans.

          The stars have been burning in the sky a lot longer than we have been looking up at them. Each pocket of earth and space will go on existing, whether we choose to explore it or not. It is nearly impossible to experience and understand each part of our tiny planet. Imagining that we can see it all in one lifetime is a little farfetched. However, if we keep reinforcing travel’s importance into our cultures, we can slowly transform it into more than just something you may daydream about in astronomy class.  Through my experiences around the world, both past and future, I hope that I will be able to say I made my cliché daydream of traveling the world a reality. Traveling has taught me that our soulmates in life can sometimes be cities, not people.  It has shown me how to broaden my perspective, and it has challenged my thinking. It is difficult to articulate my obsession with traveling. It is hard to describe how much it has helped me.  But it is easy to think about your own future and how you want to define your own success. That success, for me, does not include buying a large house, purchasing a fancy car, or owning all of the latest gadgets and technology. I do not dream of the value of things. I dream of the value of experiences. I dream of the world.