Getting ready for such an incredible adventure is difficult. There’s the planning: what to pack and what should be left behind, making sure all the electronics you want to take are compatible with the UK power system – plus making sure you have plug-in adapters and voltage converters for the electronics that aren’t compatible. There is also all the paperwork and pre-departure literature to go over, making sure that everything is turned in to your home university, to IFSA-Butler, and to your host university, and attending any necessary meetings with your advisers and coordinators.
It’s hectic, but exhilarating. All the preparations remind you daily that you’re getting ready to start this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. With those constant reminders, you also start to feel the impending separation from your family and friends.
My home university of Saint Martin’s in Washington is an hour drive away from my parents and less than that for most of my friends and many other members of my family. I see my parents almost every weekend, and knowing that I’m not going to see them in person for the next 3 months is a little daunting. There are ways to compensate though. My parents and I have set up Skype accounts on our computers and, once I get a feeling for my schedule in England, we’re going to set up a time to talk frequently with video chat. I’ve also gotten a texting app that will allow me to still text my family and friends regularly.
With all the news stories and movies (like Taken with Liam Neeson), my parents were apprehensive about me going overseas without someone to look after me. The materials that IFSA-Butler sent us helped tremendously to allay their fears. Knowing that there are lots of staff that check up on us regularly, both academically and physically, made them feel much more comfortable with my traveling.