Sierra Leone Bound!
Many dreams seem crazy, and ideas seem impossible, until you chat with an STLFer and suddenly it seems crazy not to go after them.
This morning I looked at my phone, the official countdown app displayed a lonely 1. My bags are packed. Malaria meds have started. Only one more day until I leave on my adventure to Sierra Leone, West Africa to visit my friend, former roommate, and STLF alum Kari. Many people I talk to are supportive, for some it comes as a shock, and others think I'm crazy--but wish me well anyway. It seems so normal among STLFers, it is not uncommon to find someone with an upcoming international travel adventure.
For this, I am thankful.
As I've prepared for the trip, I have come to a few definite conclusions:
- I'm in for some quality culture shock, and absolutely new experience
- I'm incredibly thankful to have a travel companion in my friend Liz
- I have STLF to thank for making this experience possible
I studied abroad in college, but after looking through programs offered-made a list of options, English speaking, first world countries. Coming from St. Martin, my wonderful hometown of 343 people, Minneapolis was an adjustment, and any international travel seemed like a big step. Any official language other than English seemed too far a stretch. I will never regret my study abroad experience, but I always felt like I took the easy route in Australia. I made a bucket list on my way home, and decided a significant travel experience on the six livable continents was something I wanted to achieve before my passport expired in 2018. Four years later, I haven't made much progress. Luckily I have coworkers to hold me accountable to my goals. After checking North America and Australia off my list, Africa is going to be a completely different, and perspective changing experience.
As if the vaccinations, visa application, and flight purchase didn't make it real enough, I am so excited that I get to share this experience with Liz-another STLF alum, friend, and another former roommate. Through packing, and looking ahead to 24 hours of airports, flights, and layovers, I am so excited to have a travel partner to share the experiences with. STLF has allowed me to realize the beauty of shared experiences, especially through travel.
Five years ago in Territorial Hall at the University of Minnesota, I met Kari Foley. We served on our hall council together, and had some classes together, but STLF is where our friendship formed. Several retreats, Pay It Forward Tours, and apartments later, graduation snuck up on us. I knew Kari was heading for big things-and that I would go visit her, no matter where in the world that was. To be surrounded and supported by friends that value travel, adventure, and big dreams was new to me in STLF. Many people, from my parents to the bus driver on my Pay It Forward Tour this week learned of my trip and asked, "Why?" Everyone in my office, especially my core, and friends through STLF, has said "That's awesome! So excited for you, only jealous I can't come with."
Have I always enjoyed pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone: yes. Do I value my stubborn independence and doing things on my own whenever possible: yes. But without STLF, Sierra Leone wouldn't even be within the realm of possibility. Without STLF I wouldn't have the safety net of a familiar face, and good company willing to travel to the other side of the world for two weeks. Without STLF, I wouldn't have known my longest standing college friend, and someone to show me around Sierra Leone for the next two weeks.
On May 28, I will be half way done with my 2018 goal!
Write a comment
- Required fields are marked with *.
Reply #1 on : Fri May 11, 2012, 16:16:24