by Zoë  Ramsey

When I was 17, I secretly defied my father and boarded an airplane bound for Turkey, where I spent one amazing month of the summer before my final year of high school. Ten years later, he still doesn’t know.

I never considered myself particularly rebellious. Independent is how I’d describe myself. My parents split when I was quite young, just two years old. If you knew my parents, you’d wonder how they even got together in the first place. I spent the school year with my mother on one side of the country and visited my father during the summer holidays on the other. As I got older, I realised my summer holidays could be used for things I wanted to do, rather than just the obligatory family visit.

So at the age of 16, I participated in my first foreign exchange. I spent the summer in Brazil, a decision my father supported both eagerly and financially. I was always going to be a traveller and he was happy to encourage my dream. It was my first taste of travel and I latched onto it and never let go. So when the opportunity presented itself to go on another exchange the following summer, I jumped at it. Dad wasn’t so pleased. Turkey was different from Brazil. It was farther away, more dangerous. I remember the phone call perfectly.

“I…don’t plan on sending you,” he had said.

I remember exactly what my mother said when I repeated his words. ‘So just go and don’t tell him,” she had said with a shrug.

So that’s exactly what I did.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at seventeen (my eyes most unfortunately closed) with my host mother and host brother standing in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I first saw the “Me, At 17”  prompt, I racked my brain for something I did at 17 and was disappointed that I was coming up with nothing. Then I almost laughed out loud when I realised that was the year I took my secret trip around the world and knew immediately that’s what I was to write about.


Zoë Ramsey
attended the University of Edinburgh and received her MSc in Creative Writing. She currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she’s working on her first novel. She can be contacted via twitter @zoe_writes_.