As much as I’m looking forward to the next five months, there will also be things I’ll miss about home along the way. Ironically, it will probably only take me a couple weeks to adjust to life on the road and forget all about this stuff (well, everything except the part about not being able to drink the water). So, here’s the ten things I’ll miss most over the next five months (or couple weeks):
1. Being able to drink the water. This one goes further than simply needing to brush your teeth with bottled water and keeping your mouth closed in the shower. Want a salad for dinner? Sorry, the veggies are washed in the icky water. Feel like having a mixed drink at the bar? Sorry, but no ice cubes (frozen icky water) means room temperature rum and Coke. Of course, no matter how careful you are, at some point you’re going to get a case of the shits. Guess I’ll just have an Immodium AD with that warm rum and Coke – my excitement is boiling over at the prospect.
2. Having peace of mind. Having peace of mind generally comes from feeling safe, secure, and being in a familiar environment. Compare that to the next five months of my life when everything will be new and unfamiliar all the time. As I much as I try to blend in, I’ll still stick out like a sore thumb amongst the masses (5’11’’ white dudes with light hair tend to have an inherent disadvantage when playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ in Africa and Asia). This trip will be an exciting and awesome experience, but there will be times when I’ll miss being able to blend in with the crowd.
3. Being able to communicate. While picking up a new language may be something I’m looking forward to, there will be several moments along the way when I’m not going to have a clue as to what’s going on around me. You can gesture, point, and be as spastic as Richard Simmons, but nothing can get a point across like conversing in your native tongue (even if you walk away with a great story after pulling the Richard Simmons thing).
4. Privacy. I know I’ve mentioned previously that when living with parents, someone is always around, but at least I still have my room to retreat to when I require a moment all to myself. Between all of the hostels and dorms I’ll be staying in, I won’t have that option during most stops on this trip. I’ll apologize in advance for snoring, but that’s small potatoes compared to what other people have experienced (if anyone tries to have sex while I’m sleeping in the next bed over, I’m not going to be very happy).
5. Being able to drive. While I love mass transit, cars are part of the American identity. Outside of walking everywhere, relying on mass transit means you can only go where a train or bus goes at specified times. Or, you’re stuck taking a cab (which I always hate doing in foreign countries because of the language barrier – I never know where I’m going to end up until I arrive). I’m sure there will be many moments when I long for the chance to hop in a car rather than waiting in line at the bus stop.
6. Autumn. Fall is by far my favorite season, and what’s not there to like? The leaves change colors and show their fiery inner beauty. The air cools and turns nice and crisp (perfect for those of us who love our hoodies and knit hats). There’s Halloween and Thanksgiving to celebrate. The World Series brings an end to the baseball season, while basketball and hockey kick off the start to their’s. And, most importantly, it’s football season (American football, not soccer) which means Saturdays and Sundays consumed with tailgates and trips to local watering holes to watch the games with hundreds of your closest friends. While I’ll be back in time for Thanksgiving and the end of football season, autumn will be in its twilight – ready to give way to the chill of winter. Of course, I’ll be chilling on the beach in Rio, so I won’t be complaining too much.
7. Keeping up with current events. It may be the age of the internet and mobile phones, but there’s a little thing called the time change that still makes it difficult to stay current and in touch with everything going on back home. Plus, it’s not like I’ll be sitting in an office or at home with a computer in front of me all day. So, please forgive if I somehow miss that the Jersey Shore cast was in another bar fight and Snooki has nude photos circulating on the internet (on second thought, maybe being removed from American pop culture won’t be so bad after all).
8. American sports. Soccer may be the world’s favorite sport, but outside of the World Cup I don’t really pay attention to it. Basketball is the only American sport that has a truly global reach, but I’m a much bigger fan of the college game than the pros. Baseball or American football? Have fun finding someone able to strike up an in-depth conversation about either one (other than the inevitable banter about which sport is really football). Even if I can find a place showing American sports on TV, they’ll be on at odd hours due to that time change thing I mentioned earlier. Oh well, maybe I’ll finally learn the rules of cricket (then again, it’s only five months).
9. Having access to my full wardrobe. I know – I sound like a girl with this one, but hear me out. My plan is to only take two weeks of clothes with me. Which means I have to go five months with the same clothes, no matter what the weather is like outside. All I’m saying is that it would be nice to have access to cold weather clothes and rain gear when I need it.
10. Easy access to a washer and dryer. One of the more common questions I receive is how will I do laundry? The choices will be limited. I’ll either need to wait in line to use a washer and dryer at a hostel, find a Laundromat, pay through the nose for a hotel to take care of it, or use the bathroom sink (does it really matter if I use the sink to wash my boxers if I can’t drink the water anyway?). It’ll be nice to throw everything in the washer and dryer when I get home and forget about it.