I come from a family of travelers.
Before every trip departure, as we roll out of our driveway, my family says the same phrase: "Here's good luck and away we go." My grandmother started this tradition and I still find myself saying it whenever I leave home for a good chunk of time. Whether it's a family trip to Austria, 2 months in Israel, or just move-in day at Penn State, there is something comforting about this simple ritual of ours. It is a sense of familiarity before inevitable uncertainty.
Today marks T-minus 6 days until the next time I will say this phrase. It will be in a blue Toyota Camry with my mom and dad as we listen to classic rock on 102.9. In the trunk will be squeezed 1 checked bag stuffed with clothes, 1 carry on suitcase of things my mom insists I need, and 1 backpack of actual necessities (aka snacks and lip balm). These items will follow me from Philly to Madrid to Málaga where the journey will actually begin.
After a 45 minute drive, the sign for ‘departures’ appears in front of the Philadelphia skyline. My dad will kiss me on the cheek, my mom will cry, and for her sake I will check for the 538th time to make sure I have my phone and passport. If you don’t already know me, you can probably tell by now that I’m a very organized person who just happens to lose my phone frequently.
PHL international airport is my last slice of home before my new journey begins. Boasting soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the smell of comfort food fills the terminals and almost beckons me to stay. Yet the snow on the ground and the cold TSA workers remind my why leaving is for my own good.
As always, I will take a moment to knock at the entrance as I board the plane. And once take-off approaches I will mimic the engines spinning like my dad taught me as a toddler.
Recently I have come to realize that these small rituals hold more meaning than I once believed. It is something consistent and controllable at an otherwise turbulent time. They remind me to stay calm, breathe, and let go-- because as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes life cannot be controlled.
Whether you travel frequently, commute daily to school or work, or struggle with life’s unpredictability, I want to offer you a piece of advice. Create a routine. To some people this means a consistent wake up time every morning. To others this means praying before meals. However you interpret and practice it is the right way. I’ve found that structure in an ever changing world is comforting to me, and I’ll take as much comfort as I can get while I study abroad this spring.
So even though I don’t have my bags packed, I don’t know my host family, and I don’t know which classes I will take abroad, I can count on one thing:
Here’s good luck and away I go.
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<p>I'm a junior at Penn State studying film/video, international studies & Spanish. I am very passionate about watching sunsets and eating french fries. Previous international experience includes an internship in Israel, a documentary shoot in London, and a service trip to Honduras. Fun fact-- I spent last summer on 3 different continents!</p>