Although I’ve traveled many times in my life with my family, never have I traveled alone, especially overseas. The days leading up to my travels were filled with lots of packing and panicking.
To deal with the anxiety of traveling alone to a new country, I imagined my travels as if I were in a movie — a movie covering only a few months of my life, but an extremely important and eventful time in my life.
(Cue a groovy Belle & Sebastian song)
Now imagine a montage of images: my mom and I driving to the airport, parking, checking luggage, getting patted down at security and finally sitting down at the correct gate before my flight takes off, three hours later.
Here is where my reality check hits: I am sitting alone, in an airport, traveling to a new country, completely by myself. I swallowed my panic, and instead, forced myself to reflect on my situation.
Yes, I am all alone, and if something goes wrong I have to deal with it myself. Yet, focusing on what could happen in the future would do me no good. I need to simply sit and appreciate my experience as I sit in the airport, watching time slowly tick by.
Thankfully, after about 10 hours of driving, airports and flying, I woke up on my flight to look out the window at the sunrise in Brussels at 7:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. in Hanover, Ind.).
As I watched the sun hit the green countrysides, I realized how important it is to slow down and not look forward to all of the things that are coming on this trip. Rather than focusing on my destination, it is extremely important to focus on all the time and experiences you have while getting to that destination.
Traveling abroad isn’t like a movie, where all the events the protagonist experiences lead up to one big final ending. It’s more like a really, really great album. In a diverse group of songs, you can hear about different stories or problems that the artist deals with, and appreciate the unique instruments, noises and lyrics that create each song. But there isn’t just one huge song, there are many songs, filled with different experiences and stories that create one album or one experience.
My hope for my travel abroad experience is to slow down and appreciate all the small adventures I’ll have as I travel through this country. It seems to be a complete mystery to me, as do all the things I’ll learn trying to take these grand adventures!
In the spirit of my realization, on my first day here, my roommate Ayaka, fellow Hanoverian Sima and I took a spontaneous trip to Brussels (only 15 minutes away, but still!), so here are a couple of pictures from our exploration of the beautiful city: