The day is finally here! Today I am on a plane flying across the world, embarking on my biggest trip yet. It’s funny really, I am always eager and I count down to the day that I travel, but in reality I always dread the day I leave. Flying has never been an issue for me, and the long days of travel seem to always go by quite quickly. The hardest part without fail, is saying goodbye. However, with this being my third big solo trip in my lifetime, it is slowly getting easier. But it will never be easy. Not knowing when I will see my family and friends again is one of the most heartbreaking feelings I have ever felt. To everyone back at home reading this… Thank you, I love you. I am so grateful for your support, as I would not have been able to do this without you.
I have always loved to travel. As a kid, we used to take trips to Mexico a lot, I traveled down to the USA, and to BC, Saskatchewan or Ontario throughout my life a few times too. It wasn’t until I took my first solo trip to Spain, where I did a high school exchange in Madrid, that I got out of North America. At this time I had been studying Spanish for a year and a bit in school, but I lacked the confidence to do well. It was terrifying to think I would be living in a country where English wasn’t the first language. I remember the days leading up to my departure, crying at every person I had to say goodbye to. It was hard. I was scared. After the hard part, and I think to no ones surprise, I had an amazing time and the hurt and heartbreak at the start was all worth it. The history, the different culture and everything I experienced in Spain was breathtaking for me. That’s when I realized I had a love for the world and the day I got home, I made it my mission to see it all.
After my exchange I stayed home and finished high school, mostly staying home. I made a few trips out west and, once to Mexico for a mission through some of my friends that were a part of the nearby church. In the four days that we spent on site with the families in Mexico, I learnt more about language barrier than I did in the three months in Spain. The reasoning for that is, the majority of people in Madrid that I met spoke English. Unfortunately, I honestly didn’t take enough initiative to learn Spanish during that trip since everyone I met wanted to practice their English with me. Looking back at it I really regret that decision, but I don’t blame shy 16 year old me as I didn’t know any better. Apart from the father (who was not always there), the family on my site didn’t speak any English. We had one translator for the whole team, and to my recollection we had 8 build teams. It amazed me to watch the family interact with my team and to see how well everyone could communicate despite the language barrier. I felt honoured to be a part of this moment in this family’s life, and I hope that everyone else there felt the same. It was extremely humbling and educational, and I believe that this trip is what helped push me past my fear of a language barrier.
I graduated high school in June of 2017, and I immediately wanted to leave Calgary. However, since I had taken time off in high school for my trip to Spain I was a semester behind in my classes. This meant taking extra classes and having long days at the school, making it extremely difficult to work and to save the money. So I stayed at home for just over 6 months to save up money for my next trip. It wasn’t until midsummer, that I had decided on Australia as my next destination. My uncle had recently gotten married and was living with his wife in Adelaide, and the announced that they were expecting! I took this as a perfect opportunity and early February of 2018 I set off to visit them and to see where the trip would take me. It was hard to say goodbyes here too, I think the hardest of all of them. I had an amazing group of friends back home, which was something I struggled with growing up (a topic for another time). Finally having people I could honestly rely on and trust was an amazing feeling. So saying goodbye not only to my family, but also to those close friends was crushing. I even struggled the first week or so, wondering if I had completely screwed up my life back home. Thankfully, once again it was completely worth it. I learned how to struggle and how to budget better on this trip. I realized living alone is expensive and isn’t as easy as it looks. I got over wanting brand names, and expensive makeup, and a lot of things I cared about prior to my trip. I realized that a $7 thrift shop pair of jeans works just as well as a $70 brand name pair. I learned so much about myself, and although broke and far from home, I felt inspired.
I am currently on my flight from Vancouver to Taiwan, should be landing in about an hour. I’ve said my goodbyes, and now all I have to do is wait for the wonderful things that this trip through SE Asia has in store for me. I cannot wait to learn, to struggle, to be inspired, and to be pushed out of my comfort zone again and again. Those are the things which shape me, and I am excited to grow and to become who I am supposed to be.