I’m Adventurous? Learning About Oneself Through Study Abroad

By Jessica Burkard — Suddenly, I was nervous…frozen momentarily in fact.

I tried not to look down…but I couldn’t help it.

“Oh my god…” I thought.

I took a deep breath as the two men on each side of me started counting down from 5.

“4…3…2…”

I looked forward and jumped, free falling for approximately 5 seconds, until the bungee cord caught me, and then swung me like a pendulum. When I finally stopped bobbing up and down, I finally realized that I could see again—everything had been so fast that my eyes didn’t process half of everything until I was just hanging there in silence. A minute and a half is by no means long, but that my friends was the longest 90 seconds of my life. To be quite honest, I don’t know how I wasn’t panicking more as a person who has always feared heights.

“Hey, how was your jump?” said a calm voice. I looked up and there was the guy working on adjusting my ropes and bringing me into a sitting position to pull me up. I had so much adrenaline coursing through my veins that I remember being shocked at how calm and collected he was when I just came off of jumping off of the highest bungee point in the world!

Bungee jumping was one of the highlights of my life.

Fast-forward to about a week ago. I was Skyping with a good friend of mine from home and telling her all about the things I have been up to here in South Africa. As I began telling her about everything, I expected an “Oh, how cool!” or “What was that like?” type of reaction.

Instead, she replied, “Oh my god, Jess, you’re so adventurous!” And I thought, “I’m adventurous??” Honestly, the thought had never really occurred to me!  Sure, I thought at the time of each specific adventure I was crazy… but never adventurous!

So, other than bungee jumping, my “adventurous” self has also gone shark cage diving, cruised around on a sunset safari, and hiked a mountain barefoot using ladders and chains. Looking at that now and this study abroad experience as a whole, I guess I should start thinking of myself as adventurous.

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