Reminiscing: T-96 hours until Spain

In honor of it being exactly one year (wow how time flies) since I flew from LAX – JFK – MAD, I’m looking back at the hours before that day. Everyone has to deal with their emotions right before departing. These were mine, 96 hours before I landed at the Madrid-Barajas Airport.

Atlantic sunrise

Atlantic sunrise, 1-6-12

Pulled directly from my old Tumblr:

…in about 96 hours from this very moment I will be landing in the Madrid airport. No more California for five whole months. Trading one paradise for another.

Wow.

It’s hard to discuss the difficult parts about leaving, because a lot of people only imagine PARTYING! BOYS! DRINKING! NOT REAL SCHOOL! when they think of studying abroad. (Since I am not [really] gung-ho about any of the aforementioned, I am a little worried about not making friends or any lasting connections. Why am I so square sometimes??) Like many things in life that not everyone has the opportunity to experience, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

But here goes:

It still hasn’t hit me yet that I am leaving. I will be living in another country, six thousand miles from home. I keep feeling like I’m packing for some extended vacation, but it isn’t that simple or easy. I literally do not know a single person in this program of 170 students. I’ve never been so far by myself, and for so long. I should have more confidence in myself and my abilities, and I know I’ll gain more confidence as I travel more (how many trips did it take for me to feel at ease while traveling with friends in the US?), but right now I am honestly terrified about everything that could go wrong, instead of focusing on what could go right. I worry about personal safety, health problems, medical emergencies, stolen items, lost baggage, getting lost myself. I know these seem insignificant compared to the big picture (life lessons! growing independence! new people, places and experiences!) but if these weren’t real possibilities, they would not be listed in my orientation handbook with instructions should these things ever happen. If anything happens, I won’t have my safety net, my family and friends, to immediately turn to for advice, help or comfort.

Those who aren’t experiencing this anxious anticipation don’t see the difficulties of being entirely alone, even if just for a little while. I feel helpless already.

To anyone who thinks I should just sit back, relax and not worry:

It’s not that easy.

Everyone deals with new situations differently. I’ve never been the carefree, jump-right-in kind of person. I’m the one who thinks too much, who inches in to the pool step by step and then stands there half-wet, debating when to go deeper into the water. That’s what I’m doing now: testing the waters slowly. Soon I’ll have nowhere left to go, nothing left to do, but immerse myself completely.

Fingers crossed.

Everything turned out okay. I need to remember not to let fear hold me back in life.

Jennifer

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