9000 km Away from Home

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2007, August 16. – Outside of Ordinary

It was late afternoon and as I walked outside of the airport, I felt like I stepped inside of a sauna. Ewww what on earth?! I yelled out loud (in Hungarian) and as I looked at my friend I saw the same expression on her face too. We have never experienced such heat before and even though we knew it was going to be warm in Phoenix, actually feeling it on our skin left us both in shock.

– We are almost there, she said…and then added in a very sarcastic and disappointed voice: ONLY 2 more hours. Which seems like nothing, but at that point seemed like forever after the past 19 hours we have spent traveling. I guess 2 hours can seem like forever too.

– I am nervous! – I said as we were slowly dragging ourselves towards our (about) 30 passenger flight outside on the runway.
– Nervous about flying with that thing or nervous about our new life?
– I guess both. But if this plane doesn’t make it, at least I don’t have to be nervous about the rest.
– Staying positive, I like it – she added.

And as we were walking up on the narrow steps to go inside the tiniest plane I have ever seen, I started laughing:

– Oh man, what have we done?!

2007. August 15. (The day before) –  My ordinary

After waking up I was laying in bed quietly, trying to memorize every detail of my room. I was staring at my pictures, my posters, the books on my shelves, that couple years old rose that was hanging on the side of my shelf, and even the little spider web that has been in the upper right corner of my room for so long. It was out of reach completely plus lately I have felt very generous, so I never got rid of the little guy. I thought it would be bad luck. He was at a far enough distance and we just lived next to each other in peace. I kind of liked him at the end.

I grew up in this room, well kind of. I lived in this room in the past 6 years. This was my home, my life. Outside of this room was the house that my parents built. Outside of that house was the town I have been living in for 10 years. There lived all my friends who I grew up with. That was my everything. Everything I had in the past 19 years. Everything I knew. But this will change tomorrow I thought. I am about to fly 9000 km away without my family, to a place where I have never been to, to speak a language that I barely speak, to live in a dorm room with a stranger. Go me! And as I was mentally digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole, my mom came in running into my room, screaming of joy and jumped in bed with me.

– Good Morning my big, smart, beautiful traveler! – she said
– Gooood Morning moooom! – I said it while rolling my eyes (I do that sometimes)
– Are you ready for your hot chocolate? – she said it with a huge smile
– Always! – I said with a forced/fake smile as I was sitting up in bed

A tradition in our family. Mostly on the weekends but all four of us had hot chocolate/coffee in bed together in the morning. My parents made the hot chocolate/coffee with whipped cream while my sister and I crawled under their covers. They came back with the drinks and we all sat in bed and talked while sipping on a delicious warm drink. Those were the days.

– What if I don’t go? – I said
– Well then you will throw away everything you have been working towards in the past 12 years. – came the reply from my mom way too fast
– If you put it that way…- I mumbled under my breath while zoning out on the whipped cream melting into my hot chocolate.

I know it hurt her too. She is my best friend and I never spent more than 3 days away from her. And now I was going to leave for 4 months to only come back for 4 weeks and then leave again for another 6 months. But we both agreed this is for the best and I really wanted to do this. I just wasn’t sure about it anymore when it was actually time to do it.

2007. August – Present Time

As we approached the Flagstaff airport in the air, I pressed my forehead against the tiny window and looked down. I stared at the blinking city lights and the uncertainty that was awaiting us. The city and the climate was new, the cars were different, the people were strange, the food was going to be something we were not used to. Not to mention the empty dorm rooms and plain white walls and the emptiness and dullness they represented. Even the air felt new. Because of the elevation, we were gasping for air for days.

We were standing on the curb with our two luggages in front of the tiny Flagstaff airport, waiting for our cab, exhausted and tired; we didn’t know what to expect next.

Suddenly a cab pulled up and a guy hopped out of it with a huge smile on his face, greeting us warmly:

– Hi Guys!!!! How are you doing on this beautiful night?

And as he grabbed our luggage to put them in the car, my friend and I looked at each other and although we knew it was going to be hard to adjust, we knew we were going to be just fine because we had each other.

25 COMMENTS

  1. It must have been so hard to leave home! What’s the story behind the story? Were you off on an exchange program?

    • Hi Flo! Thank you for your comment! I received a tennis scholarship to a university in the States for 4 years and thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was very hard to leave home but the decision came with a lot of new friendships, the world opened up, I learned a new language and a grew as a person a lot. So it was all worth it. It is so true that growing starts outside of our comfort zone 🙂

  2. I love this! Setting off on a new adventure can seem absolutely terrifying at first. Can’t wait to read more about your experience in the States.

    • Thank you John, yes it was so terrifying but at the end, looking back it was all worth it. The first step is the hardest and once the decision is made, everything is easier.

  3. Great story. I remember when I was leaving my house about 8 years ago as well. Its hard but the excitement for new adventure always win 🙂 I cant wait to read the rest of the story 🙂

  4. Being away from home can be so nervewrecking! But it sounds like you took it like a champ. Is this a permanent move?

    • Hi Ivy! It is very nerve-wracking sometimes but I would do it again, in a heartbeat. I came here for 4 years originally but then I met my now husband here so it became pretty permanent…but who knows what the future brings and where we will end up living.

  5. Great story and insight for what you were going through. I have friends that have thought similarly going to another place for a long period of time. There’s always a bit of that homesickness but a new place also brings new relationships and adventures and is worth it in the end. Good luck with your tennis scholarship!

    • Thank you Ling! It is very true. I met so many great people and experienced so much more. The world opened up and I believe it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

  6. I left home too when I was 17 to go to university and it was too difficult initially and I know how you must have felt. I am one of a twin and I don’t know what I would have done if she was not there with me back then. But it definitely made me more confident and independent. Change is a part of life.

    • Oh wow. 17 is so young! All my respect. It is great when someone is there for you or with you. I was very lucky to have my friend as well. I am not sure I would have had the courage to do this by myself. Change is part of life and that what makes it so beautiful.

  7. Wow! It is quite difficult leave home and for days you pine to go back. It is easier to handle this with a friend nearby . But eventually you live your life the way you want.

  8. I had a similar journey in my early twenties. Over the years I realized how lucky I am to have all these friends I found on the way. It’s a culture shock in a good way. I wish you the best for this journey!!

  9. It’s so good to read about our adventure my Friend!! It was very difficult at the beginning but look where we are now and all the things what we experienced over the years… I would totally do it again. I’m very thankful for your friendship and can’t wait to read more of your stories!!

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