Maybe that’s a little overdramatic, but if it weren’t for a phone call from a friend and some seriously fast packing, I wouldn’t be where I am now (which is sitting in a hotel in Jamaica, New York).

Friday night, my mom put together a going away party for me and a small group of family and friends came to see me off. I was having pleasant time mingling with everyone and eating the delicious baklava my sister had made when my friend Nick from St. Olaf called me around 7 p.m.and saved my life.

Nick called to wish me well on my travels and tell me to be safe. After talking with him for a few minutes, I bemoaned the fact that I had to puddle jump for two days before actually making it to Istanbul.

Me: “My family is driving down to the cities tomorrow (Saturday), and then we fly out of Minneapolis at 6 a.m. Sunday for New York, and then fly from New York to Istanbul on Monday.”
Nick: “Oh…I just saw John (who is going on TIME with me) at REI and he said you guys are leaving tomorrow?…”

You can imagine the panic that ensued after I checked my itinerary and confirmed that I did indeed fly out from Minneapolis at 6 a.m. the very next morning.

After some very hasty packing and repacking in order for my suitcase to weigh under 50 lbs, my parents and I piled in the car at 1:30 a.m. and sleepily drove down to Minneapolis. I made my flight with lots of time to spare, but I was definitely frazzled to say the least. For the past couple of weeks I had been so sure that we were flying out from Minneapolis on Sunday morning that I found myself mentally unprepared to leave my hometown, family, and friends behind. After months of anticipation, I was faced with leaving one measly day earlier than planned and I didn’t feel ready.

Now I’m sitting in our hotel in New York, thankful to be where I am, and I’m coming to the realization that no amount of preparation in the world could prepare me for the adventure I am teetering on the edge of. Even if I had the date right from the beginning, I still would feel how I do right now: unsure, nervous, and super excited. I’m trying to come to terms with these feelings, as I’m sure they will be popping up again countless times over the next few months. I have never been good at being spontaneous and accepting the unexpected, so this trip will hopefully teach me, among other things, to go with the flow. And to double check my itinerary. Maybe even triple check.