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18 sometimes seems too young to just get up and move away, especially to a third world country. Experiencing culture shock for the first time, teaching, the best roomie ever, and one crazy spoiled brat, the old me was gone! Yet if I didn't take this opportunity, I know I wouldn't be as successful as I am today.
18 years old and fresh out of high school, I was cocky and of course, thought I knew everything. I craved freedom—freedom from my parents, friends, work, and just life. I decided that I wanted to become a teacher but I also didn't feel the need to go to university right away. I craved travel and new sights.
I applied to a volunteering organization that was catered to young adults, mainly high school grads. I narrowed down my choices between teaching in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. I had my heart set on Fiji, but during the interview process, the option of teaching in Africa was brought up. Right then and there I knew that was where I needed to go. I had a new dream and set out to get everything arranged for it.
After interviews upon interviews, orientations, and briefings, my flights were finally booked! I had met a girl at orientation and thought we hit it off really well. Let’s call her Sally. We booked a tour together for when our five-month teaching stint was up. Side note, get to know someone for more than one day before booking a two-week safari with them. Sally seemed like the kind of girl I wanted to be friends with, but when she came to my town to shop for the things we needed for Africa, I saw a new side to her. She told me stories about when she was in school about how she threw water balloons at girls just because they talked to her boyfriend. She also egged them. My first thought was, “oh god, don’t do anything to get on her bad side...” After that, whenever we saw each other, I felt like I was walking on eggshells.
The night before my flight, I stuffed my 175-litre hiking backpack to the brim. I’m talking zippers were about to explode it was so full. Six months worth of stuff somehow managed to fit. After packing, I obviously partied the night away with my friends! They threw a very boozy farewell party for me. I partied so hard I could hardly move the next morning. Definitely puked, a lot. My parents drove me to the ferries and I was passed out in the back seat I was so sick. My mom thought I wouldn’t be allowed to board the plane. But I managed to pull it together once I got some serious carbs in me. That morning was a gong show! I had to get extra passport photos done, drive to my moms' office twice because I forgot my passport! All the last minute things I totally forgot about. I was a mess!
Two flights and 16 hours later, I took my first steps on African soil! Those first steps off the plane were surreal. I just remember everything looking orange, the air was thick with humidity and the heat! I was sticky and sweaty instantly. We managed to find other volunteers on our flight, so I wasn’t as stressed about getting lost as if I was on my own. The airport was hectic! We couldn’t find our volunteer host right away, people were trying to sway us into going with their cab company, a whole other language was being yelled at us. Hectic. Once we got on the bus and situated another volunteer noticed they forgot a girl. So thankful that wasn’t me. It was dark out by the time we got to our homestay. Homesickness was starting to creep its way into my mind. Stay tuned for more adventures with crazy volunteers. This is just the beginning.