Melissa Martinez: First to Go

As a first to go student who lived a sheltered life, traveling, especially internationally, had always been a dream of mine. I finally got a chance to live that dream with the First to Go: Dominican Republic trip in the summer of 2015.

‌‌I decided to go to the First to Go: Dominican Republic trip because I knew it would be with people I had something in common with, it was short enough that I didn’t think I’d get homesick, and I really liked the fact it was homestay because it meant I would really be able to immerse into the Dominican Republic culture.

The program itself was composed of really great activities and adventures that were really fun as well as educational. Learning about the Haitians being deported from the Dominican Republic back to Haiti reminded me of the Latino immigrants being deported back in the U.S. and made me realize just how clueless I was about the world outside the U.S. This trip definitely made my world a lot bigger.

The independence I felt as a first generation college student in a foreign country was very liberating and exciting. I remember walking past the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration and just appreciating the entire experience of being away from home to learn about a culture so similar and different from my own. It was more than just learning from a book, it was an experience.