In three days I am going to hop on a giant robotic bird and fly over an ocean to a country – sorry a continent – sorry, A HEMISPHERE I have never been in before. However, I don’t feel incredibly nervous, only incredibly excited to be studying abroad. Firstly, I love robotic birds (or as most people call them: planes) so the whole flying thing is actually something to look forward to.
The new hemisphere is more of the nervous part. I apologize for jumping right into the action, this story does have a beginning, where I shall return to in order to tell you how I arrived at this situation.
About a year ago I had a really long study hall. Actually, by school standards it was an average sized period, however it was right before a very big pre-calc test so I was suppose to be studying. But, like any teenager I didn’t want to be studying, so I started brainstorming ways to not be in this situation: A way to achieve new and great things while not staring at messy notes and beat up textbooks.
That’s when the idea of studying abroad hit me.
Things did not become solid overnight; for a while it was an abstract idea. I decided very early on that my destination (if there was going to be one) was going to be Spain. There were hours of convincing my grandparents and mom that sending me away for nearly five months was, in fact, a good idea.
There were meetings with guidance counselors , paperwork, talking to teachers. Then I had to pick a program to travel though. I decided on Greenheart Travel and crossed my fingers that they weren’t going to take my money and disappear. Then the entire application process that, despite being simple, still filled me with anticipation.
Until finally the beautiful day came when I got acceptance information. Even better than being accepted was finding out who my host family would be (which I did in October). After that our e-mail exchanges became very valuable to me.
Now, I don’t want this to be read wrong. I did NOT decide to study abroad to get out of future math tests. I chose to go abroad to learn more this pale blue dot that we live on. I’ve always had this love for learning that seems like it cannot be clenched. It doesn’t end in the classroom. It follows me into public while I interact with strangers and listen to what they have to teach me.
It follows me in my spare time while I read biographies and autobiographies. It follows me while I take pictures and teach kids how to do it themselves. It follows me into the darkroom as I experiment with making images appear on paper. My curiosity has followed me as I read book after book about Spain and practice speaking Spanish everyday.
That curiosity is following me abroad too. Luckily, it doesn’t weigh much because my suitcase is already packed pretty full. I’m excited to learn about the culture and the people who make it up. I’m excited to learn more of the language and history. Most of all I’m excited to have this opportunity to learn.
Which brings me back to today. I am merely days away from leaving. I’m saying goodbye to everyone and packing everything up. (Living in Maine, we did just get a huge blizzard so I’m also shoveling a lot). My room is empty as if it’s not mine at all and all the things I’m bringing are packed.
It’s not a painless transition- I keep trying to explain to my siblings (ages 3, 5 and 6) that I won’t be around but it’s just over their level. Being a junior, when I return to my high school in the fall, all of the seniors won’t be there, so I’m saying goodbye to them as well.
As I set off on this adventure I feel a lot like an astronaut going to space. Yes, I’ll be gone for a while and I won’t see family and friends, in fact I won’t even speak to them often. I’ll be far away from home in a foreign land. But, just like how an astronaut always has a radio home and back up engines for support, so do I.
Each step of the journey I know everyone will be there rooting for me, there to back me up, from my host family to my birth family. And with this knowledge, in a few days I’ll be able to buckle up in my plane seat and not feel the weight of nervousness on my shoulders, only the flutters of excitement.