I woke up today ready to start packing my bags. My mind is scrolling through tens of checklists in my head of what I’ve forgotten to pack. I know that everything I will ever need I could buy there but I’m plagued by a series of “what ifs”.
I will be sharing my separation letter with my parents two nights before I leave at our final family dinner. Will they really be ready for their only daughter to be gone for five whole months? Will they be ready for her to come back a new person? After all, my parents have lived in this house, in this neighborhood for 25 years. They have a life so set in stone. I think that I’ve adequately prepared them with the amount that I’ve talked about it but are they ever truly going to be ready? Am I ever going to be ready?
I’ve shared my letter. They’ve understood the message that I needed to get across to them which really hit them when they read the quote I included. It was one that struck me during the workshop. “In order to make fair and illuminating comparisons between cultures, we must temporarily suspend our largely inherited values and beliefs without flaunting or renouncing them… we must be able to think new and old thoughts, to experience new and old emotions… at a minimum, that we will have learned to adjust our own behavior so it doesn’t unsettle, confuse, or offend others”. (Slimbach, pg. 164) They pointed out to me as I’ve journeyed through college, I’ve already changed as a person for the better and that this is simply the next step.
In the last few days I’ve been meeting up with every friend I can- friends from home, at school, long distance, everyone. I’ve been saying my goodbyes, getting my life in order so that I can have five months stress free in my new home. My internship is set, I have a house lined up for the coming school year, and my classes are set up for one last glorious year at Quinnipiac. All my i’s are dotted and my t’s crossed. I, the ultimate planner, had planned everything. But now I just feel uneasy, like there’s latent energy waiting to bound onto a new project.
It seems to me that becoming an adult leads a person to develop a set routine- finding a place to live, a steady job, a supportive partner, stable family; yet I’m about to break from that mold to do anything that comes my way. I’ve been trained for routines since I was a toddler but now I’m going to do everything in my power to stop a routine as soon as I see it forming. I want life to be new and exciting when I’m abroad, not anything that I am used to. Sure, there will be some things that are routine such as my classes and my weekly phone call with my mother. But the rest will be up to fate and that, I am ready to accept.
If I can come back from this trip being able to talk about all the things I did that I would have never expected to do before, it will be a success. I want to walk the streets of London and notice the small things that will separate my experience from a normal tourist. I don’t want to come back and say that I saw all the sites, I want to show people sites that they’ve never even heard about.
And so I begin. Here in my room I try to make sense of the mound of stuff laid out on my bed and figuring out how it will all fit in my suitcases and picture along the way what adventure I will be on when I am next wearing these clothes.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.