Saying goodbye was particularly hard when, for the first time in my entire life, I knew it would be at least 11 months before I’d be back. I was a bit nervous but my nerves were nothing compared to the last time I traveled abroad. This time more than anything, I was excited to start the long anticipated year as a Fulbright ETA.
My journey technically began back in the spring of 2017 when I decided to apply for a Fulbright scholarship. I submitted the application in the fall of 2017 and began to wait. In January I was informed that I had made it to the semi-finalist stage of applications. While I waited to hear if I would be a finalist, my classmates and friends were applying to jobs and accepting positions. Finally in the end of March while cracking down on the final stages of my thesis, I got the email notification that I had been accepted to the Fulbright Taiwan. Since that time I was applying for medical clearance filling out paperwork and desperately trying to figure out what to pack. And finally, the time came to say goodbye.
My family (Mom, Dad, Will, and Owen), Will’s friend and foreign exchange student David from Germany, and Carter came to see me off on my flight. Although Ben and Hannah weren’t there, the scene was fairly similar to just a few months earlier when we saw Ben off to the airport on his way to hike the PCT. We took the classic Ferguson family selfie, said a tearful goodbye, and I was off just as the sun was beginning to set over Boston.
The flight was long but fortunately I ran into several other Fulbrighters on the way and we made our way to Taipei together. As we landed, the sun was rising over the skyscrapers of Taipei and I could spot Taipei 101 off in the distance. Although it sounds disgustingly cliche, I couldn’t help but think the sun was setting on my time in the US for now and just beginning to rise on my time in Taiwan.