Sailing Away From the Safe Harbor

By Thomas Friestad

COLUMBIA, Mo. — How ironic…literally hours after I finish my final News Reporting blog post on the subject of “working without a formula,” I get to pen an additional post for a different blog, one about an experience during which I will be able to put this mantra to the test. In exactly 17 days, I will be traveling out of the country for a two-week field reporting trip to Costa Rica. This marks not only my first legitimate travel experience without parental accompaniment, but also my first journalistic experience in a completely foreign setting, with no clear formula to follow whatsoever.

This knowledge makes me ever so slightly apprehensive; it’s one thing to boast of adaptability when you’re covering stories on or slightly off campus, but another entirely to set foot on foreign soil and apply the same mindset. Sitting in an MU classroom with limited information on what the trip will entail, I feel like a case study in contradiction; I feel both hyper prepared for the trip and not prepared at all. Cram the books, YouTube videos and Prof. Allen lectures into my head as I may, the trip has the potential to defy any expectations I can come up with right now, for better or for worse.

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You might say I intend to “dive headfirst” into this Costa Rica experience.

Anyhow, as any English majors reading may have inferred from the title, I will be keeping in mind a famous Mark Twain quote as I prepare to embark on this voyage, one that currently hangs on a poster in my apartment. “20 years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” It’s something that could easily be cast aside as just another slogan at which to passively nod and promptly forget (e.g. “live in the moment,” “let go” or my personal favorite, “YOLO”), but I plan on living and breathing it to the fullest extent I can during my time south of the (Nicaraguan) border.

I mentioned it in one of my classroom answers, but this is an opportunity I may never have again and one I’m highly fortunate to have now that, one day, I’ll be able to share with my future children and grandchildren. I may not be able to predict what specific opportunities await me, either for journalism stories or life experiences, but I’ll be darned if I don’t intend to identify and seize whichever ones come my way. My ultimate goal: board the return flight with not only a checked-off Study Abroad bucket list box and a knockout resume item, but the satisfaction of having absorbed every second of this chance of a lifetime, hopefully with a smile on my face every step of the way.

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