All about M.E!

Authored by:
MariaElena K.

MariaElena K.

Hi everybody and welcome to my blog! I’m so happy you’re here. My name is MariaElena Kouriabalis. Now I could sit here and tell you all the boring stuff, like how I just graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I could tell you about what I majored in and what I did around campus. I could even tell you about how covid-19 ruined my plans for traveling during my undergrad. But that tale has been told over and over again. So instead I’ll cut to the chase of how I got here…leaving for Madrid in just a few short days! 

Let’s flashback to last summer. After wrapping up my 3rd year entirely online, not seeing much family or friends, having my study abroad program officially canceled I was feeling drained. I knew that senior year in the fall ment decisions had to be made and graduate school applications needed to be started.  I took the summer to recharge and think about what I wanted and what made me happy. I spent that time volunteering at 2 different sleepaway camps. I was surrounded by kids. Young kids filled with life and bursting at the seams with dreams and adventure. 

Those weeks spent at camp got me thinking, we stick to what we know because it’s safe. But what if we change direction? Just for a moment of course, what if we fly on that instinct we’ve been pushing away? Maybe taking the risk is worth it, it can lead you to a whole new world. A world that has been waiting for you. Walking into the fall I knew that I wouldn’t be going to graduate school, I wanted something different and I felt okay for wanting it. 

A year later I’m finally taking that leap. Bags are currently being packed, goodbyes are being said and my list of Madrid must do’s is finalized. In the process of preparing to leave I find myself reflecting on the choices that got me here. It was a culmination of burn out, the unknown and adventure. To say I’m excited is an understatement. It’s Madrid! In Spain! Across the world! There’s so much to do and see and eat. While the excitement is fueling my adrenaline I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t scared. It’s Madrid…in Spain…across the world. Leaving behind everyone and everything I know is daunting. Luckily my friends love adventure and are already looking into visiting. 

To anyone questioning their path, or confused that they want something else, I’m here to tell you that it is O.K!! It is okay to want something else even if it’s different from what you are doing. It’s okay to deviate from the norm! It’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to do something by yourself. Take the risk, follow your gut and just try. You never know where you might end up. 

So here’s to the year ahead! To the adventures, and the pictures and the lessons I’m bound to learn. To experiences I can write home about and all the people I'll meet along the way. I’m excited to bring you all along with me. I’m excited for this chapter. 

The Party’s Just Begun. 


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