*Now boarding flight 924 to London Heathrow.* Okay, now breathe. One foot in front of the other. In just eight hours I’ll be living my dream. Just breathe.
Do you think travel is scary? No? What about going to a foreign country all alone for five months? That’s what I did. I gave one last wave to my parents once I passed through airport security and then I hopped on that Boeing 737 to London, England. And in case you were wondering, I was scared out of my freaking mind. Don’t let something hold you back if you’re completely terrified because, for all you know, you might be making some unforgettable memories.
When I glanced out the window of the plane, England didn’t look any different from America. I didn’t really know what to expect from my first ten second glance at Heathrow Airport. It hit me that I was actually in England when the immigration officer said, “Welcome to the UK,” in that strong London English accent. It then hit me even harder when I stepped out of Westminster station and looked straight up at Big Ben. Brits were rushing by, annoyed with the tourists standing in the middle of the sidewalk just gawking at the buildings. But how can you not worship their beauty and history? I eventually became one of those locals annoyed by the tourists standing in the middle of the sidewalk gawking at the buildings. London became my home and I was stripped of my “tourist” status. But, that feeling always came back with every country I visited.
Finding the guts to do stuff by myself was a challenge. I never wanted to go anywhere by myself, whether it was in London or to another country. I started questioning why I even wanted to study abroad if I couldn’t do anything by myself. My first trip was to Amsterdam and I treated that trip as a “How-To” for when I actually found the guts to travel by myself. My friend planned it all and I was always standing over her shoulder to see how she was planning everything. I found out that it’s actually extremely easy and I was just being difficult.
Getting on a plane, train, or bus to another country by myself was never a problem anymore. Traveling alone started to become normal and I gained this confidence I have never had before. The only thing that made me worry was getting to places on time or that I was getting off at the wrong stop and luckily, I only got off at the wrong stop just once.
It’s true what they say, you really do leave a part of your heart in every place you explore. Bits and pieces of my heart remain in London, Brighton, Bath, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Zurich, Munich, Hannover, Prague, Rome, Venice, and Pescara. My fears have been conquered and I’d go back in a heartbeat.