And so it begins…

In 57 days, 14 hours, and 38 minutes from the time I write this my Lufthansa flight from Chicago to Frankfurt am Main will be touching down in Germany.  My last days in the United States are dwindling at an increasing pace and I have so much left to do before I leave.  It’s daunting.  So I’m pretty occupied right now to say the least.  However, I am learning that the adventure that is studying abroad begins long before you leave.

What I have discovered in the last couple of weeks is that leaving for a year abroad puts one in a position where suddenly you’re spending a whole lot more time with the people you may not always get to see a lot of, you go to the places you haven’t been to before (or have always meant to go to had “life not gotten in the way”), and frequent the ones you always inevitably find yourself at more often.

So, in the last weeks before I leave my life in Madison (and Chicago, my hometown which I frequent) I’ve been creating an “extended” adventure abroad by starting new adventures here—a precursor to the ones I’ll have in Germany.  Even more important to me is that what I’m doing now is so real—the moments are cherished and appreciated seemingly more than similar moments in my past.

Pushing yourself to change your life, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone does incredible things.  The richness it adds to life is distinctly indescribable.  Knowing things are going to change dramatically is scary.  Indeed it can be terrifying at moments. However, knowing you are going to be perfectly okay regardless of the changes somehow makes your appreciation of what is happening now, what you are losing, but what will remain in your heart and mind intensifies.

Last night after spending a very hot evening on Memorial Union Terrace with some friends I enjoyed a ride in the country.  With oldies blaring across empty cornfields from my friends convertible I was able to look up into the stars more visible outside of the Isthmus without worrying about what was happening on Facebook, who was texting me as my phone vibrated in my pocket and the worries I have for my arrival in Germany.

I am learning very quickly that whatever the circumstance, I must take in what makes each one unique and soak it up.  These are lessons well learned in Madison that will be well used in Freiburg.