“Dale!” I heard through the whoosh of the city traffic. I jerked my head in the direction of the familiar salutation and instantly recognized her. I hadn’t seen her in almost three months, but with her oversized floppy straw hat draped over her head and the familiar, rich blue and yellow dress that clung to her tan shoulders, she still looked the same.
“Carina!” I shouted back as we both moved closer for a hello hug. After three months I had been reunited with my group leader. She was a twenty-two year old native New Yorker who had led me and my group on a five week trip to Spain. Fresh from four years at Smith College, she studied Spanish, Economics and traveled the world.
Though our trip was my first experience traveling and seeing the world, it was a eye opening one that has left me thirsty for more adventure.
Much of the change that the trip brought about in me came from Carina because she inspired me to push myself while in Spain. She urged me to speak more Spanish and try new foods; she introduced me to Spanish History in fact, when she passed along a book about the Inquisition and Re-Conquest, I spent many late nights of my home stay, with my head perched on my pillow and eyes plowing through the words on the page.
Carina and I went to a rundown Spanish bar to play some sloppy but competitive games of billiards. We laughed and joked about our lack of skill as we fumbled through each shot blaming our misfortunes on the unfamiliar Spanish rules. After the game we sat at a small table directly across from an enormous leg of cured Serrano ham, eating some sort of smelly fried fish tapas. We discussed the rancor of the Catholics against the Jews and Muslims in the last decade of the fifteenth century and though I am not a history buff, I was engrossed by the topic and it helped me learn more about the rich Spanish culture that I had been thrown into.
Now that we were reunited in New York, our conversation picked up again, this time it was crowded by our looming futures. Unfortunately, this meeting was less of a reunion and more of a goodbye. She had a one-way ticket to San Francisco on a flight leaving the next day; she was packing her life into a single box and two suitcases and moving to the other side of the country.
“So do you have a job lined up yet or a place to stay?” I asked, eager to know more about her plan.
“Well… I can stay at my friend’s for a few days until I find an apartment, but I’m going to start looking for a job when I get there.” Although her decision struck me as terrifying, I understood why she was making it. The truth is, I too wanted more than anything to pack my bags and go somewhere new. Still her decision seemed so difficult to make. She already had a job, an apartment and friends in New York. “I am not staying here just because it’s the easier thing to do. Make sure that you do the same in your college endeavors,” she urged me.
The truth of Carina’s words made me realize that the world is full of things to explore and now, as I reach adulthood, I’m ready to discover them. I’ve lived in a small New England town my whole life, and I’ve squeezed the last drops of adventure from its depths; so it’s time to leave and go somewhere I can do something remarkable. I see college as a chance to take a risk and discover new things. I want a school that introduces me to new cultures, beliefs, and ideals and that serves as a base of operations for me to travel the world, putting new knowledge to the test. Whether it’s helping people as a doctor, or performing research for a field study, I want to DO something. I simply want to be more like Carina and not cower in fear of trying something new. She introduced me to the world of bold and daring, and now that I’ve gotten a taste, I’m going to strive for more.
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