Pre-Departure Thoughts

This post is mostly for myself, but hopefully this can benefit somebody else. Before I embark on my solo journey studying abroad, I wanted to quickly reflect on how I’m feeling.

Which, at this point, it doesn’t feel like anything is actually happening. Maybe this is just my average depressed mood that rarely goes above or below a certain mediocrity. I know at some random moment, whether that’s waiting in my terminal or going to my Canadian hotel for the night or actually going to my new school, but it will come.

Personally, I have never flown or navigating through an airport alone. Heck, I’ve only driven from my college to my hometown alone when it comes to travel. I overthink everything, so in my head I roll through endless thoughts of scenarios where things can go wrong (thanks, anxiety). As someone who is known for toting how independent I am, this is the true test to that. I feel that’s a reasonable task to ask of a twenty-year-old, but I still freak out slightly. Despite any doubts and fears I might have, I’m ready for the challenge.

Ever since first traveling, I have loved it, and this is no different. In fact, I haven’t gone a bigger trip like this one for quite a while. Whenever people have asked me where I’m going, probably expecting an exotic answer of a fancy European city, replying with “Canada” seems anticlimactic. Sure, the culture is probably quite similar to American life, but I still see it as a grand adventure. Also, the location is quite appropriate as I “escape” the United States before a new president in inaugurated…

Through my different preparation required before I traveled abroad with my home campus, I had to attend several different meetings to discuss the nitty-gritty details, like making claims through travel insurance and currency. Most of those things I had already thought of, but something that caught my attention was the highs and lows students typically feel when abroad. After starting in on pure excitement, immersing yourself in a new culture and people, students often take a nosedive with homesickness.This will certainly be the longest span of time I’ve spent away from anybody I know. Any sort of communication will be strictly technologically based. Again, it’s another challenge to face.

And before I was planning my study abroad trip, I wasn’t exactly planning on leaving while in a relationship. I honestly never thought I would ever had to navigate a long-distance relationship. It’s obviously temporary, but before my own situation, I had always seen other long-distance couples and was in awe of how they’d be able to do it, saying “I could never do that.” But look at me, facing that fear head-on. And, surprisingly, I think I’ll be ready for it. Challenging, of course. It’s something that will truly test both of us, but we’re both strong people. We’re dedicating. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.

As you can see, the theme here seems to be the challenges I am finding and planning for. I’d rather be overly prepared than the opposite, but there are still cons to this mindset. Even just reading my own thoughts, ending everything with the tests and challenges can feel pessimistic. I see it differently. Rather than the testing rough terrain the word “challenge” implies, perhaps it is referring instead to an opportunity. Bountiful opportunities. This is a chance for me to really practice what I preach about the benefits of stepping outside of my comfort zone. I can see myself growing immensely as a person, coming back to the place I’ve spent my entire life with a new set of eyes, a broader perspective, new connections from across the continent.

This is a place nobody I know has been before. The one exception is a student also studying abroad through the same program, which I’m sure he’s gotten annoyed with the number of questions I’ve already asked him. Until now, I have lived in two towns, each of which I was under the shadow of others before me. I want to go somewhere nobody knows me. They have never heard my name before. That doesn’t mean I’m about to reinvent myself (I’ve taken long enough to figure who I am right now), but the identity I portray to others is completely new and “foreign” to them (pun intended). That’s quite exciting to me.

Heck, maybe I can actually become slightly fluent in speaking French since I’ll be in Quebec. The best way to learn a language is being directly surrounded by it. The idea is intimidating when all I’ve known is sitting in a classroom and reading a textbook, but I’m there to go to school and learn. So not only am I adapting to a new environment, I also have to adapt to a new school and potential curriculum and grading differences. I’m not paying a ridiculous amount of money to sit around looking at trees, that’s for sure.

Do I even need to mention that I’ll be in the land of Justin Trudeau? Enough said there.

Well, with all of that said and out in the open, off I go. I cannot wait for the experiences that await me, and you’ll certainly hear about it.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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