At first I thought my parents were joking. Leaving school behind for six months to travel across Europe? It sounded like something they might just talk about and then forget. But then they kept talking and started planning.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
For a few days all I could think about was seeing Paris, Florence and Istanbul but then I started to worry. I worried about how I would do in school, how I could live in tiny apartments with my whole family, and if I could be away from my friends for half a year. In the lead up to our departure I couldn’t stop worrying. The night before we left I felt paralyzed, all I could think about was leaving my life behind, and how in 24 hours I would be halfway across the world.
The next day was a hurricane of movement and emotion. Saying goodbye to my friends before being whisked off to the airport, boarding a plane, and then catapulting through the sky towards an unknown destination. When I got off the plane I was too jetlagged to experience any emotion except relief at surviving a nine hour flight and eight hour time difference, but as the taxi drove past the Thames I couldn’t help but be amazed at the London skyline.
During that cab ride all I could think about was the excitement that the next six months held, all the culture, the food, the new experiences. In that moment I was no longer afraid, I knew that this six months was going to be the best time of my life.
I have to say I had some of amazing experiences. I got to wander the Louvre by myself and get lost in the awe inspiring power of art. I walked across the Ponte Vecchio at night. I hiked the Lycian Way in Turkey. I even saw day three start of the Tour de France.
The night before we came home I lay awake. I went over everything that I had seen and experienced in six months, the walks along the Spree in Berlin, the singing fountains of Montjuïc in Barcelona, eating lunch canalside in Amsterdam. It was a vast catalog, and I longed to experience it again.
All of the things that I was afraid of really did happen. I lived in tiny apartments for six months with just a suitcase worth of clothes. I was away from my friends and nine hours apart so communicating was hard. I left my life behind, but it was ok, more than ok, it was amazing. Travel has a mysterious power. It has the power to transform fears into real experiences that are pretty awesome.
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