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There's a First Time for Everything

March 6, 2018


I’ve never been abroad before, and until recently I didn't think much of it. I mean, I always knew I wanted to travel and see the world, but I thought it was just one of those things you did when you were older.


I grew up with the belief that traveling had to be expensive, which meant that international travel was unattainable, and for awhile I accepted this as pure fact. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about college, something about being on your own and having to live like an adult, even for just a few days a week, that really gets to you. I’m already ADHD, so restlessness comes with the territory. But being alone in a dorm on a campus where I know next to no one really amplified my restless tendencies.  


For the first half of this year, I decided to fight my restlessness by keeping myself busy, ALL THE TIME. So I applied for job after job, and I hope I don't jinx it, but I’ve never been turned down for anything that I’ve interviewed for, and I don't know how to say no. Long story short, I currently have three part time jobs and three internships.


Overworking myself satisfied me for a while, but I can’t ignore my desire to travel and see the world. I started looking for other ways to travel that didn't necessarily have to be expensive. I applied for a variety of programs that would take me abroad. I never heard back from any of them, so I started looking into Alpine Living, which was the selling point that made me decide to attend UA, then I discovered Vida!


I was hesitant at first because my main focus has always been on Europe and European countries. I don't know anything about Latin America, and despite having many jobs over the past couple of years, I have never worked as a professional journalist. I mean, I write for an HR magazine in Atlanta, but that just requires me to form opinions, not find sources and interview and actually follow through with it all, what if I can’t do that? What if I’m not cut out for this? Or worse, what if I hate it?


I’m too far into my degree to turn around now. I really should've planned for this sooner, but I did it. I applied, I interviewed and I was offered a position as a writer and a photographer. The dual position was the biggest relief for me. I like to write, but I don't know that I’m necessarily good at it. On the other hand, I can handle photography. I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember, I’m a photographer for Tuscaloosa News, The University of Alabama and Creative Campus. I know I’ve got this, so even if my writing skills fall through, I won’t be useless.


But that still leaves the fact that I have never been abroad, I don't know how any of this works. How long does it really take to get a passport? Is going through customs really as bad as everyone says? What if I forget to pack something, or worse, get held at customs because I packed something wrong? I actually started packing last night, a week and a half early, just in case, but I know I’ll still forget something.  


I have been to New York and California, but how different can their  cultures really be, they're still both in America. I didn't know what to expect going into either of those, but I at least had my mom and my sister with me. But in Costa Rica, I don't know what to expect. I didn't know anything about the country or their culture prior to being accepted to this class, and everything I think I know now, I learned from the internet.  Nothing can prepare me for this experience, and I don't know how I’m going to handle any of it, but I know nothing can stop me from getting on that plane and having the experience of a lifetime. Not even myself.


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