Impossible. There’s no way I’m this old already. Well here it is, my 21st birthday. It started at 3:30AM and I left my house around 4:00am to head for the airport. After a 5 hour flight from San Diego to New York, I’m now an 8 hour flight away from Spain.
As I wait for my layover in New York to end, I got a phone call from my Aunt. She told me that I should go ahead and try to get carded at the airport just for fun. It’d be funny to laugh at the bartenders face and tell them that today was actually my 21st birthday. It’s not a bad idea. That would be an alright birthday gift to give myself; just a short little laugh. I was exhausted from packing all night, and a small laugh would energize me. The real gift I’m receiving on this trip is yet another chance to burst out of my comfort zone.
I talk a lot about on this blog how you should get out of your comfort zone and I encourage others how to do so by naming my New York University experience as an example. Now I’m about to do it all over again and throw myself into a state of shock for my 21st birthday.
It’s one thing to go on the opposite coast of a country for college, it’s another level to go internationally into a completely different country for a study abroad experience. I have no idea what to expect, okay that’s a lie because I wouldn’t have chosen to go to Madrid without knowing what I was getting myself into. Regardless, here are some buzzing thoughts going in my mind as I wait here to board my flight to Madrid.
For one, I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve asked some friends about what it’s like and I’ve googled some images about Madrid, Florence, Venice, etc….but this is somewhere I’ve never been before. There’s a feeling of anxiety in my right now about not knowing anyone or anything in Madrid that’s familiar to me….but I’ve overcome this feeling before. This feeling defines what it means to get out of your comfort zone. Yes I’m anxious, but there’s also something in my mind that says this will be a fun ride.
My comfort zone is back home in California. To be honest, it’s either right in front of the T.V. playing video games, or enjoying the nice warm weather without worrying about school. I’ve had my time to relax, and now it’s time to burn that lifestyle away and start my new adventure.
Perhaps my main area of concern is about how I don’t know anyone in Madrid. I understand that I’ll be with other NYU students, but I don’t know them. This is all a part of the process because I realize that everyone else is probably feeling the same way. You see, by reflecting, I see how easy it is to write about how you should get out of your comfort zone and meet new people/try new things. It was easy for me to write about my past experiences in New York because I already knew how those worries turned out…into success. Looking back I had nothing to worry about.
This might be due to the fact that I found myself in a familiar environment with my Cross Country/Track Team:
“We all need a group of people to feel belonged, whether it be through family or friends. I was nervous about leaving all of that behind, but the bright side was that I was going to be a Student Athlete at NYU. The first couple of days were easy for me because I wasn’t going to NYU alone. As a student athlete, I essentially had a group of people to already hang out with.”
Running was apart of my life throughout all of high school, so by meeting a similar group of people in a new environment-I was able to adjust to the New York change easily. The feeling of being on a team created a sense of belonging with a bunch of people in a similar environment.
The problem is, in Madrid, I can’t bring my track team with me…but I can branch out from my other hobbies and meet other people through running. In New York I also had my skateboard and guitar, but I left both of those back home. The hobbies I’m bringing with me are merely my writing notebook, and a pair of running shoes.
No big deal.
I’ll make it work. I’ll find a friend who can lend me a guitar…someone who can share their skateboard with me…and I’ll meet a group of runners as I travel around the park…I’ll develop new hobbies for sure. I’ll force myself to practice Spanish everyday because I’m literally surrounded by thousands of people fluent in the language.
Despite the fact that I’m exhausted I’m ready to look back at this post and laugh to myself. I’ll reflect again and tell myself that once again I had nothing to worry about.
-Oh yeah, now that I’m 21 I can drink alcohol legally now or something like that…