Inspiration & Encouragement, Series, Travel

Dreamer of the Month: August

I am so excited to introduce this month’s featured dreamer as my sweet friend who I have known since junior high (…that’s going on eleven or twelve years, folks)!  For as long as I have known Bergan, we have had similar interests in traveling and a love of words and reading, but it has been more in recent years that I have discovered how truly alike we are in other areas of life, as well.

Sometimes, decisions aren’t always black and white… in fact, sometimes there are so many colors blending together, it’s hard to see clearly at all. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to see which path is the right one for us personally, and you know what? That’s okay! I chose Bergan as Dreamer of the Month for August because I thought she would be a beautiful and refreshing example of what it means to choose to live life with purpose right now, even when we don’t know exactly what we’re doing in the future. Sometimes our short term dreams and goals are the very things that lead us to discovering our other passions in life, so I think it’s important not to get too caught up in building a perfect future that we forget to embrace our todays.

I’ve seen Bergan’s bravery in taking on whatever season of life she’s currently experiencing in the past, and she is about to showcase that same courage once again as she embarks on her next adventure of teaching English to children in Spain for almost a year. I can’t wait to see all that she accomplishes, and I hope you enjoy this month’s interview!

Bergan.Lux
Bergan in Luxembourg for her former study abroad program.

 

Name: Bergan Koch

Profile: Teaching English as a Foreign Language through CIEE

Location: From small town, Ohio, USA to Madrid, Spain

Favorite Quote: I don’t have a favorite per se, but one that describes me the best is: “Oh my darling, it’s true. Beautiful things have dents and scratches too.” ~Unknown

 

Bergan.France2
From Bergan’s travels: Nice, France

 

Interview:

I would love to give our readers some background on how this trip was inspired in the beginning, would you mind telling a little bit about that?

Well, technically this trip was supposed to happen last year, but conflicts with finishing college delayed it. Anyway, in all honesty, it was my severe depression that led me to this decision. I was in the middle of my last semester of college, trying to decide what I would do after graduation, holding a degree in something that I had lost passion in long before.

I had spent most of my college years struggling with depression and anxiety. My mind was still in the process of healing, but I kept obsessing with having a successful future, a strong desire to do something creative, and being able to do something that allowed me to use my degree. I couldn’t find anything the least bit interesting in the States, so I thought of my time abroad and how happy and in control I was of my life overseas, and branched out to international jobs. I discovered a blog post about a woman who was successfully running her own business and she spoke about teaching abroad through CIEE. So, I looked up the program and applied soon after.

Bergan.Italy
From Bergan’s travels: Venice, Italy

 

 

Since you have studied abroad in the past, would you say those experiences have helped prepare you for this next adventure?

Absolutely! My study abroad experience took place in the tiny, yet beautiful, European country of Luxembourg. While there, I learned that I could adapt to new surroundings and situations both quickly and easily, that I truly am an independent girl–meaning, I was self-sufficient, but still vulnerable enough to ask for help from others when I needed it, and how willing I was to experience new things that put me far out of my normal, like: the food (having fresh bread for almost every breakfast, Octopus salad for lunch or Bouillabaisse– a Provençal fish stew for dinner), activities (jamming out at my first EDM music festival or sitting in the same symphony hall with the Grand Duke), and so on! Also, that semester was my only semester in college that I didn’t have issues with my depression or anxiety. Therefore, I realized that my struggles didn’t define me as a person, and life is a beautiful experience to never give up on.

As for Spain, I can only hope that these attributes of myself will continue to develop, even though the experiences will be completely different and new for me–and I am so excited for them!

 

You have stated before that you wanted to “embolden” your students while in Spain; could you elaborate on what that means to you?

Embolden means to give someone the courage or confidence to behave in a certain way (Google). I felt this word described what I hope would happen to me while in Spain–that I would be active in growing my own confidence. Yet, this is what I hope for my students as well. I believe that they possess great potential and courage already within and I, as their teacher, want to help them discover their potential and develop it further in their study of the English language and in life outside my classroom.

Bergan.Embolden

 

You and I have discussed how hard it is to make decisions about careers many times. Although we may not know what we’ll be doing for the rest of our lives, it’s important to make the most of right now, so I think it’s awesome that you’ve decided to follow through with this commitment and invest in these kids!

What is the main thing you’re hoping to take away from this journey?

I will say, I still obsess about having a plan for my future, specifically wanting to know what my specific career will be (if it is that I have one). As for my time in Spain, I do hope to grow more confident in myself, but most importantly I hope to see confidence in the students I will be teaching. In all honesty though, I have no idea what I will come away with after this journey and to me that is the most beautiful thing that I’m looking forward to discovering.

 

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for our readers that may still be figuring out what direction they want to go in, as well?

First, not knowing is okay. Everyone’s path is different in how and when the given path is unfolded and embraced, and not all paths are straight. I, for one, am still on a winding path with no clear end in sight, but I refuse to sit and wait, so I keep moving ahead. My advice to others with an uncertain path is to think about areas in which you have passion for or are interested in exploring and choose one. Then, do things that would take you further on that path. Not only will you learn new things about that area of interest that you can choose to further explore, but more importantly you will learn more about yourself. From there you can either continue on or say no and choose another path.

Lastly, I would encourage you to never, ever give up on yourself or your dream–despite any mistakes or failures that occur along the way. Believe! You are stronger than you think and struggles can only add to the beauty that awaits you!

Bergan.Amsterdam
From Bergan’s travels: Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

 

If you’d like to stay plugged in with Bergan and her work abroad, head on over to her blog, In Wild Grace, and give her a follow! And a big, fat THANKS to my Bergie for not only allowing me to showcase her, and her lovely photos, this month, but also for being so real and honest – we need people like that in our lives.

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