With less than three days remaining before study abroad, it seems time to introduce myself! My name is Amanda, I am 20 years old and I am currently in my third year at Soka University of America (SUA). While my university is situated in Southern California, my home is actually about 3,000 miles away in Massachusetts, and I have been bouncing back and forth across the country since the summer of 2014. Sure, being away from home and family the majority of the past few years may have prepared me for study abroad to an extent, but somehow, this semester away in particular feels like it could be very, very different. Read More »
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My plane leaves for Auckland, New Zealand in less than 24 hours.
Am I finished packing? Nope.
Do I have all the documents I need in a neat little pile? Of course not.
Do I know what to do with my phone when I get there? Not really.
Honestly, the only thing I really have going for me in terms of preparedness is that my Chacos just arrived in the mail. And you know what? I’m not worried about it.
One of my closest friends spent last semester studying in Wollongong, Australia, and she’s been my go-to girl for study-abroad related questions. Earlier this week I texted her in a moment of panic, convinced that I am going to show up to New Zealand and be totally lost, lugging around two suitcases full of nothing that I actually need. And the only piece of advice she had for me was,
“That’s part of the adventure. It’s no fun to be over-prepared.”
So I’m sitting here in my chaotically messy bedroom with a half-full suitcase and I know that if I left right now, I would be laughably under-prepared for a semester abroad. Not just because all my socks are still in the laundry, or because I can’t find an umbrella in the house to save my life, but also because I have no idea what to expect out of the next five months. And when Ellen told me that it’s not the end of the world to show up to a new country unprepared – that it may actually make my experience more memorable – I embraced my nerves and my anticipation for the upcoming semester. As far as “stuff” goes, I can always find a Target (or whatever the New Zealand equivalent of a Target is) and pick up what I need. But for me, the most important thing is to be mentally prepared to show up unprepared and take on the adventure of studying abroad.
Today has been a mix of every emotion from aching sadness to nervous excitement to an eerie calm. With my bags packed, goodbyes said, and tears fallen, I feel prepared. There’s nothing left to do now but get a good night’s sleep and take a leap of faith into the unknown. My excitement has faded as reality has hit that tomorrow is the day I’ve been waiting for for the past 5 months. Now I’ll be spending that amount of time in another country at another university in another language. And I’ve never felt more ready for it than I do right now.
I wake to tiny flickering lights tens of thousands of feet below me; a warm glow reflecting off the oval window pane and into my eager eyes. I’ve always loved flying, ever since I was a little kid. Christmas flights to Nana’s house in Arizona were arguably something I looked forward to more than the holiday itself (shh, don’t tell Nana that). I loved the people watching in the airport, the order and poise of the flight attendants — rulers of their own little, tight-squeezed floating worlds — the dainty plane snacks, and the chance to have a Shirley Temple, which was always quite the treat in my household. But mostly, what I loved and continue to love is the perspective one gets from hurtling hundreds of miles an hour, soaring high above the world. The moment when everything I know to be true vanishes into indistinguishable dots and I realize how small everything actually is, and in turn, how small I actually am — I live for that moment.
The lights now dancing in my eyes make up the city of Miami, where I’ll be staying the night before leaving for a semester abroad in [drumroll………………..] Havana, Cuba. The most common question I get when I tell people that is “Why? Why Cuba?” There are lots of easy answers I sometimes choose to respond with: as an International Politics and Economics major with a minor in Global Health, I really have nowhere better to explore my interests than a country with a very complicated and unique political and economic history and one of the best public healthcare systems in the world; I want a host family and a challenge with language, not a semester of partying in Spain where I would no-doubt speak English in my apartment with my friends; I need to study abroad somewhere where the semesters align with my Middlebury semesters, as I have that important end-all-be-all-almighty-determiner-of-future-junior-summer internship, meaning that while I adore Chile, that’s out of the question; etc. But in reality, I have chosen Cuba for the same reason I enjoy flying: I chose the experience that I believed would provide me with the most drastic change in perspective. I want to remember how tiny I am in this world, but how capable I am at the same time, how different viewpoints change the way history, policy, and social norms are perceived and taught, and how real human connections, not the wifi connection on my iPhone, are what matter most in this world. Alas, Cuba. Read More »
Fall semester came and went faster than I could blink. I told myself that I would not focus on studying abroad so that I could enjoy the fall semester! Once the semester ended, I decided to wait until after Christmas before focusing on study abroad. Since most of my gifts were focused around travel, I was forced to think about the drastic change that’s going to happen in my life. I started to think about the fact that I need to try and see everybody before I left. My schedule began to fill up. Looking back, I think I only had one day where I didn’t have plans with somebody or some type of appointment. Part of me wishes that I would’ve had more days to myself, but in the long run I’m happy that I was able to say goodbye before I left. In some ways it was easier to cope with leaving since I was able to see everybody!
