Gap Year: First Day

The first day of anything is normally a source of anxiety. Take school for example. I remember thinking it was a good idea on my first day to befriend the tubby ginger kid. Being nerdy and Asian at this age meant together we didn’t really stand much of a chance (we’re still friends to this day and he’s now stacked like a gorilla so it’s all good).

The first day of your Gap Year is always going to be a strange mix of emotions. You’ve jumped on a plane to the other side of the world. You’ve just said goodbye to everyone and everything back home and you won’t see it again for a year. A year! It’s a long time when you think about it. You’ve done all your preparation, seen everyone else’s amazing photos and can’t wait to create your own.

The first stop on my Gap Year was Thailand. I got through customs with no bother and jumped in a taxi. Destination? Khao San Road. I can remember the moment clearly. I jump out, drag my backpack out the boot and just stare down the long busy mess that is the Khao San Road. I remember thinking this is where the adventure begins!

If I’m honest my first day wasn’t what I expected. I was jetlagged, restless and feeling sick and hungry at the same time. It was the afternoon and I hadn’t adjusted to the heat and humidity so ended up having a nap with my air-conditioning turned up full in my private room… zzz… Next thing I know it’s the evening and my stomach is growling overpowering my sense of nausea.

I’m a sociable guy and don’t find it hard talking to new people but for some reason everyone I struck up a conversation with just didn’t speak good English or was waiting for a pick up to the airport. It actually had me worried. I was doing a solo round the world trip for a year. Is this what the rest of my trip is going to be like?

I ended up giving in and heading up and down the Khao San Road in the search for food. My senses became bombarded with sights and smells of the busy street. I quickly learn to walk with purpose otherwise you will be jostled or get hassled by the street sellers. Ping pong show? Fish massage? Tailored suits? This place is crazy!

I walk past several restaurants and I just feel like throwing up. I do really need to eat something though. At the end of the road I find McDonalds. I know right, typical tourist, travel half way round the world and you’re going to McDonalds. I just didn’t feel brave enough to start sampling foreign food and at least with McDonalds it’s universally the same.

I went back to my room feeling deflated and defeated. For a fleeting moment I started questioning whether I had done the right thing. I recall watching Anchorman in bed trying to fall asleep. Tomorrow will be a new day. Only 355 days to go. Maybe the first day of your Gap Year you’ll find best friends, have a profound moment of clarity or have a spontaneous adventure.

None of that happened to me.

Should this worry you? No, it really shouldn’t. All of the good stuff I mentioned before? Well that all began on Day 2. Call it what you will, things happen when they are supposed to.

You’d be naïve to think that a Gap Year goes swimmingly all of the time. That you’re going to be in great company and be in the best mood constantly. Sometimes you’re going to be tired or sick. Sometimes you may even eat at McDonalds!

Trust me when I tell you that at the end of your Gap Year when you look back, you’ll grin like an idiot thinking about all the good times.

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