As I’m writing this, my hometown in Pennsylvania is 25°F (-3.88°C) and covered in snow. I’m bracing myself against the cold, and it’s hard to believe that in exactly four days (!!) , I’ll be on the beaches of Australia, beginning my semester-long journey in Sydney. I’ll be trading in my sweaters for t-shirts, and putting away my trusty winter boots for sandals, which have been hiding in the back of my closet since September. This transition from the cold of the Northeast to the summery, 80-degree weather of the coastal basin feels as far away as summer, but it’s just around the corner. I can’t help but question myself: am I ready?
Physically, I’m definitely not ready. I’ve gotten around to making packing lists and consolidating some of the clothes I want to take along. However, the suitcases are still empty. The only problem I anticipate is whether or not my suitcases will make the luggage weight maximum.
Logistically, I’m pretty prepared. My study abroad program, Arcadia University - University of New South Wales, has been very helpful and efficient with communicating with me the necessary things I need to do before leaving the country. They’ve been sending out detailed emails with pre-departure information, a travel guide, and last minute reminders. In addition to their help, I have a running Google Doc where I’ve been compiling suggestions I’ve received from friends, family, and Pinterest about things to do and places to travel within Australia.
Mentally and emotionally... that’s a different story that can’t really be conveyed in checklist form. I’ll be honest I’m quite nervous about leaving the comfort of the familiar to live in a place I’ve only seen pictures of and read about. This anticipation is kind of like that feeling you get when you’re standing on the edge of a diving board. Your toes are peaking over edge, you see the water below, and there’s this tug in your stomach urging you to jump. That tug, though, is also a bundle of nerves and anxieties— you really want to swim, but you know you’re going to have to jump first. There’s no way to avoid how cold it will be until your body adjusts. It’s all exhilarating, yet terrifying all at once.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited to finally venture off into the city I’ve been thinking about since I started planning this semester a whole year ago! While fear may be present right now, there is too much at stake to give into it. The adrenaline is pumping. I want to jump.
And though the initial shock of jumping may wear off, I don’t want to forget the feeling. I’m not traveling miles upon miles to fall into complacency. The next five months are about pushing myself to experience new and fresh things and to learn in a way I’ve never been able to before! It may sound a bit idealistic, but hey, this is what studying abroad is all about, and I am so excited to see what I come across.
Checklists: Physically? I’ll get there. Logistically? I’m over prepared. And mentally and emotionally? I know I’m ready.