I have traveled internationally for my whole life, but I’ve never done it alone. Something just seemed so ominous about doing it all on my own. Nobody to watch my things if I need to go to the restroom or quickly buy something to eat. There will also be nobody to comfort me if I get stressed out. There’s something about being with my parents that makes me feel safer. Even if they’re in an airport they’ve never been to it’s like they know their way around. I’m going to airports that are quite large and I’ve never been to them! I’m hoping that I can navigate my way through effectively.
Even though these thoughts go through my head I know that studying abroad is the right choice. I know that even though everything before seems scary it will be worth it in the end! I’m excited and ready to start my adventure abroad!
It’s still a little hard to imagine that at this time in a month, I will be settled in a foreign country, where I expect to spend the entire semester!!
These past few days have been filled with pandemonium than the typical doldrums of summer, and I am both terrified and excited as I hope to begin this next chapter in my life.
As the departure date for my trip halfway across the world, to Sydney, Australia, approaches T-9 days, the reality of my journey has begun to resonate with me. It feels like just yesterday I was an eager freshman visiting the Wake Forest University Study Abroad office discussing the opportunity. I was already fortunate enough to have explored Europe on two separate occasions, and as I narrowed down my choices I couldn’t get the hundreds of iconic pictures of Australian beaches, wildlife, and cities pinned to my “Bucket List” Pinterest board out of my head. I immediately knew I couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience ” the land down under” for myself. Read More »
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.
9, 682 miles. Tomorrow that will be the furthest I have ever been from home. 18 minutes, 37 seconds, and my order from my favorite Indian joint will be here. 9 loving and sincerely freaked out adults that are even less ready for me to be over 9000 miles away for 5 months than I am. 1 night. I have 1 night left before I leave Atlanta, cross the Pacific Ocean, and begin my study abroad adventure in Melbourne, Australia
Now the obligatory “this is me” section. My name is Danielle. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. I am a Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology major at Emory University. I play rugby, perform in musicals, and I am a huge nerd – evidenced by my love of all things Harry Potter, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. And I’ve always wanted to travel the globe.
Like I said, I leave tomorrow to study abroad; the first stop on my lifetime world tour of the….well, world. It’s weird but the realest part of the whole thing is the 24+ hours I’ll be spending in the air (or in airports). What I’m really excited for is, well the reason I chose to study abroad in Australia, the research opportunity. I will be working in Dr. Heather Young’s lab. My focus will be on neural crest cell development in the enteric nervous system. I am beyond excited to work in the lab and to get a taste of research outside of the U.S.
My journey begins with my first stop: L.A. I’ve never been to California, and it’s bittersweet that my first time there I won’t see anything outside of the airport. My dad says that doesn’t count. I’m tempted to agree with him… But there I will meet up with my fellow study abroad students. And prepare for the long flight. But hey, there’s ocean views right?
After L.A., I begin the 16 hour flight to Sydney (well 16 hours before the “super-fun” delays airports are known for). But I’ve stocked up on reading materials: Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, Return of the King from the Lord of the Rings series, and Neuromancer by William Gibson. I also have my Rubik’s Cube (remember that nerd thing I mentioned earlier?) not to mention the almost 50 hours of music I have at my fingertips. Hopefully that will get me through the time I don’t plan on sleeping, because I am the worst at being bored. Maybe that’s why the insanely long time in the air is what feels like reality. The five months in a new country still feels so far away.
