Traveling without sibling brings new adventure

Feb. 2, 2016

Growing up with a sister one year apart from me was like having a built-in best friend and travel buddy all my life.

Coming from parents who placed such a big importance on experiencing different cultures, food and people, I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty in the world. But from Switzerland and Greece, to Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands, I’ve never experienced any of those without being next to my big sister.

Commentary by Vesna Brajkovic Editor in Chief
Column by Vesna Brajkovic Editor in Chief

This January, for the first time in 22 years, my sister flew across the Atlantic Ocean without me, to study abroad in London, England for the next four to five months.

Maybe I’m a big baby, but adapting to not getting on the plane with her has been a weird and hard adjustment for me. For her too, according to her 18 missed “What’sApp” phone calls at 8 a.m. and daily irrelevant Snapchats about how sick she has been.

I’m happy that my sister is starting a new experience and having her own adventures, but for me, it means more than that. It’s a milestone that means growing up. I knew this day was coming, but I figured it would be in May when I graduate from UW-Whitewater and (hopefully) start my career and life.

After telling my best friend (who lived in Spain last semester) the other day that I felt like I’ve lost my wanderlust over the years, she asked if I’ve ever traveled alone. That’s when I realized that I’ve never really done anything alone. I’ve only ever been with my big sister, which sometimes feels like I’m alone because she’s almost just an extension of who I am.

So, I’m on a mission to find my wanderlust again. Per my best friends advice, I’m going to travel somewhere by myself. This spring break, I’m starting my very own adventures and rediscovering the world without my comfort blanket of a sister. I’ll probably still call her every day to tell her about it though.

I’m always the one pushing people to travel, but now I feel like I’ve never really traveled at all. Hopefully my next trip, although most likely confined to the U.S., will teach me a lot more about life than my previous family trips to dream-worthy destinations.

I urge every student to step outside their comfort zone, no matter how daunting it can be. Experience the world for yourself, have stories that are only yours to tell and be OK with growing up.