Pre-Departure Feels

August 3, 2017

in Academic Year 2017-2018, Australia, Fall 2017, Kelly Petersen, Oceania

As I sit at my gate waiting to board my flight headed for the other side of the world, I can’t help but feel a mix of emotions. This isn’t the first time I’ve traveled abroad, it isn’t even the first time I’ve traveled abroad alone. Still, I can’t help but feel like I don’t know what I got myself into. Did I bite off more than I can chew? Am I ready to say goodbye to everything/everyone I know like the back of my hand for six whole months? Am I ready to be in a completely different timezone as all of my family and friends? Am I ready to start school at another new college (my third in three years, to be exact) with another new roommate? Am I ready for the FOMO that I’m going to feel as all of my friends are enjoying a beautiful Minnesota summer and experiencing the magic that is fall semester, and football season, at UW-Madison without me? All of these questions and more race through my mind. In a few words, I feel:

Nonchalant. When I think about all that I have ahead of me, it still doesn’t feel real. It still hasn’t hit me. I think part of me is convinced that I’m about to set off on a two-week vacation and will be home in no time! But seriously, the years fly by so fast now, what’s six months??

Nervous. I go back and forth between feeling nonchalant and panicky about every twenty minutes. What if I miss one of my connecting flights? What if they lose my luggage? What if I get sick? What if I can’t overcome the culture shock? What if something serious happens back home? What if I get abducted? (Okay, irrational, I know. But that’s happened to people!)

Curious. About where I’ll go and who I’ll meet, what I’ll see and what I’ll eat. I’m curious as to when my brain will finally register that I’m not going home for six months, when that first bout of homesickness will hit and how I’ll manage it. I’m curious about how quickly Sydney will become a second home for me, and what crazy stories I’ll come home with.

Excited. I’m excited to finally see and experience places that I’ve been looking up on Google Image every day for the past year and a half. I’m excited to live out my dream and my passion, to go on my first long-term solo adventure, and get lost a time or two. I’m excited to be able to say, “I wanted to do this, and I did it. I made it happen.”

Nostalgic. Looking back, this past year was the best year of my life, all of the ups and downs included. Over the past few days I’ve caught myself looking through my photos one too many times; reliving the amazing first year that I had at UW-Madison and the truly incredible and irreplaceable relationships I made there, as well as reminiscing about all of the unforgettable memories I’ve made with my hometown best friends over the years. How will the next six months compare to this past year? Will the memories I make be better than any I’ve made thus far? Will I ever cross the minds of those back home and at school? Will they keep me up-to-date on the goings-on in their lives? I can only hope that by the end of it, I’ll have some exciting stories to share with those back home, and perhaps some new friends that will make going home just as hard as it was leaving home.

Grateful. I can’t put into words how thankful I am to have the support and resources that I do going into this. (Special S/O to Mom and Dad!) A lot of people dream about being able to study abroad, and I’m one of the lucky ones that gets to actually do it. Knowing that this truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience has inspired me to take advantage of every opportunity that my trip has to offer.

Antsy. At this point, I just want to get there so that I can start doing all of the things that I don’t even know I’ll be doing yet!

In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure what I’m ready for. But ready or not, here I come…

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