But no. It’s so close. In a a little over 24 hours, I’ll be in Sydney getting over jet lag and taking touristy pictures of the Sydney Opera House. I’ll be there for 4 days. They’ve got quite a line-up for us: walking and harbor tours of the city, a pub dinner, and (what I am most excited for) a trip to Featherdale Wildlife Park in the Sydney Zoo.
Then it’s another flight. Luckily it’s the last one for a while. This one takes me to my final destination – Melbourne – for three more weeks of orientation. And as a hard-core night owl, the 8:30 am sessions are going to be…. really, really hard. Step one when landing in Melbourne: find the nearest coffee shop.
Well, I look forward to blogging with you over the next 140 days! See you next week.
Here it is, my first post on this blog. I have been talking about writing this post for over a month, but somehow I am here writing it as I wait for my flight. Even now as I sit here in my hiking boots typing this post, going abroad doesn’t seem “real” yet. Studying abroad for Spanish is one of my life goals, and now it is almost here, as in a few hours away. Enough reflection though, let’s get to the logistics!
For packing I brought a personal item (backpack) and a small checked bag. My checked bag weighed in at 38.6 pounds. I will include a packing list and what I wish I would have packed different towards the end of the experience, right now my guess of what to pack is as good as yours! Read More »
5, the amount of months I’ll be away from home.
50, the amount in pounds I’m allowed to pack in my checked bag.
It’s midnight Monday morning and I have finally finished packing. It took me and my mom a few tries and a break for dinner to finally fit everything thing I think I need for five months in to 3 bags. Pictures are in the gallery! (I need to figure out how to add to post!) Over the past few days the realization of my decision to study in the UAE has really sunk in.
A few things about myself before I begin my adventure
- My name is Tom Fisher, I’m from Bettendorf, Iowa (part of the Quad Cities, right on the Mississippi River).
- I go to Drake University, a small (4,000 undergrad) liberal arts school in Des Moines, IA.
- Hobbies are soccer, cycling, watching documentaries and eating.
More to come when I can intertwine them with what I am doing during the semester.
The adventure will begin in London. I will be staying with a friend until Saturday when I fly to Dubai! I will have another post before that adventure comes to an end
I hope to keep you entertained and coming back for more. I look forward to sharing my experiences and thoughts during this semester.
I’m Susannah – I’m 20 years old, and I’m junior studying music at Saint Martin’s University. It’s a really small university located in the town of Lacey, Washington – about ten minutes from the state capital. I spend most of my spare time drinking coffee at Beth’s cafe in Seattle; I also love to bake cookies and hang out with my little sister, Allie.
Honestly, I still can’t believe this is actually happening. I’m so excited and nervous to go to Buenos Aires. I am nervous to leave everything I have grown accustomed to, but I know that Beth’s and my friends will be here waiting for me when I get back. I’m also really worried about the language barrier, but what better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in it, right? (At least that’s what I keep telling myself!)
One of the questions I get asked most frequently is “Why Argentina?” I’ve actually wanted to go to Argentina since I was really young. It may seem kind of silly, but what originally inspired my desire to go to Argentina was watching the musical Evita. Ever since then, I have been enthralled by Eva Peron and Argentinean culture. I am so excited to get to experience the culture firsthand. Some of the things I’m looking forward to are seeing Iguazu Falls, going to the Lujan zoo, and possibly going bungee jumping and/or skydiving!
I’m so excited to see what adventures this semester holds, and I am excited to tell you guys all about them!
First off I’d like to welcome you to this blog. Here I will lead readers through a whole semester of my studies in Brisbane, Australia. On the surface, readers can expect pictures of beautiful scenery as well as (hopefully) eloquent encapsulations of my travels and experiences. However, follow this blog closely and readers can expect to be transported into the Australian experience. Now I’m obviously not exactly sure what that experience will entail, but by following this blog one will meet intriguing Australians, taste unique cuisines, travel to distant lands, and learn things they would have never though they’d learn of.
