5 hours to lift-off


True to form, I’ve procrastinated doing this first blog post until just about the last second I could. We’re leaving for country, which is Brazil for me, in just under five hours, and not only are my clothes still in a messy pile on the floor, my mind’s pretty all over the place too.

Nervousness. Excitement. Fear. A touch of nauseousness I’d rather not admit to.

All of the things that generally accompany a major life change, just at high speeds, in a foreign country, and in a language I don’t speak.

Travel and being away from home are nothing new to me. I left my country, Ireland, at the age of 16 to attend two years of an international high school in Canada, and two years of the rigorous and painful academic program known as the IB, or International Baccalaureate. One of those things was miserable and cost me a lot of sleep (spoiler alert, it was the academics) but the other, well. To say it was a formative, life-changing and incomparable experience would be a great injustice and a horrific understatement.

There are no words to describe everything Pearson College, UWC, was and continues to be for me- apart from making discussions with friends and family back home a touch awkward, I see this inability to explain something I’ve lived as an indicator of how total it is. For two years, Pearson was where I slept, studied, ate, loved, laughed and cried. To express that in words and conversations that don’t last forever is a skill I’ve yet to acquire.

If nothing else, I hope I leave Brazil in seven months from now with that same inability. I hope that it is too much to explain, that all I’ll have are snippets and memories rather than overarching morals or a clean-cut beginning, middle, and end. Life isn’t like that, so I see no reason for a year of mine to be. It will be messy, and painful, and hilarious, and I can only go into this next year willing and open to change and with the intention of being as true to the myself I want to be as possible.

All that aside, it is a strange feeling, to be hoping for the future to hurt. But that is what I find myself doing when I try and see into the nebulous future of April, 2020, as I leave Brazil and my host family and my co-workers and friends. I desperately hope that it hurts. That it means enough to me to hurt when it is gone.

So yes, I procrastinated writing this, partly because that’s just what I do, as my co-years from Pearson can attest; partly because for most of this week as we met as a cohort and had countless wonderful activities and speakers it still felt in some way too good to be true; and partly because I genuinely didn’t know what to say.

I haven’t kept a diary in… a very long time. I’m hoping (and I seem to be using that word a lot) that I can be truer to this blog, and the intention that I have to keep it up, than many other abandoned projects and journals that litter my childhood and adolescence.

I didn’t know what I wanted to say, and, to be honest, I’m still not sure this is it. But, at ten o’clock the night before leaving for my next big adventure halfway across the world from everything I grew up knowing, I don’t exactly have the luxury of re-writing.

So there you have it. My name is Toraí. I’m 18 years old. I’m Irish, and a UWC alum. I have the enormous privilege and good fortune to be doing a bridge year in Brazil.

And I’m terrified.

But I’m also really, really excited.

And that more than makes up for it.