3 days from now, once I step on the plane, my life is going to change forever.
I’ve only been out of the United States twice; both times were to visit our missionary friends with my parents and it didn’t feel much like I was leaving the country. I’ve never even flown by myself. But in 3 days, I am going to leave my whole life behind for a month so I can study German in the best way possible: head first.
I studied Spanish in high school. It didn’t really work out for me, but learning a language is very important, so when I got to college I decided to try something crazy: German 101. I loved that class, so I took German 102. That class was great too, so I continued taking German classes. Now here I am with two years of German classes toward a declared minor and a booked flight for a month-long trip with barely any idea how I fell down this rabbit hole. Throughout these classes it has become clear to me that studying abroad in Germany is the best thing you can do when you have German on your degree. Plus, getting to see in person all the history and culture that I had been studying for two years was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. (I tell people that my goal is to come back fluent in German, but I’m starting to think that they don’t realize I am joking……) At that point, the decision to go made sense. I think I actually said the words, “Why not?” when I explained the opportunity to my parents. This decision has been increasingly difficult since the day I made it, because the reality of it has slowly started to set in.
I’ve been planning this trip since November. While starting early is great, and it’s allowed me to stay on top of due dates and other preparation, the anticipation has been killing me slowly. I started a part time job during the spring semester to help me save up money to cover the cost. I have been extremely lucky with available financial aid and scholarships in addition to being able to get a part time job at such short notice. All of that added up quickly, plus a little help from friends and family. Besides saving money, I’ve been reading articles on activities to do in Germany, more information on the culture and clothing to wear, and how to better blend in with the locals. As a birthday present, I got a new set of luggage to take with me that will better survive the multiple flights than my old, raggedy luggage. I’ve been packing, either in my head or for real, for almost 2 months now. I hope to be done before I leave. The indecision and procrastination has really gotten to me in the last week or so.
It’s hard to believe that this is actually happening to me. I’ve wanted this for so long and put so much work to get to where I am now. This whole experience has been amazing and I haven’t even left yet. While I am so excited and ready for this trip, uncertainty has been holding me back. On one hand, I am getting the chance of a lifetime to study the language I’m trying to learn in its native country. On the other hand, I have to make this journey alone. Studying abroad is something I’ve always wanted to do, but when faced with the reality of what I am doing, it gets more than a little scary. A month is a very long time to be away from everyone and everything you know. My family, my friends, my boyfriend, most importantly my dog. Up until now all my major life experiences have been with these people, and I’m about to go on the trip of a lifetime with my support system an ocean away. There are so many “what if’s” running through my head that sometimes it’s hard to remember why I wanted to go in the first place. However, in spite of my hesitations, I am certain I’ll be getting on a plane in 3 days no matter what. I’ve always been the type to try and conquer my fears because the best experiences in life are usually just out of reach of our comfort zone, and this trip is well beyond that for me.
As I said earlier, I expect this to be a life-altering experience for me from the moment I step foot on the plane. There are so few opportunities like this that I will be cherishing every moment and learning all I can. I will miss all the people (and the pet) I am leaving behind, but I think that I’ll be so busy with classes and soaking it all in that I won’t have time to be too homesick. Plus, the pace of life will be a very nice reprieve from the insanity that the last week has been. It would be nice to be fluent in German by the end of my trip, but if not, I’ll have an excuse to go back to Germany soon.
Despite all the craziness and the emotional ups and downs, I can’t wait until I leave. I’ll probably start counting the hours soon (60 hours left when I wrote this post). With any luck, they will pass quickly so that I may begin my study abroad experience as soon as possible.