Marysville student exploring Africa before starting college
Marysville student, 18, on a 10-month tour
She's seen the photos others have taken while on their own trans-Africa camping adventures. Sirianni, 18, left her family home in Marysville on Thursday to join a group of about 20 others on a camping trip through more than 26 African countries. She plans to be in Africa for 40 weeks.
"I know I should be scared of certain things like the tension and unrest in a lot of countries, but I'm just more excited than anything," she said. "The only thing I'm not looking forward to is being sick. We're bush camping, which means out in the middle of nowhere, which means no indoor plumbing."
Sirianni, who graduated from Marysville Pilchuck High School in June, said she was planning to attend a four-year university six months ago but couldn't find quite the right fit, so she started looking for ways to earn college credit while traveling.
She considered a semester at sea program through the University of Virginia but decided against it. Then Sirianni found Oasis Overland, a company located in England, that offers adventure tours throughout Asia and Africa, South America and the Middle East. She spoke to her parents about her idea to take a year off from school and sign on for the longest tour the company offers in Africa.
"We as a family went around and around the college thing and what other options there are," Sirianni's mother, Jane, said. "It's going to be pretty amazing. We're 100 percent excited for her."
Sirianni researched the company and started planning her trip after graduation. She took malaria pills, got several visas, took a self-defense class, and made sure everything she packed she could carry with her and had at least two uses. She started a blog, AnnainAfrica.com, to share her travel experience with family and friends.
"I'll be able to write a lot and then post all of the updates at once when I get to a Wi-Fi area," she said. "I'm definitely taking my camera. I'll be uploading photos."
This isn't the first time Sirianni has traveled out of the country or to Africa. She's been to Brazil and France and a year ago traveled to Israel and Egypt with her family. This will be her longest trip yet.
Traveling through Africa will give her a chance to practice French, a language she studied for four years in high school. She also studied Nigeria in a class last school year and wants to use some pidgin English she learned. She researched the places she'll be and is especially looking forward to seeing Lake Victoria, going along with a gorilla tracker as they work, and possibly trying shark cage diving in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sirianni said she has earned a year's worth of college credits through the Running Start, advanced-placement courses and College in the High School programs. She expects to receive some college credit for an international relations class she plans to complete when she returns home in September 2012.
Her plan after Africa is to finish her associate's degree at Everett Community College and then transfer to a four-year university to possibly study social studies, politics, sociology or anthropology.
While excited to meet new people throughout her travels, Sirianni said she will definitely miss her family and friends.
"It's a mixture of emotions," she said. "It will be worth it. And I'm coming back home."
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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