The Single Girl’s Checklist #11

OK, I’m finally getting back around to doing these “regular” (haha) posts. The second item to cross off my “Single Girl’s Checklist!”

#11 – Fly to a foreign country by yourself.

Bawling like a baby at security in Newark International...

This one was scary as hell. I had been looking forward to it for four years since the idea first crossed my mind. When I went to visit Elon my junior year of high school, I went to an info session about study abroad and decided then and there that I would be going to Australia for a semester abroad. My parents just laughed, still not really believing that I’d even be leaving the state of Maryland to go to North Carolina for college. After all, I was the kid who didn’t talk to my neighbors and was going to live at home forever. Right? Wrong.

I poured my heart and soul into the application to spend a semester in Oz, and the day I got my acceptance for it was phenomenal, second only to the day I got my acceptance to Elon. I counted down the days, got things in order, and then suddenly, I was nervous. Nervous as hell. My parents and I didn’t talk much the whole day on Feb. 4, 2008, the day that they were taking me to the airport. We sat in silence eating our dinner in the airport, pre-security of course, because none of us knew what to say. Then it was about time to go and we walked to the security gate.

And the floodgates opened

I was fine, although still insanely nervous, until my father’s voice cracked and I saw the tears in his eyes. Then I started bawling. I hugged them one last time, told them I loved them and then didn’t look back once I got in the security line. I knew if I did, I might not keep going. I took deep, shuddering breaths, retrieved my things, and set off on the greatest journey of my life.

I sat down at my gate and thought…“What the hell am I doing? I’m by myself, flying to the other side of the world, to spend five months there, and I know NO ONE.” Luckily, I had connected with one other girl from Elon who was going on the trip and happened to be on my flight. I had stalked her thanks to the glory of Facebook and was able to recognize her when she got to the gate. I had been smart enough to wear my Elon hoodie, so I approached her and while she had looked timid and afraid, just like me, her face lit up when she saw my hoodie.

Alone, but with someone who understood

Krysta and I were each other’s saving graces during that long (and I mean LONG) trip to Australia. We weren’t sitting near each other on the planes, but having someone to spend the layovers with and knowing that there was someone I could talk to was just what I needed. We became fast friends, inseparable for the five months we were Down Under.

Those five months were the best of my life, without a doubt. They changed me in ways I can no longer even explain. I would not be the person I am today without the experiences I had in those five months. While I did have a traveling companion, she was a virtual stranger. The whole experience, the flights all the way through to the end, was a test of my independence and my ability to adapt. And I am so thankful for every bit of it. And miss every aspect of it dearly.

In front of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The most beautiful beaches I've ever seen.

One of the last things I did in Oz...totally worth it.

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