Normally at this time of year I’d be just getting back into the rhythm of school, reuniting with friends, buying books, trying to get used to doing homework and taking notes again. For 17 or 18 years this has been my life routine, so I’d say this fall is a bit of a change. However, it seems breaking my years into summers and semesters is a habit I can’t bring myself to break quite yet, and so I find myself preparing for a new kind of test. I spent my time in school learning about our planet through maps and textbooks, but I always found that I learned more when I was out there in the world, experiencing it myself.

In just a few days I will leave Ohio (finally!) and fly to Buenos Aires. I feel like this day has been coming for a very long time, but I’m not quite ready for it. In reality, I’ve been talking about a post-graduate trip through South America since sophomore year, but if you’d asked me six months ago if I’d be preparing to leave right now, I would have probably been pretty doubtful. I was sure I was going to get some boring (or if I was lucky, semi-interesting) office job, working for at least six months or a year to save up for my next adventure. Well, look at me! I traded all that for a frugal summer at home in Ohio, picked an arbitrary date of departure, and here I am!

It’s been over a year since I’ve been out of the country — my longest streak in over five years! — and I’m ready to get lost in the world again. Of course I’m nervous. This will be a very different trip from my other travels, even my other solo ventures, and it will certainly come with many ups and downs, challenges and excitements. I look forward to them all, and I hope that this journey will spit me out at the end a more improved and enlightened version of myself — if nothing else, a better-traveled one!