Awe. The moment I opened my email on a sunny, Wednesday afternoon and discovered my dream came true. I was going to Argentina! I read it once, twice, and then once more until I had convinced myself I had not read “Congratulations!” wrong. Was this really happening? Was I actually going to be on a plane in four months? I had always had a gut feeling that this was in the cards for me, and while applying for the program I never had a doubt in my mind that I would be accepted. After doing a little dance in the middle of East Campus mall and making a few important phone calls, I walked back to my apartment with my head held just a little bit higher. The stage was set.
Exhilaration. I had one foot in Madison, one foot in Buenos Aires, and my head seemed to be drifting among the clouds. The awe of acceptance quickly transitioned into pure excitement. A beaming smile was plastered to my face for at least 72 hours after I learned I was going to Argentina. The people, the classes, and the assignments – none of it seemed to make sense anymore. HELLO! I was going to ARGENTINA! I wanted to climb to the top of Bascom Hall and announce to the world that I was leaving. That my life was about to change in ways I couldn’t fathom and that I couldn’t be happier about it. I was so lucky!
Fear. Then one day it hit me. It was the perfect day. I only had one class, and it was a sunny and warm fall afternoon, by far my favorite time of the year. I ran some errands on State Street, took a stroll to the capitol through the freshly fallen, crunchy leaves, and grabbed a coffee at Starbucks before meeting my mom for lunch on the square. Why did I want to leave this? I loved Madison. I loved the people, the weather, and the campus. I loved my family. I loved my friends. Studying abroad had only been a topic of conversation over the dinner table, a mere idea I brought up when people routinely asked me about college and my major. I had been talking about doing this for so long, but now it was actually happening. Was I really as confident and prepared as I made myself out to be? Some friends were telling me that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity while others were telling me my trip was going to fly by and I shouldn’t over think it. Well, which one was it? I found myself completely torn between excitement and sadness.
It has been over a month since I eagerly read my acceptance letter. I haven’t even left, and yet I feel as though my life has already changed – for the better, of course. It took me a bit to realize that although I love my home, my city, my school, my friends, my family – I am simply coasting here. Wandering around campus, completing assignments, going to the same places on the weekends, and greeting the same faces day after day. I need more, and I need to accept the scariness of going abroad with open arms and a beaming smile.
“We wander for distraction,
but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc