Once a Matador, always a Matador. That is a statement engraved on a wall on one of the California State University Northridge campus buildings – which surprisingly became my new alma mater. I have just graduated with an executive management certificate in Communication, Design & Innovation on hand and this is a story behind this incredible journey.
I quit Emirates – you already know that. There was this feeling inside me – whispering at first, screaming a few months later – saying that I need to move, that I must leave Dubai in order to grow, discover, and marvel again. And so I quit a stable, well-paid job, which allowed me to travel almost every weekend. Insane? I would rather say necessary. Look at it as on riding a bike; in order to keep your balance, you have to keep moving. Losing speed makes you lose your balance.
Having nothing rolled out after quitting scared the shit out of me. One afternoon, while dwelling in despair of life existence question of "What am I going to do next?“ I received a newsletter from my alma mater Charles University in Prague with a list of universities offering summer programs they have partnership with. While browsing through the list, there were some schools in Poland, Germany, the UK and a few others. And there was also a university in California. Well, I could see myself spending summer in California, hell yeah. I clicked through and landed on a short description and application deadline in red colour saying "February 2018“. Damn it. There was also an email address to send the application to. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, I thought for myself. Dear Juane, I was wondering, if there is any spot left on the summer program, my email started. A few days later I was told, that there are no more available slots however that my profile would match the program perfectly. Bummer.
One week later I got another email from Juane saying We took your profile to the hosting university and after their review, they agreed on making one extra spot for you. You have one week to pay the tuition which will be supported by 70 % scholarship. And that was the moment when I knew that I have a summer school to attend. In Los Angeles, California. Together with young professionals from 8 different countries.
Leaving Dubai wasn’t easy, especially because of all the great, amazing, inspiring people I met there. But it wasn’t that difficult either, summer was just kicking in with temperatures attacking 50°C and all my closest friends started leaving the city, too. Sayonara.
Lo and behold, my ass had landed in LAX on one hot Friday afternoon in July 2018 and the adventure began. The first night I spent in an Airbnb nearby the campus. That was a joke, to say the least. The house was different from what was advertised online and it was a mess. A lady arrived an hour late to tell us, that they had moved places and so far, there is no room ready for me and Gabriel, another guy from the program, who I partnered to split the bill. That’s something you don’t want to hear after flying for 26 hours. While I passed out on the sofa, she made some room look like an actual bedroom with beds and towels. And we took it as both of us were tired af.
And the next day we moved to our campus and its 5-star housing compared to the Airbnb earlier.
After 4 hours of beauty nap, as a true Millenial, I downloaded Tinder. You know, just to look around what the neighbourhood has to offer. A few slides left, I am looking at handsome, bearded guy with gorgeous eyes. Swipe right and off to the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.
The next morning I woke up to a Tinder message from that handsome, bearded guy with gorgeous eyes. It said See you at the campus tour today. Say whaaaat?! That little stalker not only did stalk the shit out of me but was also part of the same program. See you there Mr Sherlock, I replied.
We all gathered in an atrium to begin the tour. I came earlier so I could easily monitor the entrance to see that guy coming. And a few minutes later, there he was. Looking even better than on the pictures. About my height, however, with loooooong legs, smile from ear to ear and longish hair. I came to introduce myself. Daniel – that’s his name. Mine is Tomas and I am melting.
That day, we walked the tour together talking about anything and everything. And what had started as one nice sunny Sunday in July 2018 in California, swiftly transformed into Monday, and later to Tuesday. And before we knew, we had a wonderful Wednesday date, riding a scooter through warm July air of Santa Monica. His hair was flying around making the air smell like lavender. I wish I had some hair to fly, too. Later we rode a roller coaster at the pier with our hands flying high. And that moment couldn’t have been better. We laughed. We sat quietly and it felt equally good.
Two weeks, 1804 driven km, a lightning strike and numerous bursts of laughter later, we were standing at the LAX airport crying our eyes out. His flight was about to depart and our Summer 2018 was set to become nothing but a sweet memory. I felt like being back in 2016 when my friends went with me to Prague airport to wave me goodbye before moving to Dubai. And this time it was me who was there to stay and wave goodbyes.
And as cliché, as it sounds, every end means also a new beginning. And who knows what can happen next when the Earth is your oyster. I am eager to find out. To grow, discover and marvel. Again.