In anticipation of my move to Colombia and my success in making it to the final round of Fulbright to teach English in Brazil, one of my closest friends told me that I’m still the girl who adventures. She told me to trust that life has something amazing coming. I believe it does.
Today, February 1st, has been my launch date since last fall: The day I fly to Colombia. It has been everything I’ve been looking forward to, but I didn’t think about how it would actually feel to leave again.
In 2012, I left for Madrid for roughly the same amount of time, nine months. I didn’t think past that launch date either, and it didn’t hit me until I was flying in limbo between New Jersey and Spain.
Here I am between New Jersey and Colombia feeling the same kind of way. I’m actually doing it: I’m going to Barranquilla to teach English. Wow.
The thing about coming and going is you end up only talking about coming and going. Pre-Colombia conversations have been focused around when I leave, what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be going, so much so that I never truly put thought into how it would actually feel, how today would go, how arriving would be. I find it sad that everyone dwells on the ending and the leaving when I’d much rather think about the beginning and the going.
There’s a butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling I get in airports. I even enjoy how familiar flying is now, though I’ve become accustomed to quick one-day or week-long trips. Today was different. It was weighted with much more nervousness, excitement and anxiety. I usually have a return ticket. I normally know the return date. This time, I don’t. The next time I expect to be stateside is in December. I find it so interesting that people want to know concrete dates – when do you leave? …when do you come back? Ten months is a long time, they say. But I feel ten months is not enough. Putting a stamp on the day I return allows my mind to think through ten months, to fast forward an entire year in my mind, to zoom through 300 days. Imagine how much can happen in ten months.
I know nine months wasn’t enough for me in Spain, and I know how much everything changed during that short amount of time. My experiences in Madrid influenced everything I did upon my return: I got involved in international education at Marist College and with Academic Programs International (API), I devoted my time to Spanish and Portuguese language acquisition, I was passionate about creating a travel-minded community with other study abroaders, and I became health conscious of my mind and body. I felt more confident about where I was headed, and I’m happy that my path has led me to here.
I am so excited to see how Colombia will change me and how I will grow as a person, a traveller and a teacher. I want to be open to new opportunities. I want to let life happen in these next ten months and see where it takes me. I want to welcome this next adventure without focusing on a time limit, a return flight.
I’m taking this ten-month, do-something-I’ve-never-done risk for me. I need to do it. I get this feeing that this is what I’m meant to do. I’m meant to go. There’s something that pulls me away from home and pushes me into the the world. It’s a terrifyingly exciting feeling to crave immersion and experiences in other places. Saying goodbye does not get easier, but welcoming newness becomes more thrilling.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since returning from Spain and losing my dad, it is that how you spend your time is a reflection of you and your capacity to grasp how fleeting it is. Time is everything, and we have the power to decide how we spend it, where we spend it, and who we spend it with. I’m going to Colombia to spend my time doing new things, meeting new people, and learning as much as I can about myself and others. What I do now affects the rest of my life, and my life is worth my time.