Post 2: Do What You Love Part 2

After getting to know the international athletes on my hall at Lee University I ached to travel. I wanted to get out into the world and experience different ways of life and incredible destinations. The South had become old to me and I felt that it was about time to step outside of it. Fortunately enough, my parents took me on one last vacation with just the three of us the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. We traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, and Acadia National Park in Maine. Acadia National Park was absolutely stunning, but our two days in Boston had the biggest impact on me. The city was so incredibly different than anywhere that I had ever been. The thing that stuck out to me most however was the convergence of cultures. People from all over the world were touring Boston that summer. Every couple of steps I heard a different language being spoken. I so badly wanted to interact with each person and hear their story, but my parents had an agenda planned out, so we had to push on. Also, I remember gaping at so many beautiful international girls. That probably drove my mother crazy because I pointed them out quite often. All in all, the trip inspired me to travel even more. I mean, if my laptop screensaver is still a picture of Boston two years later it must have been an amazing experience, right?

Below: My Boston laptop screensaver

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I started my sophomore year of college at my current school: The College of Coastal Georgia. The week before classes started I attended the international orientation; I figured that since the internationals at Lee University were so cool that the international students at Coastal would be too. That turned out to be a wonderful decision. At this orientation I met who would become my two best friends at the college that year: Louis and Karina. Louis was attending Coastal from Haiti while Karina was from Brazil and attending the college as an exchange student. After the orientation we were sent to our dorms to officially move in. I had connected with Louis so quickly that when I found out that one of my roommates to be had transferred I messaged him immediately. He felt the same way about me too because he happily accepted the invitation to become roommates. I was exposed to many cultural differences through my friendships with Louis and Karina. They taught me about their home languages, foods from their countries, how to properly dance, how relationships worked in their cultures, about varied music, and so much more. The more that they taught me about their home cultures the more I wanted to check them out for myself. The three of us were inseparable and emitted an abundance of confidence wherever we went. We certainly stuck out on campus amidst the hordes of Southerners. Who would have thought that an American, a Brazilian, and a Haitian would become such close friends? These amazing friends helped me to discover so much about myself and I am incredibly thankful to have met them. They also inspired me even more to get out into the world and explore. After becoming so close with them my sophomore year of college I found that I not only desired to travel, but I also desired to become an international student myself.

Below: Karina, Louis and I has we head off to be tourists for the day.

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Upon discovering that I wanted the experience of studying as an international student, I figured that I should start by traveling domestically. I found that I shouldn’t just travel to another place in my country, but that I should also work and live there for a little while on my own as well. I felt like it was necessary to learn how to live on my own for a few months to see if I could really handle change. So, I got a job as a camp counselor at Mountain Camp the summer between my sophomore and junior year. Mountain Camp is a traditional co-ed camp for kids nestled in the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California. The camp is a truly unique place where kids have the freedom grow, make new friends, and pursue new interests in a safe and beautiful setting. I had a wonderful experience working at the camp, but it was also very trying for me for a few reasons: I was living on the other side of the country without my family and friends, I had to quickly learn how to look after myself in a foreign environment, and the job itself was surprisingly straining. By the end of the summer though I was extremely satisfied with the experience. Through the camp counselor experience I learned a lot about myself, I made a positive impact on the kids and was positively impacted by them, saved up some decent money, and made friends with counselors from all over the world. I also got a lot of great advice from fellow counselors about how to travel properly, living in another culture, and preparing for the study abroad process. My experience at Mountain Camp gave me a fantastic foundation to pull from in preparation for future travel.

Below: Me with my co counselor and best friend Stephen at Mountain Camp

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This last year of college, my junior year, has been about setting myself up for a student exchange experience. I’ve taken the advice from all the international friends that I have made and the International Education Department at the College of Coastal Georgia and capitalized on it. I worked a good bit this last year and saved up proper funds to help cover the student exchange experience and the extra fees associated with it. Through the process of setting myself up to go abroad I’ve had to find out the best location for me to study in, the right organization to work with, how to get a passport, how to apply for a student visa, and how to find the best plane tickets to purchase. After having finished my junior year strong I am very close to manifesting my dreams into a reality. I’ve been accepted into a student exchange program for a semester in the Czech Republic, I have jobs in New York City and California set up for this summer to aid with preparations, and I have amazing people in my life to draw help from when I need. I’ve discovered that I love to travel and that I long to become an international student. It is happening. I’m Doing What I Love and I’m damn proud of it.

