I Wish I Made Traveling A Priority When I Was In College
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I Wish I Made Traveling A Priority When I Was In College

I waited until I graduated to travel away from home, and I regret it.

I Wish I Made Traveling A Priority When I Was In College
Arianna Zakrzewski

Finding your place in the world is a difficult, terrifying task. When I was 15 years old, I often dreamed of leaving my hometown, traveling to far-off places and never looking back on the place I've lived my entire life, East Providence, Rhode Island. Fast forward six years, and I'm not quite so idealistic. I no longer dream of uprooting my life, cutting ties with everyone and living in a small apartment in Paris - although I would still love to visit one day. At 21 years old, I dream more of stability than adventure, which is concerning in its own right to me, but that's a problem for another day.

My point is, I'm comfortable where I am. 15 year old me would absolutely hate that - I've become everything I swore I wouldn't. I've got a degree. I still live at home. I'm in a stable, long-term relationship with very real thoughts about settling down - 15 year old me planned on being single and free and never marrying, no matter what. I'm a very different person than I was when I was a teenager.

So, when I decided to temporarily uproot my life, take up a remote position at work and move ten hours away from home to St. Mary's City, Maryland to attend my first archaeological field school - something I've not only dreamed of, but needed to do if I ever want to go to graduate school or get a job in my field - I had some doubts about my decision on the way down. I'd never been on my own before, let alone on my own so far away from home. The closest people I knew - my boyfriend and his family - were a full three-hour car ride away from me. What if there was an emergency? I was practically stranded.

And "stranded" could even be considered an understatement. Had I not brought my car down, I would've been stranded for sure. Historic St. Mary's City is an adorable town, full of rich historical importance, archaeology and beautiful waterfront views. But the closest gas station was a 20-minute car ride. Grocery shopping took a half hour's travel time, one way. It was a bit of a culture shock for me, since I've always been so used to being right in the middle of everything - nothing I need is more than a 10-minute drive from my house in RI.

But, despite the remote location, I sucked it up and toughed out five weeks at this field school, in a remote tourist town, nearly 500-miles from home.

I have absolutely zero regrets, except that I waited until I graduated college to do something like this.

I've always loved Maryland. I've been visiting since I was 15, first with my step-dad's family and then with my boyfriend. I love the small-town vibes and the friendly people I've encountered over the past six years down there. But living there for five weeks on my own gave me a newfound love of the state - and a newfound courage.

I don't really know that courage is the right word for this. But I'm going with it.

A lot of my reasoning behind staying in East Providence, comfortable at home with my mom, staring at my degree in Anthropology - something I've known I was going to get into since I was 8 years old - stems from anxiety. I've been on a straight and steady path my entire life. Sure, there have been a few bumps in the road - my parents divorcing, not getting enough aid to attend the more ~prestigious~ colleges I applied to, etc. - but for the most part I've stayed straight. I've always done well in school. I've always known I wanted to become an archaeologist. I've always had a vision for my future, and even though some of the outer layers have been striped away, the skeleton of my Plan is still there.

But lately I've been thinking a lot about the future. Mostly because, honestly, I don't really have one right now. At least not in the way I've had one in the past.

I'm at a standstill for the first time in my life. This coming fall is the first time in sixteen years that I'm not going to school. And while I know that grad school is definitely in my future eventually, it's very daunting for me to not know what my life is going to be like a year from now - or even three months from now.

But I can't let that fear of the unknown stop me from making a future in the first place. Nothing will come of the rest of my life if I stay stagnant. I'll be the receptionist who never left home - something that makes 15 year old me's skin crawl - and, admittedly, it makes 21 year old me's skin crawl too.

A while back, I wrote about making a post-grad resolution to figure out who I am without school. Now, I'm making a new resolution - because let's be real, New Year's resolutions are for chumps and all major life changes should occur in July, obviously. This new resolution is to branch out more.

I'm going to travel every chance I get to new places. I'm going to visit new sites, take pictures and explore as much as I can. I know I love Rhode Island, and I know I love Maryland, but the world is a huge place - who's to say I won't fall in love with another place on the globe?

The next step in my Plan is to get my PhD and lay my roots down. I can't do that if I don't give myself - if I don't give 15 year old me her chance - to see as much of this world as I possibly can.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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