How I Unexpectedly Fell In Love With Myself Abroad

An Atlantan at heart, I had never truly made any real efforts to see what was beyond the borders of Interstate 285. Part of that might have been my introverted nature, something that I still struggle with today, but I hadn’t made the decision to take the leap and go further.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had always loved the idea of travelling and seeing new places, experiencing new cultures, and eating new foods (my personal favorite). I had been to Mexico a few times and Nassau, but I felt like I hadn’t gone far enough. I still felt a safety net that wasn’t letting me feel like I was ‘seeing the world.’ Flashback to the beginning of the second semester of my junior year of college, I was late to my French class and as I was passing the student center, I was handed a flyer about a study abroad trip. Like many other students, I folded it up, stuffed it in my backpack and kept on my way. It wasn’t until I got home from class that I had looked at the application online and figured – why not? It was a goal at the top of my college bucket list and that I hadn’t fulfilled yet.

Three weeks later, on the morning after my 21st birthday, I opened an email that told me I was going to be spending three weeks in Australia and two weeks in Fiji. What should have been a great surprise turned into doubt, anxiety, and panic almost instantly. What was I going to do with my hair? What if I didn’t know anyone else going on the trip? What if something happens to me while I’m gone? I had never been this far away from home for so long and it shook me to the point where I realized I was not ready. I was not ready to be this independent and on my own.

From the first stop in Sydney and trying kangaroo burgers with my teaching assistant to cracking whips in Kooralbyn, I had never felt more out of my comfort zone and so connected to myself at the same time. Every day was an opportunity to find out how I wanted to live this adventure and create my own memories. Sometimes I hung out with the friends I made and did the activities that everybody else was doing, and other times, I wandered around the area we were in – not knowing what I was going to find or where I was going to end up.

All of this to say, I went across the globe not having any intentions and initially hesitant in the first place. But, had I not gone, I wouldn’t have found out that I like being able to do things at my own pace, without the worry of accommodating others. I’m more confident in myself and I know that I can be comfortable while still finding the unknown. If there is nothing that I learned on this trip, it’s that it is okay to be unsure, but never let that stop you from going the distance.

Jordan OckleberryComment