The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

Liesel Rutland University of Otago, New Zealand


February 4, 2019
Currently Studying at: University of Otago, New Zealand
Homeschool: Wofford College

The first thing you should know about me is that I am a planner. Ask anyone remotely close to me, if I'm doing anything at all, I've planned at least part of it already. It's no wonder then that I've been planning this trip since I entered college. Part of the reason I chose Wofford College was because of the opportunities it provided to its students to study abroad. Knowing this, I began planning how to fully take advantage of it. I met with our international programs staff my first semester of college, just to see my options. Deciding on New Zealand as my destination was the easiest decision I have ever made. I'd grown up seeing the scenery through The Lord of the Rings films and instantly fell in love with the idea of spending five months in the land of Middle Earth.

Now that the time has come to seriously begin packing and saying my final goodbyes, though, I find it quite difficult. I've never been a procrastinator, so my plans are in place, but it's just mentally difficult to wrap my head around the fact that in less than a week, I'll be in New Zealand. Completely independent, in a foreign country, free to do whatever I'd like. Obviously, I'll have the fabulous Arcadia staff to welcome me, (I've already had the greatest pleasure of meeting Jane in person!) but let's face it, I've never even been to summer camp, let alone another country. Going to college is the closest I've been to independence, and I know that I excelled in that respect, but some part of me still feels that childish fear and excitement of being on my own, away from parents, and able to make my own decisions. Like I said earlier, though, I am a planner. I planned for this fear and excitement. That is why I finished all of my paperwork, booked my flight, got my visa, and did all of the last minute things way earlier than anyone else. As soon as the materials were released, I was finished with them. I would encourage you to do the same thing if you are planning on studying abroad! Why let those forms and checklists pile up when you can save the future you a lot of headache and anxiety? Get them done early so that you can freak out later anyway!

Now, I say that I am nervous, but really, I am just incredibly prepared to leave. I have spent months researching and reading blogs, looking at pictures on my Instagram feed, and even speaking with people who have just come back from being abroad. My excitement level is through the roof! I have not let myself get excited because I did not want to wish my time away. My school has this thing called interim, where during the month of January, you take one three-hour class every day, and nothing else. My class was about breakdancing, and let me tell you, I had the most amazing time! I say that just to say that if I had been daydreaming about New Zealand during class, I would not have been able to live in the moment! So now that I am home, gearing up to say my final goodbyes, ready to pack my bags and leave, I am allowing myself to get excited.

It isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, saying goodbye. I really have not fully grasped the concept that I am not going to be at Wofford this semester. All of my friends have started their new classes already, and it is so weird being an hour away, yet not starting the semester with them. People keep telling me, “If I do not see you before you leave, have an awesome semester!” It is hard to say goodbye, and even harder realizing that for some people, like the seniors who will graduate well before I arrive back in the states, this may be the last time I will ever see them. But this is why living in the moment, and taking every single day as it comes, is the best mindset I can be in. I cannot dote on the “what if’s” and the uncertainty of it all. Life is uncertain. But I can definitely make the most of my time.

For now, I will be making my last minute runs to see my family. I am going to see my friends at Wofford one last time. And I will begin planning exactly what I am going to pack and how I will pack it. I have so much time on my hands now, and I am incredibly ready to be busy again. I have already had a Lord of the Rings marathon; I think a showing of the Hobbit movies is next on the list! Next time you hear from me, I will be packed and ready to board a plane. Bear with me; it’s going to be wild.

Kia ora,