Standing in the international terminal of LAX saying goodbye to my family before I boarded a plane to Auckland, New Zealand, there were words of comfort and encouragement. One thing that particularly stuck out to me was my mom telling me how brave I was for deciding to do this. I didn’t really understand what she meant at the time.
Now, less than two weeks into my five-month-long journey, I’ve got the idea. I knew that I would learn a lot about myself during my time abroad, but I didn’t realize how quickly the lessons would start, and the first lesson I’ve learned is without a doubt, how important it is to be brave and how brave I have become when I needed to most. I was very comfortable with my life at USC, and I still shock myself when I realize what a big shake-up I willingly put myself through.
In just this short time though, I’ve adjusted and begun to thrive. At the beginning of any new experience, there is a learning curve. The curve when you decide to move to a different hemisphere is just a little larger than when you decide to take up a new hobby.
Within the first week I had been further south on the globe than I’ve ever been before; seen fjords, rivers and volcanoes; and traversed through the terrain where Lord of the Rings was filmed. How many people can say that about their February?
As I was reflecting on my move to a new city a couple days ago, I also realized that I was starting to understand what my mom meant when she said she was proud of how brave I was. It takes a lot of guts to leave everything you know and love to embark on what you are hoping will be the adventure of the lifetime, but hey, as with anything in life — there are no guarantees.
However, as most would assume with study abroad, it has been wonderful. The opportunity to see a different part of the world is humbling, and every time I look at a map to see where I am in relation with where other people are, I’m astounded. It does take a lot of bravery to get on a plane and go somewhere new, but it doesn’t stop there. It takes a lot of bravery to get up each morning and commit to having a new adventure.
At the beginning it was scary to head out into the city on a quest for shampoo or sunscreen, let alone trying to find groceries or somewhere to eat dinner. But you learn much more quickly than you think you will. From feeling helplessly lost and culture-shocked on my first night here, to now confidently traversing the city looking for new places to eat and neighborhoods to check out, I have become much more brave than I realized I could.
Even though every day hasn’t been jammed with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, the overall experience is just that. Wanting to make the most of my time here has been what I’ve found to push me the most. I want to be brave and go out and explore, because that is what I set out to do. I am here to learn more about the world, but also more about myself, and I can only imagine what four more months here will bring when I’ve already pushed myself so much in the first two weeks.