Categories: Spotlight on our Network
People questioned whether Lime Network member, Amanda Parker, who uses a motorized scooter, would be able to handle the challenges of studying abroad in London. Boy did she prove them wrong! She shares her experience of a lifetime (including the time she had to carry her 160lb scooter down a flight of stairs by herself) ...
For as long as I can remember, many people in my community, university, and family have discussed with me that they had the chance to study abroad for a semester. Whenever I heard about someone who had the chance to leave their comfort-zone and travel to a new country and culture for an extended stay, my heart immediately began to race because I felt an excitement about the possibility that I might be able to do that in my future. Thus, it was always a dream of mine to study abroad during a semester of college.
I have an advantage of attending New York University, because of their amazing study abroad and global programs office. However, as a result of my disability, many people doubted and questioned whether or not it was a smart decision for me to embark on my fantasy journey. I use a motorized scooter in order to walk long distances, and most cities outside of the United States are not as accessible. Despite this, I was determined to meet with the right people and try to make studying abroad in London, England (my city of choice) work for me because, I knew that this "once in a lifetime" opportunity would provide me with the enjoyment of meeting new people, learning about a new culture, and opening new doors for me. After almost a year of planning, meetings, and researching, I finally decided that I was ready to go, attempt to make everything work, and hope for the best. This past August 2013, all my hard work paid off. My dream of spending a semester abroad finally became a reality!
I have just returned from spending the past five months, my Fall semester, living and studying in London, England, and I have had the most incredible time of my life, creating memories that will stay with me forever. I had to navigate through additional challenges that most students going abroad do not need to think about, such as the inaccessibility of the city (including the sidewalks, buildings, and transportation system), not being able to rely on anyone who previously knew me, and having to make many new friends. Little did I know, this would be one of the most incredible and life-changing opportunities and experiences of my life; I made meaningful friendships, got to know, travel, and tour multiple places in England, as well as, around Europe, and showed myself that no matter how many times I got stuck on the London Underground (subway), how many streets are made of cobblestone, how many stairs there are, and how many rainstorms occur, I can get through it.
As you can see, there were definitely times of struggle, but I continued rolling with the punches (quite literally)! One particular example was when I was traveling to a residential neighborhood located outside of Central London. On my way, the train unexpectedly terminated at an earlier station before reaching my desired station. Normally this would not be an issue, but the station that it terminated at was a non-accessible station, and I had my scooter with me. Long story short, I ended up having to nose-dive off of the train over a 9" step...I guess I did not do what the British warn people to do and "Mind the Gap"! After my nose-dive, station workmen told me that it is a liability for them to assist me, so I had to carry my 160+ pound scooter down a flight of steps with only the assistance of an elderly woman. However, the few rough moments abroad were outweighed by numerous happy ones which gave me proof that I could fulfill my dream to study abroad just as I always strived too.
Life is about opportunities! The endless opportunities that present themselves in our world are what keep me going. I believe that the biggest disability a person can have in life is fear. Personally, fear inhibits me from becoming the person that you are meant to be. Even though I was fearful about whether my semester in London would be a success, I did not allow that fear hold me back from trying. Because of this, I can now say that I have accomplished and successfully completed the most incredible semester of my life! I have been determined not to allow my own physical challenges interfere with the achievement of my personal goals.
Reach for your dreams, do not let fear constrain you, and allow the opportunities that life present carry you to the most exciting and best opportunities and experiences of life!
Amanda Parker, NYU '15, Lime Connect Fellow '13