When I was 20 years old I was lucky enough to study for a semester in Florence ,Italy. This would be the biggest adventure of my life. I was looking forward to spending time with 25 other students, traveling on weekends & learning about cultures half a world away from my home in Tennessee. But I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be what I expected. Being so far away from home, in a country I didn’t know, where they speak a language I didn’t speak made it a really difficult adjustment for me. The group of students that I thought would all support one another. Well, they just didn’t get along. We were all so different. We had different ideas about what we wanted out of our time there, different personalities & different beliefs about life that just didn’t line up. We were all stuck together in the same living quarters & classroom all day long. There was a lot of tension and stress. For me, it was emotional for sure, a lot more isolating than I expected it to feel.
I had stumbled across Ben Rector when I was in high school a few years earlier. I was drawn to his songs because he has a way of writing that’s really poetic. Not necessarily sad, but thought provoking. His album “Brand New” had just come out & I listened to it constantly on that trip. It was something I could hold on to whenever I was feeling lonely, or homesick, or out of my element. Something that was comforting to me when I didn’t feel nearly in my comfort zone. There were happy, upbeat songs that would pick me up when I felt overwhelmed socially. But also songs that were more introspective & made me feel like I could still find things to be thankful for even if this experience wasn’t what I expected. 30,000 Feet is the song I related to most. It was a reminder that day to day life can be frustrating because we tend to focus on all the negative things. But when you take another look, from a distance, with a different perspective, like from 30,000 feet, life is pretty good. And although I was grateful for that experience, I’ll always remember, sitting on the plane, listening to that song & thinking. The next time I disembark, I will be with my family again, back to a place I’m used to.