Natalie Ambrosio '17 | August 4, 2018
The heavy mist turned into rain, shrouding South Australia’s coast. I stood on the beach, looking back at the sleepy beach town of Glenelg disappearing in the dusk. As I soaked in that final evening of my week of solo travel, I realized that I’d spent hours of my life on beaches — but had never been on a beach by myself.
Nor had I ever spent time alone atop a mountain or in the dead of a forest.
I like adventure — but in an organized, buddy-system way. Plans make me comfortable; spontaneity takes an ironic amount of effort. I manage an armload of responsibilities. I meet my obligations daily and check off goals as they’re completed. So when I set off for my study break from the University of Western Australia in Perth, I knew I was about to veer onto an unfamiliar frontage road, a different pattern of life. I had only booked a hostel for my first two nights, restraining my apprehension at not knowing where I’d be in three days and trying to embrace a real sense of adventure.
This was not a moment for absentmindedly looking out the bus window or chatting cheerfully with companions through the streets of South Australia’s capital. Instead, I boarded a bus at Adelaide Airport and confirmed with the driver that he’d stop where I needed and then I focused on reading street signs so I wouldn’t miss my stop. As I prepared to disembark, hoping I’d observed correctly, a middle-aged man affirmed that this was my stop. We got off together and I soon discovered that he was staying in the same hostel as me. I’d chosen well, he proclaimed. He always stays there when he comes to Adelaide to visit his daughter. I breathed a sigh of relief as we walked to the hostel together, chatting the whole way.
I’m not often keen to strike up conversations with strangers and I kept my guard up, but I knew I needed a healthy openness to enjoy my trip. Learning to say yes to kindness, I reminded myself, is just as valuable as learning to say no to reasonable threats.
Read more here.