I would like to achieve more than just creating a document of a trip, what I would like to do is join two worlds. I want people following my travels to live what I’m living and understand a totally different culture through my eyes. To do this, I would as that if you find yourself reading this blog, that you let me know and keep in touch through comments or by other means of contact. Ask questions, request photos, give me ideas, and most of all enjoy the experience.
I will depart in the middle of February. Until then, feel free to contact me with your experiences in Australia or other parts of the world. I’m incredibly excited to head down under and I hope that, by following this blog, you enjoy the journey as much as I can.
I would have been more prompt with my pre-departure send off but, as with all things in life, that did not go as planned.
My laptop got badly hacked last week so it was out of commission and I also just turned 21 and appropriately celebrated in Vegas for which I was out of commission as well.
These last few weeks have been a combination of excitement, hesitation and overall impatience to go and start my experience abroad. Saying my good-byes have been the worst part of it (and figuring out money). Ugh, being an adult is not so fun sometimes but, everyone has always told me that the preparation is the most irritating part of this whole process.
I am just glad that I found time to write before I leave bright and early at 5am from LAX! But for now I have a farewell dinner to get to with family and friends.
The next time I write I’ll be in the UK!
Until then, I am frantically doing last minute packing (Yay procrastination!)
The prospect of having that last negative pre-departure blog post being my only pre-departure blog post left something of a sour taste in my mouth, so I’ve decided to have another go.
And I especially thought I’d have another go because I just packed my suitcase for the first time! (I say first because I know my mom will have me unpack it when we wake up; it’s inevitable, really.) It’s 2:30 AM here on the East Coast in Central Pennsylvania and my suitcase is literally sitting packed in my living room. And it feels really good, deliciously peaceful after the last few stressful days. I think packing this time around has generally been easier than the last times I went to Europe—when you’re only travelling for two weeks, it feels like you really need to have everything because you won’t have time to shop if you’ve forgotten something, but because I’ll be living in Israel for over 4 months, my mom and I have agreed on the things I should bring over and the things I should just buy there, and that’s made this entire process so much easier as a whole. It’s nice having a lot of things I don’t need to stress over because I know I’ll be able to purchase them when I’m living there.
I’ve got a lot of basics packed: the three shorts I wear the most, a pair of jeans, and six plain shirts, as well as a Hogwarts shirt I couldn’t pass up, and I’ll be wearing a Susquehanna shirt and sweatpants on the plane. Two flats are on the bottom of my suitcase, as well as shower shoes/beach shoes and my bathing suit (!!!). A few dresses and cardigans are squeezed in, too, with my Susquehanna sweatshirt front and center. I’ve probably got three lifetime supplies of underwear and socks crammed in the corners as well.
I remember when I went to the first Accepted Students orientation at Susquehanna University. They gave us a free shirt (a sign of things to come: I’ve gotten three more since I’ve been a student) and on the front was the name of the university; on the back it said “Ready to GO?” as our university requires that every student spend a period of time abroad, and the program that organizes the trips is called Global Opportunities. I remember reading the back of that shirt with pride, excitement, and a dash of fear.
I’m ready to answer that question now.
Yes, Susquehanna. I’m so ready to go!
As terrifically as I’d like to say otherwise, this entire pre-departure process has been a living nightmare, and I am eagerly, emotionally, and almost literally, counting down the days until I finally board the plane and leave.
Sadly, my experience with the American branch of the Rothberg Institute has been headache-inducing, which is partially my own family’s fault but partially the Institute’s fault. Earlier this month, they held a required meeting/Q&A session for students in their New York City office. There was an option to phone in. I’m from Central Pennsylvania, which is not too far from NYC, so while I told my parents I’d like to just phone in and avoid the hassle, my parents thought a trip to New York would be nice. Except we managed to cram about 6 crucially bad mistakes in a 4 hour time slot and wound up late and soaking wet to the meeting. By the time we arrived, we had missed a good chunk of the meeting. But it was nice to put names to faces, and we got to ask a few questions that we’d been chewing on (My Question: will there be much interaction between Israeli students and international students? Answer: not really. My mom then needed clarification on what was meant when it was stated that the school would shut down for holidays—she thought that included dorms, too). All in all, the informational section of the meeting took about an hour, even though they’d told us it would last around two. We then were given some light Israeli food and time to chit chat with the other people there.
