All my life I’ve been curious to travel and to have fun, to experience life at its most precious and timeless moments. Last summer certainly did not start off as great as I’d hoped it would be. There were many things that I wanted to accomplish, and quite frankly, I was still the shy Lexi I had always been. I wanted nothing more than to exceed that status I once held. On August 22, 2010, I, Alexandra Kadarina Medina, began the vacation that would change my life completely. I finally became independent.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
For my 16th birthday, my mother took me on a Celebrity “Constellation” Cruise through Scandinavia, Russia, the Netherlands and Germany. Leaving my brother behind, I had no one my age to be with which presented a dilemma that I hadn’t prepared myself for: loneliness. Even after boarding the ship I couldn’t manage to rid my issue of feeling alone. While touring Amsterdam, I felt very out of my element and I couldn’t figure out why; I should have been happy and excited! It then hit me while sitting in a Dutch café: I needed to push myself. I needed to burst out of the shell I’d been in for so long and finally make new friends. I decided to give myself a stern talk and said, “You can do this. This is your time to grow.” And that is precisely what I did. Hesitant at first, but eager to blossom into a courageous individual, the first friend I made was Allen. It was through the exhilaration of introducing myself to as well as befriending him that I gained the confidence to go out and meet everyone else my age on the ship. A passage from my travel journal reads, “they invited me to go out with them, and despite my hesitation, I did. And I’m so glad I did.” Meeting everyone on the ship not only boosted my independence level, but it made touring the different cities and countries so much more exciting. For example, in Copenhagen, Denmark, I ran into a friend from the ship, Tyler. It was fun seeing someone I recognized in a new country even though we were both traveling on the same schedule, it made everything a bit more special; sort of like that feeling you get when you share an inside joke with someone. You feel like you know something that no one else knows.
Apart from meeting everyone, I felt myself maturing throughout this trip and I realized it was because of Amsterdam, the city that inspired me so much, with its mesmerizing canals and its incredibly friendly people. “It occurred to me: Amsterdam is where I belong,” read another passage from my journal. It’s because of this one city that I was able to tour every other with such a thirst for knowledge and new culture. Sightseeing in each city, unique in its own special way, gave me traveling experience in fourteen days that most people don’t even gain within their lifetime. It presented a feeling that I’d never experienced before: I was so proud of myself. I, myself, made everything happen. I, on my own prerogative, decided to make new friends, and that alone was enough to permanently instill confidence in myself. Being exposed to all sorts of cultures and all these inner feats made me feel so worldly and wise. From walking through these countries and experiencing their lifestyles firsthand to constantly being inspired, and meeting new people whom I’ll never forget, I was able to become the Lexi I am today: fearless.