This month's travel link-up topic is our "greatest adventure". I thought about my first trip to England at the age of 14. I thought about eating pho on the side of the road in Hanoi. I thought about my impromptu weekend in New York. I thought about my decision to live abroad.
Then I delved between those moments. I thought about the catalyst for my move to London; about the chain of events that propelled me to the future that I have today.
And I remembered the place where it truly began; I remembered the porters at our college calling out my name ("Jaime") and my roommate's name ("Jamie") when our rooms were assigned on the first day. I remembered saying the oath at the Bodleian aloud when asked.
I remembered Oxford and all its intracacies: the funny names for the terms (Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity), the way we shortened "tutorial" to "tute", and the weird and crazy "entz" parties we had in the Junior Common Rooms.
I remembered sitting across from the blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy in the photo above (because we were boys and girls, then) and rushing back to our staircase to find his name, running my finger down the list of names until I found the only "John" there. I remembered my tutorials with the great-great-great nephew of William Wordsworth, Jonathan Wordsworth, and how his cats used to jump on my papers during the tutorials at his house.
I remembered it all: the laughter, the fun, the anxiety, the heartbreak, the heartache. The uncertainty I felt for a future which I know now to be resplendent in happiness and joy. The color of the boats bobbing below Magdalen bridge.
Isn't it funny how, when we're on an adventure, we don't necessarily know it yet? We don't know that we're at the top of the waterfall, paddling furiously towards the edge. We don't know how our boat will take the fall; whether it will capsize and drown us all, or whether we'll go whoosh all the way to the bottom and do more than just survive: we'll thrive.
Were the six months I spent studying at Oxford my greatest adventure? Well, it was the point at which the rest of my life began. It's what led me to love, a career, and a life abroad. And I can't help but think that, yeah - it was a pretty amazing, damn fantastic time.
This month's travel link-up is hosted by Angie, Emma, Jessi, and guest host Andrea. Head over to their blogs to read about their greatest adventures.