Farewell Sweet Home Alabama
Before matriculating to college I had moved around a lot. Twelve times to be precise. Albeit my decision to attend a college 1000 miles away from home brought to light myriad anxieties and anticipation from friends and family, my imminent departure for a semester abroad in Scotland, a country an entire ocean away, has surfaced emotions both old and new.
The demands and adversities I faced from childhood through to early adulthood honed my independence, perseverance, and adaptability; thus homesickness was never a present concern addressed by my loved ones before I left for college. In their eyes I was a charismatic, silly (somewhat awkward), down-to-earth and lovable guy – epitomized by my family nickname “Love Machine”. All they really wanted was for the community at Princeton to feel about me the way they felt about me. They desired my complete acceptance into the social sphere of the university. Of course they wanted me to thrive academically as well, but I had complete and utter control over this result thereby making it a lower-tier concern.
At the moment, my family is still wrought with anxiety about my potential “fit” into the foreign community in Scotland, but my soon-to-be home for five months has my family teeming with new concerns as well. Among these concerns are my safety and medical care. Having done ample research, my family is well aware of the many hazards that could befall someone trying to assimilate into a new country. Thus my overall safety and well-being are high on their worry list. Fortunately, by registering to study abroad with the IFSA-Butler program I have been able to combat some of this negative juju that seems intent on dampening my inexhaustible excitement to go abroad. Through letters, emails, and a tremendous community bond IFSA-Butler has been able to provide my family with the reassurance they need to understand that my term abroad is going to be one of safe adventure and constant knowledge-seeking. I’ve purchased travel and safety guides, given my parents an itemized list of my plans while abroad, but nothing has had a greater impact in terms of assuaging my family’s stress than IFSA-Butler.
When I reminisce about my feelings preparing to go to college, I can’t help but notice the analogs between those feelings and the ones I now harbor towards studying abroad. As a first generation college student, the very idea of going to a university was strikingly similar to going to a foreign country. I recall being comatose with excitement for days on end as I prepared to leave for college. College was uncharted territory, and oozed with the promise of adventure. Going to obtain a degree was my escape from the drudgery of high school and my chance to not only become enlightened but have the opportunity to enlighten others. I was bursting with anticipation and joy for what awaited me. Likewise, I am dizzy with unbridled enthusiasm as I prepare to study abroad. The United Kingdom is uncharted territory as well, and it holds in store many wondrous customs and history that I yearn to experience. Leaving to go abroad has ironically enough become my escape from college, and hopefully will allow me to gain new perspectives on life and become a cosmopolitan. I desire to not just encounter haggis, bagpipes, and gingers, but to also encounter philosophers, travelers, and the timeless history of Scotland around every street corner. Though I will miss my friends and family, it is with a bright outlook that I anticipate my study abroad and say goodbye to the items and environments that I have called home for so long. Farewell family; farewell loved ones and friends; farewell driving on the right side of the road; farewell Southern accents, farewell Southern cooking, and farewell sweet home Alabama.