The Overnight Shift

What better time to update the blog than at 2am during my first and only overnight shift of the summer? Excuse any incomprehensible rambling I might do, but I need to do something to help myself stay awake!

Preparations for India are slowly coming together. I’ve purchased my flight, gotten my vaccines, thought more about malaria medication than I ever would have hoped to, and sent away for my visa (now if I could just get it back… that’d be great!)

My flight is leaving from Madison on August 16th, a date that flashes in my mind so often I feel like I have it tattooed on the back of my hand. It’s coming up so suddenly!

Despite my impending  departure, I feel strangely composed and rather unconcerned. While I think about it all the time, it still doesn’t seem real to me that I’ll be away from Wisconsin for 9 months, and that three weeks from now I’ll be on my way across the Atlantic. My “Summer in Madison” to-do list is still too long for that. I’m telling myself it’ll be easy to pack–I won’t need many clothes, and the weather will be fairly consistent, and how much can I fit into two bags, anyways? Until I have my visa safely in hand, I’m trying to keep all that out of my mind.

I’ve been studying Hindi at the South Asia Summer Language Institute, which has been keeping me busy for a good part of the day, and will hopefully serve me well once I’m actually in India. Not only have I learned more of the language, but the instructors have passed on valuable cultural information, as well.

Saying good-bye (or not saying good-bye) has been an interesting experience. I prefer not to do it, and I’ve decided that maybe it’s not necessary. At the end of the school year, especially, India felt so far away that it seemed ridiculous to say much more than “have a good summer” to anyone not staying in Madison. Now, as my departure gets closer and summer gets busier for everyone, I often feel like I don’t know when I’ll see certain friends and family members again. Perhaps it’s easier this way, actually. After all, I won’t be gone forever, and I know from experience that the people who matter will welcome me home like I never left when the time comes.

Sometimes, when I’m overtired and thinking too much, I wonder if I’m crazy for doing this, and I ask myself what business I have in India. Of course I’m interested in the language, the history, and the culture, but I could just study those things here, maybe travel to in India over winter break or next summer. I’ve known from the beginning that I’m not setting myself up for an easy year. And honestly, at this point in my life I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Why should I leave now?

I’m confident I’m making the right choice, though, because if I don’t do this I will spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?” I feel like I want to, I need to step back from everything that is familiar and be able to see more clearly what is actually important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to find all the answers in India or reach any kind of enlightenment, but I do think this experience will help answer some of the questions I have about life and what I should be doing with it.