Life is full of firsts–first steps, first day of school, first wish, first date. The list is endless, but there always seems to be a time when our lives become somewhat repetitive. I, myself, was a victim of this. I had become so accustomed to how I lived my daily life that I stopped growing. I always retreated to the same places to eat with my friends and even ordered the same food. My style of clothing never changed. My daily schedule always remained the same. I became so attached to my comfort zone–my usual way of doing things that I forgot the breath of fresh air that comes from discovering something new. I forgot the feeling of accomplishment after successfully doing something for the first time, and I forgot the feeling of my brain being stimulated after learning from my mistakes, but I have begun to break out of my bubble. I discovered that the best way to live is by viewing life as a spontaneous adventure. This year, I am challenging myself to say “yes” to things I would normally resist and do things I would normally refute. Here are just some of the things I have done for the first time since starting my bridge year journey. Some are amazing, some are great learning experiences, and some are just plain weird memories.
1. First time visiting the Golden Gate Bridge.
2. First time camping in the California Redwoods.
3. First time living and taking workshop classes at Stanford University. I learned so much about international development, global citizenship, and entrepreneurial thinking!
4. First time having my own soccer ball. At Stanford, we were each given a special One World Fútbol, a ball that is virtually indestructible so kids around the world from low-income communities can have a greater opportunity to play soccer. I cannot wait to use it when I move to my regional community!
5. First time meeting Global Citizen Year founder Abby Falik after reading so much about her. I was so starstruck!
6. First time traveling to South America.
7. First time being a flight attendant on a plane. (Yes! I actually did get to serve the drinks!)
8. First time on a double-decker bus during a night time tour of Quito.
9. First time paying $0.15 to use the bathroom.
10. First time living with a family away from home. These views of Quito are simply stunning.
11. First time living, breathing, and speaking Spanish all the time.
12. First time living at the base of an active volcano.
13. First time not feeling safe in the city I live in. Pickpocketers are everywhere here!
14. First time drinking jugo de tomate de árbol (tree tomato juice). The tree tomato is different than our tomatoes in the United States.
15. First time having Quinoa soup with practically every meal.
16. First time navigating the streets of Quito on my own to and from school. My school is about a 25 minute walk from my house. The cars here do not stop. There are no signals for when pedestrians can cross. Everyday is risky.
17. First time taking a Spanish and Kichwa training class from a teacher that doesn’t know any English, not even our names.
18. First time getting around solely by public transportation. I once took a bus for 30 minutes to find out that it made a huge loop and I ended up where I initially started.
19. First time taking a taxi by myself.
20. First time at a United States embassy abroad.
21. First time I’ve been such an emotional person. This has been the hardest journey of my life thus far, but I have faith that it will be the most transformative.