In less than 24 hours, I’ll be sitting on a plane en route to Doha, Qatar. Except instead of sitting comfortably, I'll likely be contorting my body into some awkward position to sleep without bumping my neighbor.
Cozy full-sized bed tonight, cramped airplane chamber tomorrow.
But if I survive a flight to the Middle East, a seven-hour layover in Doha and my final red-eye flight, on Saturday morning I will reach my much-anticipated destination: Kathmandu, Nepal.
My decision to go to Nepal was impulsive. About six weeks ago, I realized that yes, I really was deluding myself into thinking I could bear another summer at home. It’s not that I live in a totally godforsaken town (although it comes close), but I have been itching to leave ever since I got back from Europe last summer. A need to see the world is difficult to describe to one who hasn't been bitten by the travel bug, but I couldn’t ignore the feeling any longer. So I did what anyone struck with wanderlust would do: found a volunteer program in Asia, booked my flights and then stopped to ask myself, “Is this really happening?”
For my volunteer project, through Experiential Learning International, I will be working in an orphanage and teaching English to Nepali children. I have no idea how to teach, but I’m so excited to meet the kids (My suitcase is filled with Pop Rocks, books and puzzles to give them).
While volunteering will be my main focus in Nepal, another top priority is writing. I’ll be updating this blog as often as possible, writing a travel series for my local newspaper and hopefully working on some side projects for school. As an aspiring writer (the pretentious term I like to use instead of journalist), Nepal will give me an opportunity to build my portfolio.
Entering this program, I have no expectations other than to learn and grow as a person. Some of my friends have asked me, “Aren’t you scared, traveling around the world by yourself?” Of course. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve dreamed about being lost in the airport, which I imagine is just as annoying in reality. Yet some of my best life experiences have come from pushing myself to the brink of an anxiety attack, or to the edge of an open airplane door 14,000 feet above Earth (not a metaphor). Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and know that in doing so, it will change you.
“I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.”