Yeah, I said it. International travel? Layovers in foreign countries? Budgeting? Interacting with locals? All of it makes me extremely uneasy. I miss the days when my mom was in charge of all of our trips, because I feel like I am not responsible enough to handle all of this. When I was dropped off for the airport and suddenly faced with the very real fact that I was about to embark on a month-long journey in Cape Town, South Africa, the excitement that I had felt since I was accepted into the Maymester morphed into a very real fear. However, I had prepared for this. I meticulously planned every aspect of the plan that I could: I made a schedule for my layovers, I downloaded the necessary Spotify playlists for my flight, I made a strict budget sheet for the entire trip.
Except that didn’t work.
It worked at first, but then I found myself in Frankfurt, attempting to lead a group of three other girls into the city, walking back and forth between the airport and the bus stop, and getting increasingly frustrated at the fact that I couldn’t find the bus that I had planned on using and that I couldn’t understand the German bus system. What I had forgotten in my planning frenzy was the very first thing that the TAs ever told us when we started our Maymester course: be prepared for the unexpected. One of my travel buddies (who just happens to be my friend) suggested that we just take the train, but I refused because, “That’s not what I planned!!” It wasn’t until she told me to chill out that I realized that I was being incredibly high strung and needed to let go. We ended up taking the train to downtown Frankfurt, spending the day in a beautiful city, and just having a great time.
I know that this event seems small, but it truly was enough to remind me what I was looking forward to on this Maymester. I wanted to be pushed outside of my comfort zone and forced into new experiences. I wanted to see things outside of my own little bubble and to not let my anxiety keep me from exploring what’s out there. Part of that is recognizing my own fear, but allowing myself to work past it in whatever ways that I can. Right now, that looks like deep breathing, pep talks, and taking a buddy everywhere that I go. That’s right. I’ve only been in Cape Town for 72 hours, and I still have to periodically remind myself to just chill out. But these reminders have already allowed me to enjoy South Africa in ways that I did not plan for. What I’m most excited for on this trip is becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable and learning to love the unexpected. Let’s start adventuring.
This post was contributed by LeAnne Maduka, a 2019 Global Ambassador. LeAnne is a biology major studying abroad on the Urban and Economic Development Maymester program in Cape Town, South Africa.
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