Embrace the freedom of Doing What You Love to do! Each of us have passions that we desire to pursue and it’s our responsibility to go after them wholeheartedly. Once you put your heart into doing what you love anything is possible, and by choosing to ACT NOW on your passions you are giving yourself the best chance to attain your exactly what you desire. So, get out of your comfort zone. Comfort is so deceiving because it tricks us into thinking that we are satisfied where we are at in life. It attempts to assure us that doing what we like is satisfying enough, but mere satisfaction with our lives gets old. Comfort really just holds us back from attaining true joy. It instills into us the fear that if we try to go for more we will ultimately regret it. That is completely false. If we remain only comfortable and satisfied, we will be selling ourselves short. It is worth the sacrifice to leave comfort behind and go for what you love. The dream of doing what you love can become a reality, you just need to take a leap of faith and put the work in!

 

 

 

Post 2: Do What You Love Series Part One

My first year of college I attended Lee University; it is a private Christian University consisting of about 5,000 students nestled in the mountains in Tennessee. Lee University offers outstanding academics and has one of the most beautiful campuses that I have ever been on. The atmosphere there is absolutely electric, and the people are extremely nice. On a surface level the university seems flawless. However, life at Lee is not as perfect as one is lead to believe, and as with every university it has its flaws. Most of my “Life at Lee” consisted of dating the same girl, taking religion classes, going to chapel, participating in intramural sports, and ultimately staying inside an innocent little bubble. The culture there constituted that we were to only think in a Christian worldview. The endless required chapel sessions, religion classes, and recommended Monday night small group gatherings did not give one the opportunity to break through the bubble that encompassed the campus. Now things were nice and peachy if you were a dedicated Christian, but what about the people that attended the school who were not religious? They were, and probably still are, treated as outcasts. This happened to be the case for a lot of the international student athletes that I met. The fact that they were not “believers” caused others to avoid them in many regards, but it also caused them to form tight knit groups. They were only at Lee because they had been offered athletic scholarships to compete for the university. Apparently though, the coaches had not taken the time to explain how different the school was compared to most other American colleges when recruiting their athletes. The student athletes, especially the ones from abroad, envisioned their college experience to be full of parties and new experiences. However, when they arrived on campus they were met by a whole new reality: the college that they were recruited to is hardcore Christian. The combination of studying in a foreign place and being surrounded by religion can cause some hard-hitting culture shock. This being said, most of the international student athletes on campus tended to stick together and be rowdy. They would openly state how they thought Christianity was stupid and this offended a lot of people at the university. I don’t blame them though because if I was in there shoes I would have acted out as well. The international athletes were surprisingly cool guys though if you got passed the whole “they’re not religious” thing. They had a lot to offer, one just had to be willing to hear them out.

Below: A snowy day at Lee University with the flame still burning strong.

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I was a strong Christian for most of my time spent at Lee University, and with my Christian views at the helm I put up relational barriers towards the international athletes that I met. They came across as a threat to my faith because they openly disagreed with the foundations that I was raised on. It scared me to hear their points of view for some reason. Maybe I was afraid that I would actually agree with their viewpoints, or maybe I was just afraid of being judged by other Christian students at the University for associating with them. What I do know is that I am grateful for getting to know some of them in the end.

At the conclusion of my freshman year at Lee University I connected with the international students on my hall. They were all student athletes who came from many different backgrounds. Their stories were the complete opposite of mine: they hailed from all over the world, they were all collegiate athletes, and none of them were remotely religious. Each difference that they exemplified was something that I wanted to explore. I desired to travel outside of the South and see the great big world, I was currently working my ass off to become a collegiate tennis player, and I was starting to fall off the whole religion train that I had been on my entire life. I got to know them my last few weeks at Lee University because I finally decided to let my barriers down. It was one of the best decisions that I could have made.

Below: Me with Eirik (A former tennis player at Lee from Norway on my hall) after he accidentally hit me in the nose with the cue ball.

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My last few weeks at Lee University were extremely eye-opening as I began to spend quality time with the international athletes on my hall. Hanging out with the international athletes from my hall allowed me to see the University from the other side and I got a glimpse of the underlying counterculture that existed at the school. This culture consisted of parties, speaking one’s mind, having fun, and ultimately being free to explore new possibilities. So, I began to try new things; I started to view the school from a “worldly view” rather than a Christian one, listened to new outlooks on life, met new people, talked to new girls, and even attended a party or two. It was exhilarating to explore this new way of life towards the end of my freshman year. The international athletes on my hall gave me new perspectives on how to view the world, taught me about their cultures, introduced me to their native languages, exposed me to incredible music, and most importantly sparked in me the desire to travel. I had been introduced to many different cultures and I was thirsty to know more about everything else that awaited me in the great big world. I desired to travel and see amazing places with my own two eyes. It turned out that traveling would become a present-day example of me Doing What I Love.

Be on the lookout for part two coming soon!

Sincerely,

Captain Kosz