Nervecitement in Miami
Like any great college student I waited until the last possible minute to do my work. What that means is I am currently sitting in the Miami airport in hour one of a ten-hour layover. Once those ten hours are up I will be flying to Lima, Peru, and I won’t be coming back to the states for over half a year. What comes to mind when I think about this time abroad is the word my sister invented directly before getting her first tattoo: nervecited. I absolutely feel both nervous and excited but most of all ready for an adventure.
A quick introduction for those who do not already know me: my name is Will and I am a student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Psychology and Spanish Literature. I will be traveling to Peru where I will be teaching English for five weeks through a program called AISEC. After that I will be in Valparaiso, Chile for five and a half months for a study abroad program. As an IFSA-Butler Blog Correspondent I will be writing blog posts at least once every two weeks. I’ll be writing about my experience abroad as a whole and specifically as a gay male and what gay culture is like in Arequipa and Valparaíso.
The weeks leading up to today have been filled with sleepless nights, endless frustration with the United States bureaucracy, and teary goodbyes (primarily with my dogs), but, even so, I don’t quite feel prepared. No matter how much packing, planning, or panicking goes into my pre-departure, I just don’t feel ready. This is primarily due to the fact that I’ve never experienced anything similar to what the next 6 months will entail. The longest I’ve been out of the States for is two weeks, and after tonight I won’t be back for 6 months. Even in the US, I’ve been quite localized. I grew up and went to a university all within a ten-mile radius. When I broke my foot first semester, my mom picked me up on her way home from work to take me to the doctor. This adventure is both terrifying and exhilarating. Admittedly, nervecited has a bit of a better ring to it than terrifilarated.
I find myself more nervous about not being able to drink the tap water than being discriminated against for my sexual orientation. Just like how I have never lived outside the NC Triangle, I have never experienced much discrimination. I feel extraordinarily lucky for that fact, but it would be naive of me to believe it doesn’t exist simply because I haven’t been affected. As a Catholic country, Chile has slightly more conservative views than liberal Chapel Hill, so I should be prepared for differing opinions. Again, this is something I don’t have much experience in and therefore can’t prepare myself that much.
My mind has been filled with a million thoughts and questions regarding this trip. Questions like, just how extreme of a height difference will there be between me and the native Chileans considering I’m 6’5”? What color are the walls painted in my host family’s house? Will I ever fully memorize the differences on when to use por o para even after 6 months speaking Spanish? Will those people sprinting by make it to their gate on time? I don’t have a good answer for most of these but that’s part of going abroad, isn’t it? To come back with answers, even to questions you didn’t even know you had. Except for the last one, on that one I’m pretty sure they’re SOL.
Despite all the unknowns, I can anticipate one thing for certain: this trip will open my eyes and change how I view the world. Terry Pratchett wrote, “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Looking back, it is easy to see the big moments that have shaped who I am today. I can see how the experiences formed by those I have loved, lost, and places I have been have altered how I view and act in the world. But right now, this is the first time in my life I can look forward and anticipate one of those moments. I can confidently say that when I step back in North Carolina on July 27th, I will have a different perspective on the world. But just like losing someone or falling in love, there’s nothing you can do to change it – it just keeps on coming. I am going to get on the plane, I am going to fly to Peru, and if everything goes according to plan, I am not going to come back until late July. I’m definitely feeling the nervecitement.
That’s it for now. Just a few more hours to kill before I board a plane to Lima. Wish me luck, this is it.