Alysia Kezerian is a recent college graduate, a resident of Danville, California and a world traveler, who says she's visited nearly a dozen countries in Europe.
She also happens to be in a wheelchair. Kezerian had been hiking at Smith Rock State park in Oregon when she lost her grip and fell. "She continued to tumble an additional 20-30 feet down the steep terrain," according to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, where Kezerian would later receive physical therapy.
The accident made Kezerian question whether she'd be able to pursue her love of traveling in the future. "I have always loved travel and have gone on many adventures with my family across the US and to Europe," Kezerian told ABC in an email. "I was terrified that I would never be able to travel again because of my disability."
But when Kezerian proceeded through rehabilitation at Craig Hospital, she learned that traveling wouldn't be impossible. "The more I learned from my PT and OT as well as other people in wheelchairs that I looked up to, I realized that travel was still a very possible thing for me to do," Kezerian said. "So when I returned to school in winter 2016, I decided to apply to study International Marketing in Vienna for Summer term 2016, and that's what started it all."
Kezerian has visited several countries in Europe including France, Switzerland, Italy and The Netherlands. Because of her wheelchair, she had to consider things like if there would be handicap-accessible restrooms or if there would be elevators or only stairs wherever she was traveling. But Kezerian looked at her situation with optimism.
"There will always be obstacles, but what matters most is how you handle them in the moment," she said. "Do I let the lack of stairs bother me and ruin my day? Or do I put on a smile, turn around, and find a new shop/museum/etc to explore? (I always chose the 2nd)."
The graduate also thanks the supportive staff at her alma mater, the University of Oregon, as well as Karin Obermeyer, her program's site director for making her trip possible.
"That study abroad adventure instilled in me this confidence that I did not have before," Kezerian said. "The confidence that I, in fact, can do this and can make something like travel happen, even on my own if I wanted to."