The food was delicious, hummus and falafel and pita with plenty of dips, but there were, outside of myself, five other students at the meeting. I’d been so excited to meet some of the people I’d be with—but only met so few! They were all so nice, but it felt as though they were on an entirely different level than myself: much more sure, much more dedicated. We’d nearly gotten lost in New York to listen to information that was later emailed to us, and to chat with a few people I didn’t connect with! It was a nightmare.
Now, a few days later, I’m looking over the email they sent us as well as the documents, and I can see that part of the meeting we missed discussed how to obtain a visa. This intrigued me, as I’d emailed a few people in early June asking when I should start my application; the response was, “We’ll go over that later.” And now, I find out that the instructions they’ve given me are really just, “go and get your visa”! Incredible—I’ve got 12 days until my flight out, and I have to somehow figure out a way to get to the Israeli consulate in Philadelphia, the closest one to my hometown. I’m not sure how long it takes to get a visa, but I imagine it has to be longer than 12 days. And I could have finished this two months ago!
I’m also feeling very overwhelmed, as not only do I have to cram in more official paperwork in the next week and a half, but it’s also starting to hit me how much money I’ll be spending when I’m abroad. As there is no food plan included in tuition costs, I know that much of my savings will go to that—the kicker is that, while I’ll probably be living in a suite-style apartment, it won’t come stocked with cooking utensils! There’s more money I have to fret over! Plus, the costs of a phone plan, bedding, travelling within the country and shopping for toiletries as well as other necessities—I have such a headache and I’m not even close to being done with everything!
Overall, I’m extremely disappointed with this process and the way most of it has turned out—that much of the actual planning and doing is only coming down to crunch time, when much of this could have been announced throughout the summer. Part of me feels that if I’d known it would be this intense, this complicated, I would’ve chosen another program—but I never would have known about this stress if I hadn’t chosen this program, anyway. On a brighter side, my desire to study in Israel is much stronger and deeper than this superficial stress and paperwork—my desire to see a new country, to experience a completely different way of life, will definitely shine through the second I take my seat on the plane. I have my three classes picked out (Continuity and Change in Modern Jewish History: The Last 200 Years; Hasidism: From Mystic Fraternity to Reactionary Movement; and Issues in Israeli Society) although I won’t officially know what I’m taking until I get there. I’ve got a general idea of the clothes I’m going to pack and the clothes I still need to buy. And I’ve just about seen all the people from I wanted to see before I leave.
So, I’m still excited. But, overwhelmingly, I’m disappointed and aggravated at what this process has been like. Pre-departure has not been my friend.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “The measure of a man is his material possessions.” Instead of wasting time studying grammar, expanding my vocabulary, or reading about Costa Rican culture, I spent much of my pre-departure weeks writing packing lists, buying things missing from those lists, and, finally, packing.
This is what I came up with:
- Hiking boots
- Black ankle socks (9 pair)
- Hiking socks (2 pair)
- Dress socks (1 pair)
- Jeans (2)
- Casual khakis
- Lightweight synthetic khakis (outdoor or formal)
- Lightweight synthetic cargo zip-off
- Canvas pants
- Dark green cargo
- Khaki non cargo
- Athletic shorts (running, swimming, pajamas) (2)
- Rain pants
- Boxer briefs (9)
- Leather belt
- Synthetic belt
- White short-sleeved dress shirt
- Short-sleeved casual button-down shirts (4)
- Cotton T-shirts without words written on them (4)
- Synth athletic shirts:
- Long-sleeved outdoor work shirt
- Hair ties (2)
- Goggles (1)
- Bandanas (2)
- Wash cloth
- Nail clippers
- Small roll of toilet paper in a ziploc bag
- Prescriptions for everything
- Medical ID bracelet
- Glasses and case
- Backup glasses and case
- Cases (3)
- Storage solution
- Eye drops
- Little swiss army knife
- Wound dressing
- Daytime cold medicine
- Nighttime cold medicine
- Cough medicine
- Sleeping medicine
- Medical tape
- Water-based lubricant
- Headlamp with batteries
- Earbuds (2)
- Carrying pouch
- USB flash drives (2)
- Extra memory cards (2)
- Carrying case
- Langenscheidt Universal Dictionary Spanish (2011)
- Manual de gramática (Iguina and Dozier, 2013)
- Rough Guide to Costa Rica (Drew and McNeil, 2011)
- Birds of Costa Rica (Garrigues and Dean, 2007)
- Mammals of Costa Rica (Waindwright, 2007)
- Naturalist (Wilson, 1994)
- Beaded headband for keychain
- Money belt
- Hand scale for weighing baggage
- Passport card
- Copies of passport (2)
- e-ticket confirmations
- Hard copy of contact info: physician, college advisors, IFSA program advisor, IFSA resident director
- Details of your insurance coverage
- Call United Healthcare to ask. Or just go online.
