I always said, “I am planning on going to Costa Rica.” I was accepted into the program months ago, I read the email updates and newsletters from IFSA-Butler, I did an orientation at my home university, I got courses approved by my advisor, and I bought my plane tickets. Even then, I still said, “I am planning on going to Costa Rica.” Finally, I realized that this wasn’t some day dream or possibility. It was happening. When, you may ask, did I finally grasp this reality? Two weeks ago. Needless to say, I panicked slightly. Irrationally and absurdly, I thought about calling the whole thing off. What was I thinking? I couldn’t spend a whole year in another country more or less by myself. I was not prepared for that sort of thing. I hadn’t thought things through. I hadn’t mentally simulated different scenarios. But then again I couldn’t quit now; I had already spent a lot of money. Besides, I had been overseas before; I should be able to handle this. Ok, so I have only a little time left…how on earth do you prepare for a year-long study abroad in such a short period of time? You can’t.
The understanding that I would not be able to adequately prepare mentally for my trip within the time limits I had left did not send me into another bout of anxiety. Instead, it was relieving. Being perfectly prepared is impossible. This is not to say that I haven’t been doing anything to get ready to enter Costa Rica. But my perspective is different. Understanding that I couldn’t be completely ready is probably the best thing I did to prepare for this next year. Sounds backwards, but it is true.
Right now I am saying goodbye to friends, packing, and trying to ease that strange knot in the pit of my stomach—a mix of apprehension and excitement. Very soon I will be in Costa Rica!