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How I Celebrated My 20th Birthday in the Sky

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a huge adrenaline junkie. At the age of 10, I compiled a long list of adventurous activities, such as scuba diving and bungee jumping, thus creating a long and glorified “bucket list.” At the top of that list was skydiving, but I kind of forgot about it for a while, and it wasn’t a priority anymore. I kept saying when I turned 18 I was going to make plans to skydive with a friend of mine, but for some reason, we never made concrete plans. Nonetheless, two years and a whole pandemic later, I finally got to cross skydiving off my list for my 20th birthday.

I went back home to Dubai for the summer, during which I got to celebrate 20 years around the sun on June 2. While I loved that I was able to spend the day with my family, most of my friends weren’t home in time for my birthday which was a bit upsetting. I was sitting on my laptop that night, feeling a bit down about not being able to see my friends, when I impulsively pulled up the website SkyDive Dubai. I saw an early morning time slot for three days later and without thinking twice, I told my mom, made a booking, and signed a waiver for my life that night. I had always wanted to do it and I thought it would be such a fun way to start off my twenties.

June 5 arrived quickly. I woke up early that day — too excited to sleep — got dressed in some athleisure wear, and made myself a light breakfast. Everyone in my family wanted to come see me skydive, so we all got into the car and made the long drive to the location. Once I got there, I was given some basic training on how we were going to jump, what to do when in the sky, and also what to do in case of an emergency. I then got introduced to my instructor who was going to take the jump with me. I geared up. The company also interviewed me about my thoughts before the jump for a little video montage that they were going to put together at the end. Then, it was time to board the flight that would take me 13,000 feet up in the air so I could jump out!

I was surprisingly calm on the plane ride up, just soaking in the views as we ascended. I was going to be jumping out over the Palm Jumeirah, the man-made island in Dubai. When we reached a certain height, they opened the doors and that’s when I could feel my heart start to race (in a good way). I was sitting at the very end of the plane which meant I was jumping last, so I had to patiently wait for the others to jump. Finally, it was my turn! My instructor gave me a thumbs up and the next thing I knew, we had jumped. It felt like time had stopped for a moment, but everything was going by super fast; we were free-falling at 120 miles per hour. When my instructor finally pulled the parachute, we started floating, almost like a bird soaring through the sky. This was finally my opportunity to take in the breathtaking sights around me. Those 20 minutes were probably some of the most thrilling, yet peaceful, moments that I have ever experienced.

Madison Skydiving with her pink parachute
Photos by Skydive Utah

Honestly, words could never describe the feeling to the fullest extent. Unless you experience skydiving yourself, what I described probably would not make sense. Even if you are scared of heights, I think everyone should take that leap (quite literally!) and go skydiving. I promise you will not regret it. I’m hoping that as I travel, I can skydive in other places to get a glimpse of the surroundings from a bird’s eye view, even if it is just for a few minutes.

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Anushka Myndapanda

U Mass Amherst '23

Anushka is currently a junior and majoring in Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science and Statistics. She loves to spend time with family and friends, reading books, staying active, and is passionate about climate change and sustainability. She was born and brought up in Dubai.
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