By Jordan Puyear | firstname.lastname@example.org
As I stepped off the plane, I felt the cool Colombian breeze throughout the open airport. I walked around the crowd of other passengers, locals and tourists alike, and finally found my best friend. I couldn’t help but run into her arms, partly because I was just happy to see a familiar face among the sea of strangers.
Before she could get a word in, I said “I’m standing on another part of the world.” While that seems like an obvious statement, I was truly astonished that I finally left a country I was so familiar with at the age of 20.
Throughout my life, I was only exposed to road trips. It didn’t matter the distance, my parents always drove, they loved the experience of stopping at hole-in-the-wall restaurants and taking those cliché pictures in front of the state lines. Because of this, I was never exposed to the world of traveling via airplane. I never experienced the responsibility of purchasing a ticket, checking your bags, and navigating the airport. It wasn’t until my best friend from Medellin, Colombia, invited me to stay with her last summer that I even remotely considered flying.
I’ve always wanted to travel, as do many, however, I can honestly say I was terrified. Will my plane crash? Will they lose my luggage? How could I travel without my parents? How can I speak to these people when I know nothing about their culture or language? These questions filled my head, as it did my parents’ (believe me, they weren’t so keen on my summer plans). However, I reminded myself that I graduate from college soon, and what better way to tell myself that I can handle things without my parents than to leave the country.
That plane ride was it: the moment in my life that told me I could honestly go anywhere in this world. I always thought people exaggerated when talking about getting the “travel bug,” but once I experienced another culture, it changed my perspective on a lot. I realized humans are humans, they will work with you, even if you don’t understand certain aspects of their ways. The flight attendants made me feel safe, the Colombian taxi drivers were lively, and the Medellin locals were as passionate and driven as they come.
After I came back from that wonderful adventure, I even told myself I could work in another country, help my parents get out of the U.S. for the first time, and eventually travel to the most obscure places because those are the ones with the most heart.
If you are even remotely thinking about traveling outside of your familiar environment, do it. Experiencing the unknown is what makes you appreciate the little things; you’ll see beautiful scenery, meet passionate people, eat vastly different cuisines, and so much more. Don’t let the fear of something as minute as a plan ride stop you from standing on another part of the world.