Today has been my first time flying alone. I am currently on my flight to Dallas where I’ll have a layover before hopping on my flight to Quito.
I arrived a few hours too early and had some time on my hands, so I ended up wandering around the airport, knowing I’d be sitting for most of the day.
Aside from the fear of losing or forgetting some of my belongings as I walked around the airport, I haven’t felt too nervous about traveling on my own. I’ve been fortunate in having the opportunity to fly pretty frequently, and often I was flying only with my mom. Though she can communicate in English well, she only spoke Spanish until she was much older and navigating around airports in the U.S. is still a challenge for her. When we’ve flown together, I have taken the lead in checking in for our flights and finding our gates. My siblings and I have done this for our parents starting early on. This, along with having the ability and means to (somewhat) frequently visit family in another country, has made me feel confident about flying.
Now on the plane, my journey to Ecuador has begun and I have a little time to reflect on what it’s taken for me to get here. I’ve had immeasurable support from my mom over the last week, and all of my life, really. She helped me relax when I thought about all the tasks I still needed to complete before I left. She allowed me to make a mess in her living room with my belongings as I sorted through what I should and shouldn’t bring with me without a single complaint. She bought a new suitcase for me to use when my old one tore the night before I was supposed to leave, and even agreed to help me repack my things into the new suitcase.
Additionally, I have so much gratitude to all the folks who made it possible for me spend a semester studying abroad without taking out any loans. Folks who contributed to the gofundme, folks who gave me recommendations for places to journey to, folks who talked me through the process of applying for study abroad scholarships or choosing a study abroad program, folks who lent me their hiking gear, folks who are reading about my time abroad now. It has meant so much to receive this support and know I have a community of people who have encouraged me to take advantage of this experience and believe I can accomplish my goals as a WOC in conservation.
Sending much love from 3,000 ft. above the ground.