- ATM card
- Credit card
- Driver’s license
- Insurance cards
- Pens (7)
- Geologist’s loupe
- Plug adapter
- Pocket knife
- Cheap Leatherman-like multitool
- Pocket journal
- Specimen tags
- “Princess Mononoke” and “Last of the Mohicans” DVDs (to be used only in cases of extreme homesickness)
- Present for family: Goofily colored handbag with cheesy decorative dishcloth painted with historic images of Concord
The above fit into three bags: my school backpack (carried on as a “personal item”), my 30L Gregory “weekend pack” (carried on as my “carry-on bag”), and my 80L Gregory trekking pack (checked). It weighed in at a total of 65 pounds, of which I was insanely proud, as I often have trouble making the 50 pound limit for each checked bag.
So I promised that I would share my insight into packing and since this is my last pre-departure post I figured this would be the time.
The important thing to consider when packing is the climate you’re going to, especially when that climate is on the other side of the equator. Taking that into account is very important, it could mean the difference between packing 4 pairs of pants when in reality it’s going to be Summer there. Another thing I found helpful is to set everything outside of your suitcase at first so that you have a rather rough visual of how much stuff you have. I found it useful to start with about 10 days worth of clothes and then add or subtract as needed. I also suggest packing shoes with purpose. This meaning only pack shoes that 1. You know you will use and 2. serve a specific purpose (ie. Normal everyday shoes, sturdy shoes, etc.). This way you are cutting down on extraneous bulk in your luggage, which is important to take into account because you are more likely to have more stuff coming back then going there. So remember to keep as much space left. It’s also a good idea to try and pack anything in your checked luggage that might be searched on the top of your bag so that airline security doesn’t have to destroy your perfectly packed bag. Another good piece of advice is to listen to your study abroad program when they tell you what should go where, whether x item goes in y bag. That’s really all I can think of to help pack. It’s an odd experience packing up all of your clothes and knowing that the next time they are getting worn is in a different country.
The next post will be once I’ve arrived in Peru. I will also try to get some pictures to go along with it.
The purpose of a blog is not something I ever fully understood; the act seemed masturbatory, a production of oneself for oneself. The direction blogs tend to take are those of old anthropological travel writings, that is they are an emphasis of difference, and establishment of paradigms and binaries. In discovering the heart of both “us” and “them” the blogger is able to re-conceptualize the world, to carve out a space for spiritual growth not at the blogger’s expense but of the subject matter:
I grew up and I learned from them
The entire world is simplified in the face of the tremendous rebirth. Fictionalized stories would do just as well ––perhaps their effect would be even grander, left to the imagination of the blogger surely the tropes would be reified and the revelations more spectacular (not to mention the adventures). But do these stories, fact or fiction, have to be at the expense of others? WIll these sacrifices always be a bad thing? And does the blogger need to come away unscathed?
Chile is a distant visage whose whispers are tucked away in the violent winds of Chicagoland, a warm memory on the horizon. I’ll wander the streets here now, for Valpo is not present.
After what seems like the longest summer of my life, I present you all with my pre-departure blog! I’m so excited to go on this journey and have the opportunity to share it. So please watch and enjoy!
