In the fall of 2007, I embarked on my first year of graduate school in Xalapa, Mexico. I was both excited and nervous because I didn’t know a soul in Mexico. After getting settled in, there was one girl in particular who I immediately connected with. Her name was Melanie. She was from London so if nothing else, I loved listening to her British accent. The icing on the cake was when we discovered we both liked to sing. Although Melanie was only in Mexico for a semester, our friendship blossomed. As luck would have it, my roommate and I ended up moving in the apartment next door to where Melanie was living. Some of my fondest memories of Melanie are when she and I would sing duets at El Muro, which is a small cafe/lounge in Xalapa. Initially Melanie started singing at El Muro with a local band and she would often invite me to sing alongside her (Check out the video below). I also enjoyed our movie nights when she came over and made stove-top popcorn.
I invited Melanie, and another friend Sian, to spend Thanksgiving with my family and I in Chicago and I loved every minute of it. Thanksgiving is an American holiday so it was nice to share one of my cultural traditions with them. It was also their first time in Chicago so I introduced them to all of the Chicago staples like Giordano’s pizza and Garrett’s popcorn. It was definitely a Thanksgiving to remember.
In 2009, my brother and I got the chance to visit Melanie and Sian in England which was exciting because I was able to see where they grew up and what life is like in the U.K. I enjoyed getting to know both Melanie and Sian’s families and exploring their hometowns. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Melanie since then. :(. Melanie visited the states a few years ago but at the time, I was living in Eastern Europe so I missed out on seeing her.
It’s hard to believe 6 years have passed but I’m sure when I see Melanie, we’ll pick up where we left off. Melanie and I may not talk everyday or even every month but she is someone who I feel so blessed and honored to call my friend. I’m so proud of all the success she’s obtained with her singing career in Argentina. I admire her dedication and tenacity to truly pursue her musical career. I admit I’ve allowed rejection to hinder my pursuit of a career in music so I live vicariously through Melanie , which is more than enough.
I admit often times I have selfish motives to travel just to be able to say I’ve visited x amount of countries. What has left a more lasting impression on me than any number of passport stamps could offer are the remarkable people who I’ve come to call friends. Melanie might not be at my wedding one day because of the distance that separates us but that doesn’t negate the place she has in my heart. Traveling abroad has numerous perks and the biggest one is finding lasting friendships with people who you may have never crossed paths with otherwise. In less than two weeks, I’ll be heading to Buenos Aires. I couldn’t be more excited. If I hadn’t taken any of the other trips I took this year, my trip to Argentina would be enough.
Plane ticket $786, Reciprocity Fee $160, Flight to Iguazu Falls $409, Being reunited with Melanie after 6 years, priceless.
I just want to encourage you all to step outside of your comfort zone and go somewhere new, somewhere far, anywhere. You never know who you might meet. Is there someone you’ve met on a trip that changed your life? How do you maintain contact with friends who live far away, perhaps in a different time zone or country?
“The friends we meet on the path of life make the trip worth while”- Author Unknown