Counting Down the Days

One month. Four weeks. Twenty eight days. Six hundred and seventy two hours. Forty thousand, three hundred and twenty minutes. The amount of time until my study abroad orientation in Arica starts. (Plus 11 minutes if we’re being exact.) This is a strange concept. On the one hand, I feel like my two-month-long winter break has been dragging on endlessly, especially as all of my friends go back to Madison and go to class and work and have fun without me. On the other hand, the fact that I’m actually leaving the country is starting to feel real at last. It’s hard to wrap my head around.

Yes, it did start to get exciting when I skipped class last semester to get fingerprinted for my FBI background check (all three times, in fact). And yes, it began to feel real when I had officially turned in my Student Visa application (and when I applied the second time due to some missing paperwork). And yes, it got even more real when I went to Madison this weekend and called United Airlines while my friends were in class in order to reschedule my flight to Santiago that had been cancelled. I’m sure I won’t actually feel like I’m going to Chile until I’m in the airport with all of my luggage, saying goodbye to my family, my state, and my country all at the same time. But as the number of days until I leave continues to go down, I’m beginning to believe just a little bit more that this will be my life in four weeks, and not just the life of some random person whose study abroad blog I’m reading. As I write this post on the bus home, fresh from one last weekend in Madison, it’s incredible to think how different my life will be one month (and seven minutes) from now.

So since I’m not actually in Chile yet, and I continue to bum around my house pretending that it’s still winter break, my life is probably a lot less exciting than yours is at the moment. But if you are someone who is thinking about maybe possibly studying abroad in the future (in Chile, or anywhere else), let me give you a step-by-step guide on how to study abroad Megan-style. Here is what I’ve accomplished so far:

Step #1: Apply to a study abroad program in a city you’ve never heard of before. (check)
Step #2: Quit your job. (check)
Step #3: Compile your life savings into one bank account, and get ready to spend it all in one incredibly awesome semester. (check) It may be necessary to break your childhood piggy banks and finally cash in all those coins you saved up as a ten year old. (on my to-do list when I get off the megabus, soon to be a check)
Step #4: Sit back and try to wait out the two million, four hundred and nineteen thousand, two hundred seconds that are left until you can finally start your adventure. (in progress)

Right now my study abroad experience seems like a lifetime away. But I do know that once it begins, all of the fingerprints, all the visa paperwork, and every minute waiting on hold with United Airlines will be worth it. At least that’s what everyone has been telling me. And that’s what I hope to tell you too when I’m sitting in a plane on my way home from South America five months from now, in a seat not-so-much-unlike the megabus seat I’m sitting in now.