I recently made a big decision: instead of spending my spring semester in Peru on Goshen College’s Study-Service Term like I had intended, I’m going to stay on campus.

"Follow what’s best for you — not what’s best for other people."

— Abby King

And I won’t be going to Peru in the fall of 2019, or even the following spring.

In fact, I won’t be going on SST at all.

I wish I had a good reason for opting out of “the chance of a lifetime,” but I don’t. I simply just don’t want to go; I’ve never wanted to go.

When I was a prospective student, I recall glazing over when the admissions counselors brought up SST. The idea of a cross-cultural experience, while it sounded like a good opportunity, didn’t seem like something I wanted to do. I assumed I would just opt out and, like at most other colleges, doing so wouldn’t impact me at all.

But at Goshen, it’s different. If you don’t spend three months in Indonesia, Peru, Senegal, China or Tanzania, you have to take SST-Alt courses. And as a first-year, these SST-Alt courses were described to me as a “waste of time” by someone. Because I’m a student who tries to constantly challenge herself, I concluded the only possible solution was to go to Peru.

Additionally, I felt forced into going to Peru. I didn’t have a good reason to not go. “True” Goshen College students go on SST — how else are you expected to become a global citizen if you don’t travel to Peru and serve in Arequipa? With hundreds (maybe thousands?) of students and alumni who have participated in SST — including a few influential people in my life — it seems as if it’s a must.

When you’re a student at GC, you’re expected to go by your peers, by your professors, and by the institution. So I signed up to go to Peru this spring, even though I had no desire to go.

I assumed that as the term neared, my excitement would increase.

It didn’t. Instead, dread filled my thoughts and I couldn’t sleep.

And so, I decided to break away from what I thought was expected from me, and not go to Peru in the spring. Or ever.

It was a decision I had thought about a lot — opting out. And so when I went to the registrar and officially withdrew from the spring SST unit, a feeling of relief flooded my body.

I decided I wouldn’t let others make decisions for me, or let expectations force me into something I didn’t want to do.

And it was quite possibly the best thing I could have done for myself.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go on SST if you want. It’s a encouragement to follow what’s best for you — not what’s best for other people.