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.
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.