So I’m sitting on the plane en route to Rome (thankfully I got a window seat with no one next to me so I’m free to stretch out and sleep comfortably)! Everything just seems so surreal… it still hasn’t hit me that I’m literally living my dream. Ever since I was a little kid I fantasized of travelling the world. I read the entire book A Thousand Places to See Before You Die and marked all of the places I wanted to see with sticky notes (basically every page). It’s truly insane to me that I’m actually accomplishing the dreams I’ve held onto since elementary school. Even a month ago, I never imagined myself going to Japan and Ghana. I’ve been talking about my gap year and changing the plans for months and now it’s finally beginning. Last night I had a bonfire and I kept talking about my travel plans for “next year”, then one of my friends pointed out that “next year” was actually tomorrow… I’ve always imagined my gap year so far ahead in the future; it’s crazy that it’s starting now.
I can’t help but to think back to two years ago when I left for Italy as an eager 15-year-old exchange student. I feel like I was so young back then, still an amateur traveler and immature teenager with no clue what a life-changing experience I was about to have! I can’t believe that I’m doing it all over again: saying good-bye to my friends, family and home for another school year. Except this time, it’s different because I’m more independent. There’s no AFS chaperones herding me and a bunch of other exchange students around the airport, no one holding my passport so I don’t lose it by accident, no friends (Sergio!) to talk to during the flight. I’m travelling all alone this time and everything is my responsibility. A lot of people have asked me if I’m nervous or scared and the answer is no. I’m confident in my ability to take care of myself. I learned so much from my year in Italy and even my last two years in high school that I’m not worried. I’m much more mature and experienced than the last time I left for Italy. After all, practice makes perfect and I have plenty of practice travelling, taking care of myself and being independent. I’m so ready to begin (hopefully) one of the best years of my life!
I’m really going to miss everyone back home in Ohio so let’s all keep in touch! You can sign up for e-mail notifications for my blog so that every time I write a new post, you’ll get an e-mail! (It’s on the right hand side of my blog) Also I’m going to have unlimited international texting and 2G data everywhere so feel free to text, Skype, Facebook message, e-mail, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Tweet, FaceTime or even snail mail me anytime! It’s so weird that me and all of my friends’ lives are about to completely change; we’re all going our separate ways. Although it’s sad, I think it’s more exciting than anything because we’re all growing up and pursuing our life goals. It’s going to be awesome to hear about everyone’s differing lives and fun times at college!
It’s been a week and a half since I last saw Mihai. He went on vacation to Las Vegas and California with his family and isn’t coming home until Friday so we had to say our good-byes early :( Our last day together was bittersweet. He got me a promise ring that has hearts with our birthstones intertwined with an infinity symbol and our names engraved on it! He stole rings from my bedroom to find out what size finger I am hahaha and he made me a bunch of letters to open at different times throughout the year, for example one envelope says to open when I feel like reminiscing :) Being in a long distance relationship hasn’t been too bad so far because we’ve been texting and FaceTiming a lot (seriously thank goodness we live in the age of technology) but I still miss Mihai so much. Everything reminds me of him. I wish that he could share all these new experiences with me. It’s okay though; our time to travel the world together will come one day :) I just keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have even met him at all and how I’ll get to see him in just 2 months! Plus, it’s kind of cool to see our relationship grow and our bond get stronger while we’re apart. He still hasn’t gotten his host family information yet even though he leaves at the end of August, which is a little bit annoying because I’m waiting to pick a Workaway that’s close to where he lives… but oh well nothing much we can do besides wait.
One last thing, if anyone ever wants any advice about travelling please don’t hesitate to contact me! Besides updating friends and family on my life, I also hope that this blog will inspire people to get up and experience the world. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know you, if you have any thoughts or questions just talk to me! A lot of people (especially young ones) think that they don’t have the finances to travel. But in reality, there are so many affordable options out there for students! From study abroad scholarships to discounted flight rates for students to Workaways and Couchsurfing, travelling doesn’t HAVE to cost a fortune. All you need is to be smart with your money and determined! Don’t think that exploring the world is out of your reach because it’s not at all. And I’m here to help you discover and chase your wanderlust! :)
Well I’m going to go try and get some sleep so that this flight will fly by (haha get it?!). Next time I post I’ll be coming at ya live from ITALIA!! Bye! :)
P.S. I managed to pack the necessities for next year in one 45-pound suitcase, another 35-pound carry-on suitcase and a backpack! It took almost an entire day but I did it (I’m very proud of myself because last time I went to Italy I had to pay a bunch extra since my suitcase was almost 80 pounds)!! And my Obachan is going to bring me some winter clothes for Japan so that’s good too. I’ll still probably be wearing a lot of the same clothes in my pictures but whatever!