The sky was blood orange, dripping with blue and pink cotton-candy hues. Leaning over the edge of the boat, I could feel the cool mist of the ocean on my face. Kelsey and I looked at each other anxiously, our cheeks flushed rose-petal red in the hot Portuguese sun. Suddenly, my gaze shifted back down at the crystal clear water below us. I grabbed her hand and started the countdown before we could change our minds. Moments later, we were plunging into the deep blue sea.

I’ve never felt more alive than in that moment, jumping into the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Faro, Portugal. The warm tropical air was intoxicating, and I was fearless. The water, ice cold against my warm olive skin, sent shockwaves of adrenaline through every nerve ending in my body. When I came up for air I felt exhilarated. Unstoppable. Infinite. I remember how for the first time in a long time, I felt completely free.

Faro was the first city I traveled to when I came abroad three months ago. And although the most time has passed since that trip, I think back on my time there more than any of my other adventures. Before I embarked on my semester-long journey I was terribly nervous, even a little resentful. I was too afraid to even get excited about the months to come. Was I even brave enough to take the plunge?

I find it ironic how all those worries were washed away in the same ocean that kisses the Jersey shoreline I call home. It was comforting to know that although I was 3,000 miles from almost everything I’ve ever known, the Atlantic ocean was still there, holding me up like it always has. And so I was okay. More than okay, actually. I felt all the fear and doubt in my heart roll off my back with the salty waves. I smiled as the golden Faro sun sunk lower in the sky, knowing I was no longer afraid to jump.



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