The closer we get to my departure date, the more unprepared I am beginning to feel. I am so excited for the opportunities that I will have in Australia, but I am really not looking forward to 24 hours of traveling. I have begun saying goodbye to people one by one—officially entering into the separation phase. I decided to write my separation letter to my roommates, as they are the people I have seen and/or talked to on a daily basis for the past two years. I was unsure of how to even start my letter at first, as it has not really set in that I will not be seeing them for five months. They were all very understanding, especially because I am not the first one in the group to go abroad. I felt relieved knowing that we all understood that I may not be in contact as much, but I will always be part of the “family”. I decided to share the following quote with my roommates to help illustrate the experience I hope to have: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land” –G. K. Chesterton. My roommates and I often reflect on how our experiences, big and small, have shaped our personalities. Thus I thought this would serve to illuminate how much these next few months will change the way I see the world.
In return, my roommates each gave me a few letters to provide some comfort when I am missing home. While I do not think that this will greatly hinder my separation, I do think that social media may make things more difficult. With multiple group chats between my roommates and other friends at school, I am worried that I may let myself get pulled too far into whatever is happening back at QU. Hopefully this will be easier to resist with the limited wifi availability in Australia. However, as my roommates discuss their plans for this semester in our group message, I do have a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). I know that my experiences in Australia might be more memorable than the tapestry they are buying for the common room wall, but it makes me a little sad that I will be missing out on five months of memories with my closest friends. I am sure (at least I hope), that this feeling will dissipate quickly when I am immersed in the culture and surrounded by new opportunities to make friends, travel, and learn new things. Slimbach argues that “although the potential for acquiring a truly global education has never been greater, actually achieving it requires more than simply ‘being there'” (7). I need to fully immerse myself to get the most out of this experience.
A successful experience this semester will mean I return with a new knowledge bank—not just from the classes I have taken but also from the places I have been, things I have seen, and people I have met. I hope to become more globally aware, especially of current events and politics. I hope to learn things about others and myself that will help me to be the best I can at the field I am pursuing. I also hope to make memories I can relay for years to come. I find it difficult to measure these types of successes, as there is certainly no ruler for this type of thing. Instead, I hope to return home with a feeling of contentment. With a comfort in the adult I am becoming, and a confidence in my future.
This past spring break, I attended an alternative break trip that I would certainly consider a Rite of Passage. One of my fellow attendees shared the quote in this image with me, and it has proven to be a valuable motto for many experiences since then. My type A self is slowly learning to expect the unexpected, and to enjoy organized chaos. I am hoping my resourcefulness will assist me in this feat. I will step on a plane in ten days with a suitcase full of clothing and no specific plans for the next five months. I have no idea what will happen when I step off that plane, and I am happily accepting this uncertainty—and any more that will follow. After all—“My entire life can be described in one sentence. It didn’t go as planned, and that’s okay”.