After months of planning, I am now just days away from stepping onto the plane that will take me on the greatest adventure of my life. This summer I will be spending four weeks in Quito, Ecuador, three weeks in the Galapagos Islands, and will even be flying out a week early in order to hike to the incredible Machu Picchu in Peru. Though I’ve been planning this trip for months, it seems that I’ve just realized that I’m actually going! It has been easy to get caught up in the stress and details of planning, and I don’t think that it will actually hit me that I’m going until I’m on the plane. It has been quite the flurry of booking flights, applying for loans, and starting to pack, and I’m only beginning to think about the fact that I really get to spend my whole summer abroad, immersed in a language and culture about which I am so excited to learn. As I enter the final days of crazed planning prior to starting to live out my plans, I thought it would be a good idea to set a few goals for myself to ensure that I am able to live out the summer of my dreams.
- Take time to adjust
- Can’t forget about culture shock! As my program is about seven weeks, I know that I will be tempted to jump right into the excitement of things. Though I want to make the most of each opportunity, I also want to give myself the chance to acknowledge the stress and homesickness so that I can move through it and onto the fun of all the new experiences!
- Document my adventure
- One thing that I want to do is document my trip! I will be bringing my GoPro, a camera, and my iPhone, so I’ll have plenty of ability to take pictures and videos to help me remember this summer. That said, I also want to make sure that I do not get stuck behind my screen and am sure to enjoy the moments as I live them.
- Connect with the culture
- As a Spanish language learner and someone who hopes to one day speak the language fluently, one of the things that I am most looking forward to is the ability to practice my Spanish skills! I want to commit myself to really taking advantage of the opportunity for immersion that I have, and to make the most of practicing the language with my host family and other members of the communities I will be living in—and to learn about the history and culture as well!
- Spend wisely
- Knowing my love for knick-knacks, I know I will be easily attracted to all the items sold by street vendors and in the markets—and I look forward to the opportunity to support local businesses! However, I do want to make sure that I spend more of my money on things that will supplement my experience, like experiences and local cuisine.
- Don’t give in to FOMO
- Ah the notorious FOMO—or fear of missing out. Encouraged by social media and rampant already at home, I’ve already begun to lament missing out on some of my favorite summer activities: Chicago Blues fest, blueberry picking, weekends in Michigan, and 4th of July pool parties. This summer I will need to acknowledge the FOMO, and then take a deep breath and be grateful for my experience—and remember that all these things will be waiting for me when I return!
- Don’t be afraid of fear
- Every part of this trip is so far out of my comfort zone, and that’s fantastic! I look forward to becoming chummy with discomfort and nervous excitement, and will be challenged to listen to my heart to lean into the fear for the sake of growth, as well as listening to my brain to keep me safe.
By my next post, I will already have conquered my first multi-day hike, my first experience as a solo female traveler, and will have stepped foot in Quito and met my host family for the first time! Armed with some out-of-practice Spanish, a bunch of books for long layovers, and even more nerves, I am ready as can be to start this adventure.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for updates on how these plans and goals play out!
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<p>Hi, I'm Maya! I'm a Health Sciences major at Saint Louis University and am studying to be a physician assistant. I have a passion for people, and here at SLU I am a resident adviser, co-president of pre-PA club, and am involved in many service organizations promoting diversity and community engagement in the St. Louis area. I love hammocking, roller blading, hiking, and reading!</p>