When June comes around, however, I am released from the constraints of school and sports

SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Samantha Monello For the last 16 years, I've spent my summers on the East Coast in a small, simplistic beach town completely separated from my life at home. During the 10 or so months that surround summer, I am fed with the necessary content included in the public school curriculum. When June comes around, however, I am released from the constraints of school and sports. I am free to engage in an entirely different world, a different place and with different people. Every summer I set out on the liberating journey of interacting with the world without the hindrance of the responsibilities and protocols of regular life.

It's my mother, a displaced Bostonian, who has created the ritual of leaving Oregon for my family and I. Returning to her home state and visiting her childhood friends is a demand that we meet every year during the months of June and July.

Over the years, these summers have become less a vacation and more a second life. There's something to be said about complete separation from one's primary social circles and the patterns of the familiar to inspire discoveries and new perspectives. While typical summer days have been spent as a barista, nanny or volunteer at the community theater, evenings with friends and adults who come together for the summer have exposed me to a myriad of new ideas and interests.

I have been raised to value different experiences, be an explorer and to maximize the value of every opportunity.

In every situation, my primary goals are to learn as much as I can about the world and myself. I believe that my summers on the opposite coast have been conducive in expanding this knowledge. They have provided me with exposure to a range of new perspectives, lifelong relationships and a broader understanding of the plethora of opportunities this world has to offer.

Every year I'm sad to leave my close friends behind for two months but as I've grown older, I have begun to recognize the value in my time away from them.

I have met new people and tried new things, all of which have contributed to my continually developing view of the world. I am thankful that my mother forces us to leave our normal lives behind each June and try something different. The disconnect has given me the ability to navigate between two inherently different social environments and appreciate the variety in our world.

I believe that everyone should take some time away from the schedules of regular life to try something new and be somewhere else. This separation doesn't need to be as exaggerated as my two months in Massachusetts. Any time away from the familiar will be beneficial if you engage in the world around you and appreciate the different things it has to offer.

Samantha Monello is a senior at Wilsonville High School.

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