Wanderlust

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

I am among those who believe that traveling is one of the few necessities of life. My passion for traveling is perhaps almost as deep as my passion for good food. I enjoy traveling alone as much as I do with others. Still there is something to be said for wandering through a foreign city alone. I’ve learned the most about myself on those occasions, and I am all the better for having done it. For those of you who are consumed by wanderlust, but haven’t yet gathered the courage to travel to one of those far-off places you’ve been longing to explore, I am hopeful that my own travel stories might inspire you to take the first step.

My Argentinian Experience: Part 1

Screen shot 2015-07-13 at 11.37.29 AM

My first trip abroad was in high school. At 16 years old, I applied for a summer program through the University of Dallas to study Shakespeare in Italy. During the program, I visited Rome, Venice, and Bologna. By the end of my trip, I was enamored with all three cities and with Europe in general. Needless to say, from the moment I left, I dreamt of going back. I knew that when the next opportunity to travel abroad presented itself, I would grab it by the horns. During my sophomore year at Yale, one such opportunity did arise and it proved to be one of those rare special experiences that seemed to change my life forever. Funded by a summer scholarship, I embarked on a two-month journey to Argentina with the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Program.

I had been eagerly anticipating the trip from the moment I was accepted to the program. However, when I arrived at the airport in Buenos Aires, I quickly began to develop second thoughts about my decision. As I walked through the airport, I saw and felt the intense stares that seemed to shoot at me from every angle. As the stares grew, my enthusiasm and self-confidence shook. In those moments, more than ever before, I became conscious of my blackness. I searched for someone who looked like me, whose skin bore some semblance of the same mahogany brown tones in order to convince myself that I was just being paranoid. As I strained my eyes, a little child passing by looked at me with a startled expression and signaled to the woman holding his hand. At this point, it took everything in me to prevent my tear ducts from spilling over with a thousand single teardrops that would instantly expose all of my feelings of weakness and vulnerability to everyone intently looking at me.

By the time I was able to locate the Harvard group, I had seriously contemplated no less than a dozen times the possibility of obtaining a flight to return to the USA that same day. However, when I surveyed the group—to my pleasant surprise—I noticed that there were three other black girls in the program. Almost immediately, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I didn’t know any of the girls personally, but I already felt connected through my earlier experience. I convinced myself that if I stayed, I wouldn’t be alone in navigating the unwelcome stares and challenges of living as a young black woman abroad.