In 14 days, I will be leaving Colorado for 6 months to study and travel in Peru. So many questions run through my head as I try to prepare. What should I be doing right now? How should I be feeling? What should I pack? Why am I doing this again? As I was trying to get to sleep last night, I thought, “I am going to be waking up in a new country, full of mysterious people, a different language and culture.”
Even though I have traveled extensively, I still feel a mix of emotions as I think about leaving home again. Somehow I manage to keep myself together by planning and focusing on the following things:
Tie Things up at Home: If I waited for the perfect time, I would be greeting the Grim Reaper before leaving the country. I like to make sure I have things in order with my university, finances, health and home life. I know I will be missing out on things at home. I have a large, lively family whose upcoming happenings include first words, graduation, a regional spelling bee, new jobs and much more. I couldn’t be more proud of all of them. And it helps to know these feelings are mutual and so is the support that comes along with them.
Pack Lightly: I had to learn on my own. I have been miserable abroad before because I had too much luggage, weighed down with clothes that only fit because I sealed them in vacuum storage bags. I angrily dragged them around for a while, but ended up spending heaps of money to send things back home. Now I know. I have a basic packing list that I modify for weather, length and purpose of trip. If I could tell everyone who is traveling this seemingly basic guideline, I would shout if off of mountain tops all around the world. Less is more.
Have an Educated, Open Mind: Reasonably, I try to have no expectations. This way I can experience things as they are, instead of through a lens fogged by preconceived notions. Also, I love to read about where I’m going. It’s great to have an idea about the people, their customs and history so I’m not going to monuments or ruins clueless to their meaning.
My mind wanders back to this question I ask when I’m about to do something big, “Why am I doing this again?” And my answer is, “Why not?” My goals include learning Spanish, making lifelong friends and gaining new perspective! I live my life to make the unknown known. I want to taste the flavors, see the colors and live the life of a Peruvian!