About a year ago I was offered the opportunity to study abroad in Greece during the spring semester of my freshman year and I turned it down, thinking I wouldn’t be ready.
In 24 hours, I will leave for a summer study abroad program in Greece, and I am still not sure if I’m ready because (besides still having to finish packing) I am monumentally nervous.
There are some nerves that feel familiar in the first-day-of-school-jitters kind of way, like worrying about getting along with my roommate and if I’ll make friends quickly. And then there are the bigger nerves that are completely new to me, like worrying about my ability to communicate effectively with people I don’t share a common language with or if I’m prepared to handle writing about intense topics in a tricky economic and political climate.
I also still don’t have a pair of sunglasses.
I have only been abroad once before, on a trip to Italy with my high school, and I remember being incredibly nervous for that experience too, and none of my pre-departure worries actually ended up affecting my overall experience.
Still, I worry about whether I’m bringing enough socks or too many pairs of shorts. I worry about my plane not making it to Boston on time for my connecting flight, even though I know that is completely ridiculous since there are no forecasted weather issues and I gave myself a five hour layover. I worry that my roommate is going to judge me by my extensive amount of skin care products. I worry about not being “ready” for an experience I’m excited about because I don’t know exactly what to expect or prepare for.
It is scary knowing that while I have learned a lot in my first year of college, there is nothing that could possibly prepare me for the things I will experience on this trip. And that is okay. I’m not stepping outside the classroom, I am flying 4,000 miles from it. I am giving myself permission to feel unprepared and afraid. But I also refuse to allow that fear overcome my excitement. I am excited to explore a new place, develop my voice as a journalist and as a writer, take way too many pictures, order a drink legally and learn from my peers and my professors as well as my environment.
Tomorrow I will wake up at 5 a.m. and drive to the airport. I have no doubt that my mom will cry as she watches me go through security and that I will realize I forgot something only after I board the plane. There will be three flights, 20 hours of travel ahead of me and hopefully no weather issues or technical delays. I will have probably decided to bring that fourth pair of shoes. And I will do my best to be ready for what the world is about to throw at me.