One thing I would like to add is in the video you’ll hear me talk about bringing ONE suitcase. You may ask how I can fit everything I need in one suitcase, my friends are still baffled by this as well, but I am doing Project333. Project333 is a minimalism challenge that only allows 33 pieces of clothing in 3 months!! I am only taking 23 over there initially because I’m bound to find 10 pieces over there that I want. The reason I wanted to share this is because I know when people travel for long amounts of time and only one suitcase, “they think how am I going to pack?” I wanted to see if I could do it so I’ll also keep you updated on how this project works out because where there’s a will there’s a way HA!
(PS. sorry for the glitch in the video…you know, technology isn’t perfect!)
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”-Dr. Seuss
Packing…oh my god I need to pack. I swear I don’t have any clothes…KOALAS! OH MY GOD!!! I GET TO MEET A KOALA!!! Oh crap…14 hour plane ride. IlovethebeachIlovethebeachIlovethebeach. 4 and a half months…that’s a realllyyyy long time to be away from home…and my friends…and my family…I GET TO BE IN AUSTRALIA TIL’ NOVEMBER!!!! Kangaroo burgers… Spiders….HUGE spiders…I won’t survive….
Exhilarating excitement. Consuming anticipation. Constant nervousness. Overwhelming anxiety. And my mind continues to race.
Hi! My name is Alysha. I’m a junior at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and I am studying biology. I’m a lover of science, the great outdoors, abstract art, traveling, mountain hiking, beach bumming, learning, discovering, great conversations and of course spending time with my family and friends. As I’m preparing for my semester abroad at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, I couldn’t help but parallel a number of my pre-departure feelings to the very popular and beloved “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Suess. The man was truly genius.
“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” –Dr. Seuss
It didn’t seem real. Having the opportunity to go abroad through Susquehanna University’s GO Program…filling out the applications last fall….getting accepted into the program…and finding I had approximately 60 days of summer at home before leaving for Australia at the conclusion of my spring semester sophomore year. In a little less than 2 weeks, I will find myself for the very first time in my life boarding a plane in Harrisburg, PA and heading off on an adventure….alone. No parents to guide me through the airports. No friends to joke with for the duration of trip. All of a sudden the trip of my dreams is starting to become the source of all my anxieties. Yes, I am, in fact, slightly terrified. I am on my own. This is the adult world at it’s very best.
“I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true and Hang-ups can happen to you.”-Dr. Seuss
I didn’t know exactly how I’d feel right before leaving. I talked to a bunch of friends a few months ago who had been abroad, and they all had different experiences. Some felt homesick right when they arrived, others it took a couple months. And yet, they all agreed that at times you would in fact be completely miserable adjusting to your new environment. Yet, in the end, they said the entire abroad experience was entirely life-changing and they’d go back in a heart-beat.
I think one of my friends said it best. He told me that studying abroad would be some of the best times of my life and also some of the worst times of my life. However, in the end, you would find out who you really are. In my mind, that’s truly invaluable. So, with this being said, I hold on to this idea as these weeks progress and I start having feelings of dread of being away from home and sadness in saying goodbye to my friends and family. I know, however, that being away from all the influences and normality will allow me to grow as an individual and find out more about my passions in life.
“All Alone! Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.” –Dr. Suess
I was so excited. For everything. Leaving. Being on my own. Being in AUSTRALIA. Finding out who I am. And then I remembered…. I’m leaving the only place I’ve ever really known. I won’t have the conveniences I’m used to having. And, most of all, the distance is cutting me off from the friends and family I know and love-well, except for the phone calls, Skype and emails (but we all really know it isn’t the same as being with the people you love). And this is where I start to panic. I have already begun to say my goodbyes to some of my closest friends and family. And as much as everyone tells me I will be able to make friends and not have any issues, I can’t help but think that at times I will feel completely alone in what I am going through.
“Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?” –Dr. Seuss
And yet, I know I have to do this. I’ve always wanted to do this. I have so much to look forward to and see and do. I mean, how many people get to say they were able to go abroad for a full semester and actually live in a new country for over four months? I know that I will have the time of my life. It’s truly just a matter of having confidence in myself to be on my own and to recognize that I am only temporarily leaving the life I’ve ever known to create new memories for myself. I truly feel like I can only gain positive things in my life from embarking on this trip. Australia, here I come!
