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Pre-Departure: How I Feel Before Leaving to Study Abroad

by Meredith McLaurin
Pre-Departure: How I Feel Before Leaving to Study Abroad | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in Rome, Italy

21 days until I leave for the adventure of, quite possibly, my lifetime. Sounds exciting, right? It is, but there are also so many pre-departure emotions that I am feeling before leaving to study abroad — some that I know people wouldn’t typically expect me to be feeling.

Fear, excitement, anxiousness, happiness, and a bittersweet feeling reside inside of me. I know I am not the only person who is experiencing these, but I don’t think they’re talked about as much as they could be.

Fear of the Unknown

I am about to leave the comfortable life I have here in the United States for a new home abroad. I always thought of fear as a bad thing. It’s a word we only use to describe bad feelings, but for me in this point of my life it’s a feeling that I enjoy, it keeps me on my toes and at the edge of my seat. Why? Because my life is about to become so much more. More exciting, more fulfilling, and something that will make me so much HAPPIER to be alive. My fear of the unknown rests easy knowing that it is for an adventure. Being a little fearful makes me want to take more chances.

Anxious Excitement

Excitement and my anxiousness seem to go together. My excitement keeps me up at night Pinteresting new ideas about how to make the most of my experience, while my anxiousness keeps me up thinking about how my friends at school in Mississippi will make new memories without me. There are so many possibilities.

Happiness and that Bittersweet Something

Happiness and the no-named bittersweet feeling I am feeling go together, as well. I feel joy and happiness when I think about finally starting this new chapter of my life in Italy. At the same time, there’s this bittersweet feeling of leaving my family, friends, dog, and countless others to make my own new memories. The reality is this: I am going to come back changed, they will also change as well. The life I have in the United States does not pause as a I start a new one  half-way around the world.

I don’t know what is going to happen while I am going here or there. I can’t say that my friends won’t forget me a little; I can’t say that I won’t come back and not stop talking about my European adventures; but I can say that this experience is worth all of the world and then some. When I come back, I know my friends at home will still be my friends, my family still my family, and my dog will still be my little girl. I anticipate we will all be different than we were the last time we all will have been together. But, that’s the point of spontaneity and adventure: to become more passionate about the life you live and the world around you.

Rome, I am so ready for you.

This post was contributed by Meredith McLaurin, who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Rome, Italy.

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