My First Time Abroad

I’m sure most of us remember the first time we traveled abroad. The idea of traveling to another country was probably exciting. Perhaps you were very young so you felt a little apprehensive not knowing what to expect during your first time abroad; feeling butterflies in your stomach, anticipation, and even exhilaration. No matter your age, the first time we visit another country is such a hallmark moment and something we never forget.

My First Time Abroad

As for me, the first time I went abroad was when I was 14 years old. I didn’t really have a choice at that age and my father had just received his Green Card from the US government. As a result, my parents decided it was high time we, the children, meet our relatives still living in Mexico. We drove from our home in Four Oaks, North Carolina to Monterrey, Mexico, a 1,744 mile trip, which took us about three days to complete.

My First Time Abroad Road Trip Map. My Normal Gay Life Blog. Gay Travel

Highlights Of The Trip

I was 14 years old so it’s not like I could go off an explore on my own. My dad wasn’t one for veering off our course so we didn’t get to go see any of the amazing things you might encounter during a road trip. Being the strict taskmaster that he is, we remained focused on getting to our destination.

Nevertheless, from window of the car, I did see the awesome landscape changes and awesome cityscapes. One of my favorite moments was when we crossed the US/Mexico border. I felt so thrilled knowing we, literally, crossed over a line and were now in a different country. Driving through Nuevo Laredo on our way to my family’s city was such a surreal experience for me. It looked dirty at the border and just different. I remember a Dido song was playing on the radio as we made our way through the desert. When we finally arrived to the city of Monterrey, I was just blown away. Everything was in Spanish and it was just something I never even really imagined. Sometimes we have those experiences that really change things for us and this was one of those for me.

My First Time Abroad. My Normal Gay Life. Gay Travel
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The Twist

My parents original plan was that we visit for about two weeks. The trip ended up lasting for about a month. I suppose my father hadn’t seen his family in over 20 years so he wanted to make it last. It was an awesome stay filled with plenty of happy moments. In fact, it’s probably one of the happiest moments of my childhood. I didn’t feel alone anymore.

When it was time to leave, I decided I needed to stay behind. I was 14 years old and had my mind very made up. After spending a month in Mexico with family who treated me with respect and were so kind, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to get to know them better. I’m also a very spiritual person and that age I felt there was an invisible hand pushing me to say. It was the first time I felt that hand but it wouldn’t be the last.

Anyway…I went to my mother and father and told them I wanted to remain in Mexico. My mom was resistant at first. She was set on taking me home. But she and my father eventually agreed that I could remain in Mexico living with my uncle and aunt.

I remember watching my family drive away and feeling completely alone. It took everything inside of me not to run after them and hop in the van. When you think about it, it is rather crazy. My first time abroad at such a young age and I convince my parents to leave me in Mexico. Granted…I did not want to return and be in the abusive situation caused my father but, still, it was quite an unexpected life change.

I ended up living there for one year and learned so much about the world and life. I gained a strong independent streak and I think that is when my thirst for travel was born.

Now, I know that most people might not have a first time travel experience like my own story but I do know no one forgets the first time. The year I spent living in Mexico was incredible and I learned so much. There were definitely some incredible highs and some terribly low lows!

Granted, I was very young so I did not really plan too much out. Circumstances and motives were a little different. But I will never forget that year of my life. My first time abroad turned into a year long exploration of the world, myself, and more. I made friends with whom I have no contact anymore and I got to know my family with whom I am still in contact.

I’d love to hear about your first time abroad!

J Harvey

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My First Time Abroad. My Normal Gay Life Blog. Gay Travel

J. Harvey

J Harvey is a travel writer based in North Carolina. With two masters degrees, he decided to forget working a normal 9-5 job and instead create a travel blog focusing on travel for a more inclusive community. He hopes to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry while inspiring others to travel in whatever capacity.

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