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” –Dr. Seuss
I have only ever kept a journal/diary sporadically throughout grade school, writing about once every other year about my parents getting on my nerves or the latest boy band scandal. So this whole blogging thing is pretty new to me…
With that said, I hope something I say in this journey is useful/entertaining to one of my millions of fans. (haha…hopefully a couple people see this?) Or at least you get a laugh.
But going off of my subject line, I go to school in New Orleans; so, with one of my favorite Mardi Gras parades, Muses, kicking off the season last night, it’s definitely been heavy on my mind. My stepmom even made red beans and rice last night. yummm My friends have been telling me I’m crazy for leaving in the Spring, and I know exactly why, but that’s just the way it’s worked out. Either way I knew I wanted to go abroad. And after my potential Fall program fell through, I just sprang for it. in the Spring. hahaha (get my joke there?)
Bad puns aside, knowing all that I am missing in New Orleans right now is only making me more anxious and excited to actually BE in Argentina! I’ll admit, Spring in NOLA is a magical time of year: Greek pledging, Mardi Gras, Crawfest, magnolias blooming, live music on the quad every Friday, Relay for Life, Spring Break… Sometimes it seems like we don’t really go to class much in the Spring, especially with so many holiday breaks (yes, Mardi Gras is a break-worthy holiday) and having classes outside on the quad every other day.
But it was so weird being there during the semester without having to go to class. The only classes I went to were at the gym. But I can’t complain! I am grateful to have gotten that break because life at home in Arkansas has been making me a little stir-crazy.
One of my best friends from Tulane who just got back from her Fall semester in Buenos Aires has been beyond helpful in answering some of my ridiculous questions and calming some of my irrational fears. I was relieved to find out that I don’t have to be able to carry 4-5 months on my back. Packing is probably one of my biggest obstacles. I’m so good at talking myself into bringing the most useless things. So it has become kind of a ritual for my best friend from home to come over and talk me out of packing my whole closet. Luckily she goes to college close, so she’s coming home for the weekend to be my moral packing support.
I’ve been reading Don Quijote en español and watching every Argentine movie on Netflix’s insta-watch, but even as the days count down it’s still a little surreal. I am beyond ready to get there and start my adventures, but I know I’ve still got to cross all of my t’s and dot my i’s (and pack my giant suitcase that still doesn’t seem big enough).
Next Tuesday while all my friends are trying to make it to Zulu at the crack of dawn, I guess I’ll finally be more concerned about catching the Sube (I think that’s what the public transportation system is called?) than catching beads! Can’t wait!!
And I just started packing… TODAY. Not my best idea I must admit. When I studied abroad last fall in Grenoble, France, I was much more on top of things by this point. Although I’ve technically been on break from school for almost a month now, I’ve only been home for about a week and a half, so I feel a little like I’m playing catch-up. After weeks of family trips, vacation time with my girlfriends, and reveling in the unseasonably warm Fargo winter, I am about ready to start my new adventure in Bristol, England.
Even though I feel like I’ve done so much “research” and planning for the big move, it seems like I still have so much to do! Aside from packing, I just received my housing assignment from my IFSA-Butler advisor and information from the University of Bristol on registration and student life. It’s all quite a bit to take in at once. Especially as I have less than a week to go… (!!)
One of the more fun little projects I’m working on in preparation for English life is watching as much English TV and movies as possible, catching up on English news via the BBC, and reading Brit-Think, Ameri-Think, a “transatlantic survival guide” recommended to me by the IFSA-Butler London staff. It was a very quick read, but I would highly recommend it to anyone planning to travel, live, or study (or all three!) in the UK generally anytime in the near future. As far as English TV/movies go, I’ve recently watched Skins, a teen-drama that is actually set in Bristol (pretty cool), and A Hard Day’s Night, an very odd film about the Beatles. I’ll probably fit in another movie tonight and take a break from packing for a bit. Or I might read some of the pre-departure material I just received. Or both. The night is still young!