I’m not sitting on the sidelines this time. I have four weeks left in the most beautiful places in the world. I’m not sitting on the sidelines.
So I went to the aquarium last Friday, which was something I was truly excited for—being a biology major and a huge child and all that. But I felt like I was slowing my company down the entire time, so I sped my pace up so that I wouldn’t bore my friend to death. But when I got home, I realized I forgot to do some of the things that I absolutely love doing in aquariums…because I didn’t want to inconvenience the people I was with.
And then this weekend, it hit me: I’m a grown ass woman, and I don’t need company for everything. Sure, back in DC, I did heaps of stuff on my own. But there was something about touristy things that just made me reach out for company, like it was a taboo for me to browse through one of Sydney’s coolest attraction alone.
While company is great, it’s awesome to have some time alone every once in a while, especially when exploring unknown territory, whether it’s a new city or a hidden part of yourself. When you’re alone, you get to do things the way you want to do them, which is an opportunity you should take advantage of while traveling.
If you choose to travel or explore with friends, it’s important to have the ‘right’ people around you, especially if you’re looking to learn something new. People who take the time to appreciate new things and simply learn about whatever it is the attraction or restaurant or landscape has to offer—whether it’s their cup of tea or not—are the best sort of company, I’m finding.
Today, I ventured into the area by Hyde Park and up to the Quay without even asking my friends what they were doing today. And I found pleasure in simply being able to exert my own independence. Eventually, a friend joined me of his own volition, and I found that he was pretty awesome company when it came to meandering through the Botanical Garden along the harbor.
Lesson of the day? Don’t be afraid to take adventures of your own. You never know what you might find.
March 2, 2014
Over the past few days, as orientation week unfolded and I mixed and mingled with the other enthusiastic exchange students, I have been mulling over this essay favorite: “What do you hope to achieve from your study abroad experience?”
Of course, I wrote a whole essay on said topic in order to even get here. But after two weeks of actually being here, the question means something else entirely.
Studying so far away from home appealed to me because it would take me away from the things that I was used to: family, friends, and my home. I am one of those who think people are capable of change (or at least deserve the opportunity to change—fostered by the ‘right’ situation and all that). But I think that it’s hard to change yourself when everything around you is the same. Somehow, picking up and coming halfway around the world just made sense.
I want to allow this experience to change me. I hope this short time in such a dynamic place will replace some of my fears and insecurities with more comfort in my skin and some easygoing confidence. I hope to learn to forgive some of my mistakes, to forget the regrets, and to finally live by the many lessons I have learned in my years away from home. And, I think most importantly, I want to gain back that drive I used to have to go for what I want without looking back.
I have definitely taken steps towards the person I want to be, but, somehow, some of the rocky terrain made me lose my footing, causing me to stumble back a ways. I needed to start over somewhere new, to have a second chance with a different uneven path.
I don’t know what’s at the end of this one, and, for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I don’t care about the destination. This path is all about the flora and fauna and soil along the way. I think I’ve been too focused on the future for too long. I’m putting many, many aspects of my life on hold for six months as I focus on this journey—and I’m okay with it.