Asking to study abroad in Australia, on the opposite side of the world, alone, not knowing a soul, or even a friend of a friend may have taken my parents by surprise. As usual, however, they supported me. From a young age and I was always “up to something", or more kindly put a free spirit. Whether exploring “the woods" behind my suburban friends’ houses or journeying wherever, whenever, near & far, I was in!
Traveling has always a passion of mine, and I am super grateful that from a young age I was able to go on family trips that many don’t experience until they’re much older, if at all. It was something I never took for granted – reason being, my mom never even stepped foot on an airplane until she was my current age . This has allowed her to still have that eagerness to explore that is more typically found in younger generations & was [is] my #1 confidant/travel buddy. She’s the Marco to my Polo. On the flip side, I now realize that I wasn’t really “traveling" in the way one does as an adult – it was a vacation – if that makes sense? New places were fun and I bounced around, having a blast like a puppy – on a leash – not needing to be mindful of really anything in terms of planning, navigating, etc. I always had my parents to lean on, the two most trustworthy guides, of all the pickings, so it made sense that I was virtually fearless; no fear of flying, hiking in uncharted territory, etc. I’d never been in a circumstance where taking flight meant leaving the nest alone, however. That was a different story. A scary story. One which led me to fly solo to Australia for 6 months to study abroad, not knowing a soul down under.
As much as wanderlust truly runs through my veins, I’ve always been a mama’s girl at heart. It was hard for me to leave her for a sleepover, never mind an entire trip. I was such a homebody in fact, that the one condition my mother had when it was time for me to apply to colleges, was that they all needed to be out of state.
Booted From The Nest
Salty tears threatened to pool before my mom had even walked out of the dorm room, once she’d done her best to get me settled at the University of Tampa. It didn’t take long for me to make the campus in sunny Florida home sweet home. Facing my fear of leaving home quickly proved itself to be the best move I had ever made. I made friends that would last a lifetime. Moreover, my eyes were opened to the possibilities that lay outside the barriers that I had set for myself. The truth is, the only thing holding you back, is yourself. Once comfortable at UT, I knew that the time had come to scare the shit out of myself, again.
Do One Thing A Day That Scares You
Punching fear in the face was an adrenaline rush that soon proved itself to be very addicting – which is what led me to decide that I needed to study abroad. Alone. Australia was my destination of choice because it is so far away that I’d be unable to fly home to mommy for the weekend if homesickness struck. The travel accommodations to even get over there are somewhat of a trip within themselves. Two weeks is the bare minimum anyone should hope to experience Australia in – even a fortnight really is a stretch. The study abroad experience is the perfect opportunity to soak in the Aussie culture.
Going alone was just as important (and scary) as going far away. Flying solo forced me to branch out and meet new people. Sure, that’s possible with a friend – it’s easier with a friend. But that’s not what this trip was about. I’d have no-one to use an excuse to hang back with when opportunities arose. When things came up that I wasn’t so sure I’d be comfortable doing when the time came, (e.g., skydiving, bungee jumping, etc.), I didn’t want any possibility of needing to hang back for any reason. Driven by the motto of “say yes", in this new environment, allowed for more once-in-a- lifetime experiences than I’d ever dreamed of. I set myself up to live life, rather than just exist.
“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela