I am about to get a bit sentimental, but seeing as it is hardly a day before my wedding I’d say I am entitled to a little bit of sentiment.
Studying abroad changed my life. When I returned from that adventure, I couldn’t wait to see what else was out there. That summer after, I started planning out my life, and I had it pinned down pretty well. I would spend the fall semester of my senior year taking an extra heavy courseload in an effort to make the following semester- my final semester of college- easy and breezy and fun. During that final semester, I would apply for the Disney College Program. After graduation, I would enjoy a fun filled summer before setting off for a few months in Florida, where I would learn the ins and outs and behind the scenes secrets of my favorite place on earth. Then, I would go to Asia. A girl I knew from school who was a few years ahead of me was in Beijing teaching English, and she told me wonderful stories about all the amazing places she visited on her long weekends and often said I would be a great candidate for her program. Once I finished with that commitment, I would return back to my parents’ house and see which way the wind took me.
It was perfect. Flawless. It would be everything I had dreamed of. That fall semester I worked my butt off, taking an extra class, working hours of practicum, and writing my 30+ page capstone paper. I pinched my pennies and budgeted wisely, keeping in mind all the various fees and flight prices that my plan called for. All was going according to the schedule. But during winter break, something happened. It is the oldest excuse in the book, the most clichéd story of all time.
I fell in love.
Between Christmas and New Years, I attended the Alpha Phi Omega National Convention in Atlanta, GA. APO is a co-ed community service fraternity based around the principles of leadership, friendship, and service. It took center stage for a lot of my favorite college memories and my “brothers” and I were excited to attend our third convention. The last thing I expected to do there was to meet my husband, but that’s what I did.
A few months into that spring semester I realized my Disney College Program paperwork was due soon, and suddenly I had cold feet. Florida? And then Asia? One voice in my head was saying, how can you leave this guy now? You just found him! And another voice was saying, you’ve only known this guy a few months! Don’t let him ruin your plans.
Ultimately, I didn’t apply for either program. I realized that my life was different now, my priorities had changed, and that didn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. We had already talked extensively about travel and how much it meant to both of us- I had my European semester behind me while he had tons of roadtrips across the continent, from Canada to Mexico and all the way to Alaska. Traveling with him, I realized, would be significantly more wonderful than traveling alone- no matter where we were going.
The first place we went was the Adirondacks, about five months after we started dating. We revisited again about three months after that. Throughout the first twenty months of our relationship we went on many camping and hiking weekends, all leading up to our first real trip together- Florida. In addition to the four Disney parks and Downtown Disney (now known as Disney Springs), we visited Kennedy Space Center and Gatorland with a swampy airboat ride in between.
As we held hands and walked down Main Street toward a fairytale castle, as we each bit off an ear of the same Mickey shaped ice cream bar, and as we browsed through the Magic Kingdom Jewelry shop, I realized I didn’t want to work at this magical place after all. I wanted to giggle and grin as my boyfriend chose a stunning necklace, featuring a heart outlining a pearl Mickey Mouse head, to buy for me.
In the time since then we have visited seven different countries together- we watched the Eiffel Tower light show in France, enjoyed a glass of wine with a view of the Ponte Vecchio in Italy, took selfies with Big Ben in England, listened to a classical music concert in Austria, toured a castle fit for a mad king in Germany, paraglided over the Alps in Switzerland, and swam through the crystal clear waterfalls of Jamaica. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to stay close to him.
Less than 24 hours from now, I’ll be his wife. The day after our wedding, we are jetting off to Australia and then New Zealand, arriving home just in time for our first Christmas as a married couple.
I had a teacher in high school who always used to say, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” It couldn’t be more true. There I was, making grand plans for my future, not even looking for Prince Charming, when he walked right into my life. And how lucky am I that my passion for travel is one that we actually share?
So farewell for now, friends! I plan to shift all of my focus to living in the moment and enjoying every last second of my wedding and honeymoon, so I most likely won’t post very much (if at all) until I return right around Christmas. If you want to follow me through my honeymoon, feel free to find me on Instagram @Emelye_Kay 🙂
See everyone on the flip side!