CISAbroad: Summer in Hawai'i
A Wanderer in the Making
My family has always stressed the importance of sticking to your routes. Family, traditions, etc. And considering my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother have raised their children in the same small town within three generations, oh have they done just that. Though I never seem to understand why we've stayed in the "Quiet Corner" I do respect and appreciate the routes I have grown up with, and always having family close by.
I have always been a wanderer, and yes, you can be a wanderer even if you haven't been anywhere yet. I have been a curious, dreamer, who wanted to take off in the world, but everyone around me was comfortable staying put.
Because I grew up in a small town, I would be lying if I said I did not grow up sheltered. I acknowledge that now, in my college years, because living in Boston has opened so many doors for me. My mother used to be incredibly anxious driving in the city, so when she did we would clap for her. My mom's anxieties had been different than mine, and I will never shame her for them, but I knew I did not want to be shaking at the wheel navigating a new city in my 40's. Things that are so normal in Boston, like taking transit, and crossing the street when it doesn't say "walk" yet and hoping for the best (aha)- are big things when you were raised in a rural cow town. I was told not to walk alone in the city.. and well, I don't really know how to get to where I need to be without going alone.
I am grateful for my childhood, though I occasionally tease my mother that I "missed out" by her not letting me go to 4H camp. "You will be homesick, you will miss your mama." I remember her saying. Like, mom, I do love you, but please let me go! She realizes now that I would've been fine.
I also do not shame her for wanting to hold me close.
When I got to college I could not stop talking about studying abroad. My mom thought I was crazy. Why would you want to do that? She didn't want to hear it. That did not stop me from talking about it though.
South Africa! No, Thailand! No, Africa! Uh, how can I choose?
When you reach 18 you are an "adult" and it is believed you can make your own decisions. Though, almost every student I know needs a parent/guardian's support whether it is signing paperwork, helping with payments, etc, and not everyone has that support. Especially when it comes to travel and education!
I wanted to meet my mom halfway. I wanted to honor her concerns, while opening her mind as well. To me, it did not matter as much where I were to go, I just wanted a very different experience that would allow me to have the independence I was yearning for.
I told my mom about Hawaii's summer "abroad" program.
U.S. but a cultural experience as well
One day she just asked me what we needed to do as far as paperwork to get started, and though I never heard a "yes" I knew that was her telling me she had thought about it and was ready to move forward. I could not believe it. I still can't believe it!!
I had not been further north than Quebec, and further south than Florida. For me, this is huge!
butterfly fly away
I said in a recent post, that I had something big coming.
This was it.
The 4 year old with severe separation anxiety.
The 17 year old who couldn't get out of bed most days.
The girl who feared "I can't"
was navigating the airport alone-
a smile on her face-
making conversation with strangers-
taking care of herself on a 13 hour flight-
not a bit scared.
I kept telling myself, "you need this." "you deserve this." Months ago I was advocating for a restraining order on a coworker, I learned that someone I trusted stole a lot of money from me, I wanted the semester to be over, and I called home often with that same voice in my head telling my mom "I can't."
I contemplated taking the rest of the year off. The responsibilities I had were not balancing out the healing I needed.
My inner voice said, you are almost there. Soon you will be in Hawai'i, you will tear up on the plane realizing you're doing it all, and you are going to be so happy.
I was right.
Study in the sun
I am taking a Marketing course at Hawai'i Pacific University while I am here, to begin my minor in Entrepreneurship. My course meets twice a week, 3 hours each, so I have most days off to explore!
There are currently 6 of us in my program.
4 of us are taking classes, and 2 are interning.
For most of us, this was our first time traveling alone, and our first time in Hawai'i.
Quickly, we became close. Living a 5 min walk from the beach, and just steps away from the city. We have our different schedules, our independence, but we do enjoy going places in groups.
I can honestly say these people are my family away from family. I did not doubt I would make friends, but it has been amazing to see how easy-going our group is, and how much fun we have together.
Before I left for Hawai'i I made a long list of things I wanted to see and do. I also made a list that was much shorter: what I hoped to take from my time here.
The same things are just as important to me.
I want to grow as I challenge my comfort zone.
I want to communicate with different types of people. I want to make friends; not be afraid to let others see my light.
& last on my list:
I want the "goodbye" to be difficult, because that means it was worth it.
I'm not there yet, though. I am still celebrating the "I did it!" and the "I'm doing it!" stage. I am taking in all the beauty, the experience of a lifetime.
Small town girl, with many anxieties and overwhelming feelings- traveling alone, studying away from home. It's possible.
I didn't think this would be me, but it is, and I will celebrate that every chance I get.