I arrived at LAX, almost late, and with two too many bags in tow. I was about to depart on my first international adventure: three and a half months of study abroad in Mombasa, Kenya. My travel itinerary was rough for a newbie: Los Angeles - Amsterdam - Nairobi - Mombasa, which included two layovers, thirty-three hours of total travel and ten crossed time zones.
My memory of the flight is a sleep-deprived blur, but I landed in Amsterdam with determination to explore my first international city. I walked out of the airport dehydrated, delirious and shivering. I was not dressed for the cold, whatsoever. I wore jeans, a sweater, a puffy jacket, and a pair of red Toms with two pairs of socks. I didn’t have a plan, so I took a bus that went into the city.
Some highlights of my day include: (1) It was a literallyrecord-setting cold day in Amsterdam, (2) I slipped on ice and fell on my ass in the main square, (3) I nodded off while rubbing my almost frost-bitten feet during a gondola ride through the frozen river, and (4) I threw away my snow-soaked Toms at the airport.
I ventured into a foreign city without a working knowledge of the language, without cell phone service and without a damn clue about where I was going. At the time, I didn’t realize the feat I had accomplished or that I had done something that most people tend to avoid when they are traveling alone, especially for the first time. But, to me? It was obvious! Sit in the airport for thirteen hours or attempt to explore the city I had heard so much about? I had a choice and took a risk.
What risk, no matter how impractical it may appear, might you have an opportunity to take today?
Written By: Jordan L Bryant
Editing By: DJ Williams
Photos By: Martha Pimentel Photography
Ad Photo By: Blue Eagle Society Photography
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