The Real 7 Feelings You Get Before Going Abroad
Seven feelings that you will likely experience in full intensity before going abroad.
As I get ready to leave for the internship in Belgium this summer, my feelings are in as much disarray as my room currently is (which, I assure you, would rival even that of the messiest high school boy you know). As you can imagine, I’m pretty darn excited to have this experience and go abroad again. But I would be blatantly lying to you if I told you that was all I felt. And honestly, remembering how I felt last year, a lot of the same feelings are coming up. After reading blogs from fellow travelers and talking to my own friends, I’ve come up with a list of seven feelings that you will likely experience in full intensity before going abroad. Here they are, in complete honesty.
I feel nonchalant. Part of my brain is still struggling to wrap my head around the fact that I will soon be gone. I will be spending my summer in another country. Thousands of miles across the world. I’m leaving in two weeks. Bah, what is two weeks? Eight hours at work passes slower than what a month should feel like. I have plenty of time to figure it out, right? How hard can it be to figure out my life’s possessions for three months, to pack my suitcase and purse, to purchase all the train, bus, and plane tickets I need beforehand? Not that hard, I’m sure. It won’t hurt me if I put it off just until tomorrow. Or the next day. Or next week. I’m sure I could figure it out somehow…
I feel panicked. Ironically, I alternate between these first two feelings about every ten minutes. When I’m not ignorantly pretending my trip isn’t looming closer, I’m freaking out and panicking. I’m leaving in less than TWO WEEKS?! I’m gone the whole summer? I have to figure out what I’m bringing, what I’m packing, where I’m going NOW?! I should have ordered euros earlier, am I going to have everything together in time, will I remember to pack everything I need, what happens if I forget this important thing… Ultimately, my biggest panic is that loaded question, “Am I ready?” And it freaks me out the more I realize the less time I truly have before leaving.
I feel excited. NO. WAY. I get to go to Belgium. As in Europe. Across the world. A NEW COUNTRY! I get to be RIGHT THERE where history might be happening this summer. I get to explore a new city, try new foods, meet new people. I get to add to the list of countries I’ve been to. I get to learn all about diplomacy and how the organization works. I get to practice my French, and possibly even learn some Dutch. I get to work for the United States government. I get to celebrate my birthday halfway across the world. I get to have real world working experience in another country. I get to meet important people and expand my global network in a way most people never have the chance to. I promise I’m actually a humble person, but dang these are some good bragging points!
I feel scared. I would love to tell you that I am 100% at ease, calm and collected about going abroad again. I would love to make you think that I am a wise travel guru, someone who has reached the ultimate level of travel zen, but that would be false. As much as I love to travel, I will always feel a little bit panicked, a little bit afraid. Anyone who tells you differently is lying, because it’s still a big world out there. So yes, part of me is scared. I’m scared to get lost in a big city where I don’t speak the language. I’m scared I won’t be able to fight homesickness and I’ll break down in tears on the phone to my mom because I can’t just hop in the car for a short drive to see her. I’m scared I’ll do an awful job at my internship or mess up an important project, and thus ruin my chances of employment with them in the future. I’m scared I won’t make any new friends and will spend my time alone in my room. I’m scared that there might be another terror attack in a city I’m in, particularly since I’ll be staying in Brussels. I’m scared, yes. But the trick everyone who travels must learn is how to not let it hold you back, and I refuse to let my fear do that.
I feel lucky. Not everyone gets to go abroad and travel to the places they’ve always dreamed about. Not everyone has a chance to explore the world once, let alone multiple times. I feel so lucky to have this internship, to have studied abroad last summer, to have scholarships to help with my costs. To be clear, I have worked very hard for this. I studied hard for all of my classes, put hours into applications, and saved all of my hard-earned wages for this trip. All of my travels, I have funded totally on my own, through savings, work, and scholarships. But I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to do something that I love, to combine my passion for traveling and my studies while applying it in a professional setting. I feel lucky to have beat out thousands of other applicants for the internship, for the scholarships. I feel lucky to add another country to my passport, to make another city my new home. I am lucky.
I feel nostalgic. As the days fade closer to my flight, I find myself reflecting more and more on the memories I made the last time I was abroad. Remember the street market in Tokyo where I tried eel for the first time and nearly threw up when I found out what it was? Or the time in London when I felt on top of the world as I ordered my first drink in the pub at only 18 years. Or how about last year, in France, when my friends and I spent the 4th of July eating Domino’s pizza, drinking wine at the local lake, and laughing until tears leaked out. All those memories come flooding back, and I find myself wondering–will it be like last time? Will I meet some equally awesome new friends, or will I feel the creeping tendrils of loneliness? It’s all I can do to hope that the next time I’m sitting on the couch in Nebraska, I have new memories from this summer shining in my mind that I can look back on with a smile.
I feel eager. Despite the roller coaster ride of emotions flooding my mind every few seconds, in the end, I feel eager. I am ready to start my trip, even if I forget something, get lost, have to sacrifice something at home. I am ready for the chance to learn something new, to put myself out there, to explore what a new city has to offer to me. I’m ready to make more memories that will last a lifetime, to find new friends in another corner of the world, to have an adventure this summer.
BECAUSE NO MATTER WHAT ELSE I FEEL, I KNOW IN MY HEART THAT I WOULDN’T WANT TO PASS THIS EXPERIENCE UP FOR ANYTHING.