Nothing prepares you for months of traveling. It is a learning experience that is so rewarding. The perspective you gain is called the traveler's mindset and is shaped through your experiences.
I was hiking GrandFather mountain in North Carolina. We were getting far up on the mountain. We came to a ladder; it connected two separated rocks and was somewhat in midair. My friend refused to go any further with me but we were almost at the peak. I went by myself. At 17, this was the first time I realized sometimes you have to do things alone. If you wait on someone else to do it with you, you could be waiting forever.
Now I love putting myself in situations of the unknown. My love for North Carolina influenced my decision to study abroad. I always wanted to take the jump and travel for a few months with no responsibilities. It has not been the easiest decision but it has definitely been the best decision I have ever made.
Life always seems to take us by surprise. You truly never know what could happen. There are many times where I've had to think on my feet. Cell phone service isn't always reliable and maps don't always give the right directions.
One time I bought the wrong bus ticket back to my apartment which is an hour outside of the city. The next buses were sold out until midday. I went to stay at a friends' house however my phone was dead. I had to ride the Madrid Metro and walk to the apartment by memory. The silver lining is: Know your surroundings and use solution-oriented thinking.
Traveling isn't always easy. Flights are delayed, people are crazy, and things happen. You have to have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. Life is truly too short to get frustrated over things that won't matter in the long run.
Language barriers can be rough, but with patience, I have learned many things about other cultures. I have had people teach me new words; I have taught them some English. If you're lucky, it can be a positive learning experience for both parties. Maybe you'll even come home speaking another language.
Sometimes you have to think on your feet, other times you have to run on them. Time is not always on my side. Mistakes happen; they are the biggest opportunity to learn.
I can sadly name more than one time I've had to sprint to make it to a bus or flight. Recently, I had a six-hour layover. I was so tired I slept until 30 minutes before my next flight. I thought the airport was small and it would be no problem; I thought wrong. I had to go through passport and security check again. I was running through the terminal, everyone had already boarded the plane, and I had two minutes to spare. Let's just say adrenaline is a great boost of agility.