When I was younger one of my first loves were lions. I had it set in my mind that one day I would be able to see them outside of the zoo and out in the wild like they're meant to be. It wasn't long before I learned that you could only experience that upon traveling about 8,000 miles away from my home in Florida, to the continent of Africa. So, I pocketed that dream for another day and vowed to myself that at some point in my lifetime I'd make the journey and fulfill my childhood dream.

I never thought that that day would come so soon.

I'm currently 19 years old, and as of the day that I'm writing this article it is only 112 days until I hop on a plane, and head to the other side of the world to stay in South Africa for a month. For three weeks I will be living out of a tent in the Dinokeng Game Reserve, and I will spend my last week in Sodwana Bay.

I have the amazing opportunity to travel and go gain experience in the field that I hope to one day work in- conservation. I will be assisting in research efforts, while also taking two, week-long courses. Every day that the trip gets closer, the more surreal the whole thing feels; the whole idea of it feels like a huge dream.

In just over 100 days I'll be walking through a game reserve observing everything that I only ever thought I'd see behind fences- elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras...

In just over 100 days I'll be diving in an ocean with creatures I've only seen on TV- whale sharks, manta rays, great white sharks...

For a month my life will become something my younger self could've only dreamed or imagined, and in that month I'll also be making a difference, helping to protect a diverse ecosystem. I hope it's everything my younger self dreamed, and I hope she's proud of me and excited for what's to come.