Admittedly, I never know where to start. I want to start with the day I left for Los Angeles, but all I remember is having to repack my suitcase in the Airport because it was too heavy; and staring at my “Forget me not Elephant” that reminds me of my best friend.
That day, July 18, feels like years ago now. I have done more in less than two months than I have in most of my life. Oh no, is this going to be a Coming of Age story? Probably.
The flight was 14 hours, and the only details I remember are that I listened to One Direction and In Stereo on repeat, and a lady fainted on my mum. It was a bit scary really; I was just listening to Perfect 10 by In Stereo when all of a sudden I hear my mum screaming “Help!” repeatedly. I looked over to see this woman lying on top of mum. She was unconscious and I thought for a second that she was dead. Everyone on the plane freaked out, but help came straight away and the lady was revived.
After the flight – Dad, Mum, Emily (my sister) and I all got into a taxi and drove all the way to our hotel, which was on the other side of the city from LAX. I had never felt more energetic in my life, even though I had just been on a stuffy airplane for 14 hours. Sadly while I was in Los Angeles I didn’t bump into Connor Franta, but there’s always next time (whenever that is!) and I was only there for two days so I shouldn’t have been upset when I didn’t see him, even though I was completely convinced I was going to.
Emily, my mum and I spent the whole two days in Macy’s, which made me annoyed because all I wanted to do was explore (and maybe track down Louis Tomlinson) but we were all too jet-lagged to do much.
On the 20th, we flew to Mexico City to see my brother, Peter, and his very-soon-to-be-wife, Janette. Peter lives in Mexico, and it was eye opening to see where he had been living for the past few years. Sadly, I didn’t get to go to the actual wedding because it was a 7-hour drive from Mexico City, but this gave me time to explore Mexico and spend “quality time” with my family before leaving them for five months.
Now for the thing that matters: I ate guacamole for every meal, every day, for 8 days. The avocados in Mexico are a blessing, I would recommend flying to Mexico JUST for the avocados.
But seriously, the food there was amazing and my sister and I became obsessed with a vegetarian restaurant called Yug, and it became a running joke that we would replace every word that started with “Y”, Yug.
“Do Yug want to go to Yug tonight?”
“Yug, of course.”
Departing from Mexico was the most daunting experience of my life. After having trouble with my Visa at the check in, I had to say goodbye to my family. The longest I’ve gone without seeing my parents has probably been a week or two for school camp. Now I’ve gone a month without seeing them, and I still have four more until I’m home.
Dad isn’t a very emotional person, so when I said goodbye to him he just smiled and said he knew I was going to be amazing. But when I got to Mum she started bawling her eyes out and doing everything a mum does – telling me I’ll be fine and not to worry and she’ll miss me. I started crying too, and ensured her I’ll be fine.
After the farewells, my other brother, Brendan, and I went through security and boarded the plane.
We arrived in Munich 10 hours later and went to his house; greeted by his wife and the cutest baby in the world (don’t fight me on this, he is adorable).
I stayed in Munich for a week, and explored a lot of the inner city and the canal near my brother’s house. It wasn’t a very active week, which was nice since I had been on the go for 2 weeks by then.
After that week, I got on a train and travelled by myself to Vienna, undeniably my favourite city that I have been to. I stayed with my mum’s best friend, who has lived there for 25 years, and I went on a music camp called Camp Styria for 10 days. The camp was located in Schladming, which is well known for its skiing mountains. I last went to that camp two years prior, and it was exciting to see my friends again. I also made new friends who had come to the camp from Slovenia. They ended up being in my room, and we got on like a house on fire. I’m grateful the hotel soundproofed the walls or we would have got A LOT of complaints. By the end of the week, both the Slovenian girls knew the lyrics to MYDLM by In Stereo, which made me proud.
Halfway through camp, I became quite unwell and had to go to hospital for three days. Turns out I was just over-exhausted and I took three days off camp. I returned to camp after those three days, and I was actually happy to get back into playing Violin. We had a concert at the end of the 10 days, and I was sad to say goodbye to my new friends since I wouldn’t be seeing them for at least another year.
When I returned to Vienna, I got in touch which one of my closest friends, Kilian, who hadn’t been able to make it to camp this year. We caught up twice before I came back to Germany, and those two days were some of my favourites so far. We went to museums and on rollercoasters and I dragged him along with me to go shopping. We got six scoops of ice cream each and I repeatedly got teased for my accent. Now all I have left is our pictures and the chocolate ice cream I dropped on my pink Dr. martins.
Leaving Vienna, I caught a plane to Cologne by myself, which actually turned out to be fun. Now, I’m lying on a couch in a small town called Titz, back with the cutest baby in the world and listening to German nursery rhymes.
I have changed so much from the girl I was less than two months ago. I have not only matured but I have become more confident and optimistic: I am no longer caught up in the fine print. I see two sides to every story and I don’t worry about what people think of me. I’m proving to myself that I can change, and I can be the person I’ve always wanted to be. I miss Australia but I don’t miss the culture or the problematic society.
Travelling the world makes you notice how different the problems in every country are and how getting caught up in the problems doesn’t help anyone or anything, especially not yourself.
I wish everyone could go on a journey like the one I’m on, but because not everyone can and not everyone wants to, I’m here to share my experience with all of you and teach you what I’ve learned.
Travelling is rough at the start, but you soon find beauty around every corner and never want your journey to end.
I’m so thankful for the people who surround me and support me. Without them, I never would have been able to travel. This whole experience is only happening because of people who care about me, and I’ll never be able to repay them for changing my life in so many ways.
And you know what?
I couldn’t be happier.
Written by Arianna O’Donnell