My name is Natalia Fischl-Lanzoni, and I am 2 days away from embarking on my Global Citizen Year, which I will be spending in Ecuador!

It's crazy to think that in just a few days, I will be leaving my home for 9 months and living in a place I've never been before, with people whom I've never met. When I tell my friends and acquaintances what my plans are for the next year, they are shocked and impressed. When they ask for details and I tell them that I currently have no idea what I'll be doing, where I'll be living, and know absolutely nobody either going with me, or currently living there, they are astounded. "How can you do that??" They ask, and I am at a loss for how to respond. But truthfully what excites me is that challenge to adapt to a very different culture and language. When I happened to stumble across the Global Citizen Year website, I knew this was what I had been looking for. 
Living abroad has been more than a dream of mine, it's been a priority. I've always thought that when we step outside our comfort zone, and live in a new setting, we are able to not only better understand the world we live in and the people around us, but we also grow to know ourselves better. I have lived in the same place my entire life, spoken one language, and although I am beyond grateful for every privilege I've been blessed with in my life, I can't help wanting another experience, a different story to share. Global Citizen Year was the perfect program for me because it advocates and allows for immersion in a foreign culture, while providing a support team and language instruction for the difficulties along the way. 
It may sound cliched to say that I want to come back a changed person from my year abroad, but I do want to return more mature, with a better knowledge of the world around me and my place in it. I cannot wait to see what the future holds and to share my stories with you.