University of Wisconsin–Madison

Doei, Wisconsin

If I am going to be honest, I really do not want to leave my small Wisconsin town and live halfway across the world for five months. Here, I am happy and safe – my friends, family, and favorite hiking spots are all close to me. It’s all that I have ever really known. I’m scared to start over in a place where I am unsure of where to buy groceries or how to get around or who to ask when I have questions about literally anything. I have no clue what to expect over there.

But I knowwwww that stepping out of my comfort zone will legitimately help me grow as a person. My family members, advisors, and peers have only reiterated that to me about a gazillion times. So, that is why as I get ready to leave, my emotions are ALL over the place. Yes, I am very excited, but I am also very nervous and very anxious and very alone.

The list of things that I have been worrying about keeps growing: Will I have enough money? Will I be able to get from the airport in Amsterdam to the train station in my town to my new apartment without getting lost more than ten times? Will I make new friends? Will I be able to buy a bike somewhere near my building? Will I be able to ride around on my bike without being hit by a car? Will my little knowledge of the Dutch language and culture be a problem? Will my friends back home forget about me while I am gone? Will somebody steal my valuables when I am in a busy city? Will the very few clothes and shoes that I packed be sufficient enough for everything that I want to do? The questions go on forever.

I know that I am going to do so many amazing things while I am abroad, but I am afraid of everything that I will miss out on back home. I have MAJOR fomo. It’s stupid, right? I won’t be able to go camping for Labor Day weekend or see my friends during Oktoberfest. I am going to miss every single of my family member’s birthdays, not to mention that I won’t be there to celebrate Badger game days at Camp Randall under the lights. All of the kids that I graduated from high school with are going to be having bonfires, but I won’t be there with them. When the leaves at Devil’s Lake State Park turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, I’m not going to get to hike my favorite trails and then stop at the apple orchard on my way home. Fall in Wisconsin is the best, and I won’t be there to do all of the things that I love to do. But what is getting me past all of this is the fact that I have experienced a ton of falls in Wisconsin already, and I have so many falls left to still experience. So, I’m trying my gosh darn best to just get past everything that will be happening back home without me.

None the less, I truly am excited to travel the world. This adventure marks the very first time that I will be flying by myself internationally. And I really do love airports and new places and traveling a LOT. While I am all over Europe I’m going to try to live life to the fullest, and I mean it. I want to try as many new foods as possible, learn some Dutch, and get out of my comfort zone every opportunity that I have. I already know that this once in a lifetime trip is going to go by too fast, so my goal is to experience as much as I can while I am there. I tried to do as much research as possible leading up to this moment, but I still have absolutely no clue what to expect in Wageningen. Personally, I know that my expectations for the next five months, compared to what will actually happen during that time frame, will be nothing alike. But I guess that’s the fun of it, right?

So, with nothing more than my all time favorite playlist (filled with a mixture of The Lumineers, Luke Combs, Vance Joy, Quinn XCII, Jason Aldean, George Ezra, ARIZONA, and Rascal Flatts – all of which I very HIGHLY recommend) and my suitcase stuffed to the brim, I think that I am as ready as I’ll ever be to conquer the world. Doei, Wisconsin.