by Riley H. I first heard the song “Despair in the Departure Lounge” by Arctic Monkeys on a CD that a wonderful friend made for me. At first, I couldn’t associate a melancholy feeling with travel. What could be better than seeing the world from a literal bird’s eye view or feeling the immense heat of the sun at a beach with water as blue as the sky? Struck by wanderlust, I absolutely couldn’t wait for this trip abroad. That’s why I was awestruck when I found myself missing home. Looking out the windows of JFK at the lightning streaked sky, I couldn’t help but long for my small room that was barely eleven miles to the west. Nonetheless, I was excited to fly; I live for the exhilaration of meeting the new people seated next to me. Who knows if another’s perspective could alter your life permanently? That is why we travel: to gain perspective and discover things that we’ve never been conscious of. Sure, I may be exhausted from the jet lag and missing spending time with my friends that will get to do things without me; I’m taking classes to better my understanding of French and I’m on a schedule. But I’ve met thirteen girls that have a different life, a different story, a different outlook. Paths I never would’ve crossed if I chose to continue to despair in the terminal. Already I’ve heard a plethora of new music that I probably never would’ve come across if not for the girls, films I never would have seen, buildings and cities I wouldn’t get to explore without the program. I’ve tried new foods that have made me ill but I did it for the experience. Things are clearly different here than New York City, but that’s why it’s so fun. Honestly, no matter what I may experience here, good or bad, I’m in it for the adventure, the experience, getting lost in an unknown town, and the magnificent unknown of it all. Traveling is scary, terrifying, new, amazing, perfect, awful, and wonderful all at the same time. Here’s looking to the many wonderful days to come. I want to close with an anecdote about one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken; I’ve been thinking about it since I’ve left. Many people believe that the road less taken will make all the difference. Little did anyone know that Frost was trying to tell us that in fact, no, there is no difference and everything would end up the same; the choices we make will not reflect upon us in the end. This really resonates with me when I think about it, because I made the choice to come here and while it may not change the course of my life, I will never be the same person because of the experience I’ve had. So that’s what Frost meant. In the grand scheme of things, no, of course what you did and did not do will not matter in the slightest. But it’s your choice to agree with Frost. Because in the moment, we are living, and if you have the opportunity to escape and travel, why wait?
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