By Jonah Weingarten
Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula
[3.5 minute read]
Throughout my life, I have traveled all around the world. I have been to Israel, Spain (twice), the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Costa Rica, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Mexico. Soon, I will also be going to Canada for the first time. Although I love traveling, there are some things about the traveling experience that haven’t always been easy for me: I used to struggle with traveling alone.
The first time I ever traveled alone was when I went to Costa Rica the summer after my freshman year of high school. I remember it clearly-it was 3:00 in the morning and I had just woken up. I was so excited to go abroad alone for the first time, but at the same time I was really scared. My flight was not until 8:30, but the program told us to arrive 4 hours before because of customs and traveling to South America. Since LAX was decently close to us, we left at 4 o’clock. The roads were completely empty and I already knew we could have left later. When we got to the airport, my mom parked and walked me to security. Since this was my first time flying alone, I was not quite sure what to do. I followed my mom to the bag check and we checked my bag and got my boarding pass. After that we headed to security where we said our goodbyes.
The TSA line went pretty quickly and after 20 minutes I was sitting at my gate, listening to music and reading my book to pass the time. After what seemed like a full day we started to board and then just like that we took off to Houston for our connecting flight to Costa Rica. After 3 or so hours we touched down in Houston, and I met up with the rest of the group for our Costa Rica flight. Because it was such a short layover, it seemed like we got to Costa Rica in no time. I sent my mom a text as soon as we landed to let her know I had arrived. We landed in San Jose and stayed the night. The next day, we boarded a bus that took us on a 2-hour drive to the mountains where we were staying with our host families. The town was called Turrialba.
I was in Costa Rica for two weeks; the first couple of days were a little hard for me because I had never been without my mom. On top of that I had to get used to basically having new parents for the next two weeks. However, after the first couple of days, I was completely fine. I was enjoying every moment of the trip and although I did not completely forget about home, I was able to miss it but still enjoy myself thoroughly. I had so much fun and this kick-started my love for travel. I have been to so many countries since that trip and I can now easily deal with the anxiety of leaving home.
My first trip abroad did not necessarily teach me a concrete lesson, but it gave me valuable experience away from home and out of the country. I became much more focused on travel and it helped me face my fears. I have changed so much since that trip; I am far more outgoing and adventurous and those are my favorite qualities about myself. I’m sure most of you remember your first time flying alone, and the nerves that come with it. Whether you have experienced this or not, I am sure we can all recognize the value and independence that is gained from embarking on an adventure alone.
Jonah is a recent USC graduate from Santa Monica, California. He majored in International Relations Global Business with an emphasis in Financial Management at USC. He has always been fascinated by other cultures, languages, and cities. He speaks Mandarin Chinese as well as Spanish and has been to Asia, Europe, and South America. Jonah went to Taiwan last summer and experienced what it was like to be in a one-on-one foreign language interaction. In his free time he enjoys going to the beach, playing baseball and tennis, and going to the gym.