Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pre-Departure Check In

My second half of junior year in college is going to be spent abroad in Spain. Wow, that sentence alone sounds too unreal to actually be my life. Prior to the semester officially beginning (Jan 27th), my friend Julie Brown and I have planned a two-week European excursion of our own to explore some new territory before settling down in our respective programs in Granada and Cordoba, Spain.  A lot of planning, internet searching, persuasive arguing with the parents, cafe and webcam meetings, and one big fat GRE later, and somehow our trip has come together. We will be spending two weeks traversing Istanbul (Turkey), Athens (Greece), Rome (Italy) and Paris (France). Again, too unreal.

As I am about to embark on my very own, movie-esque European adventure, I figure I might as well attempt to document my experiences as best as possible before utterly failing (the fact that utterly failing is already being taken into consideration is a little troubling).

At this point I am undoubtedly excited. About what though? I am not sure. My dream of studying abroad and travelling to Europe came to form in a 9th grade AP World History classroom, guided by my worldly history teacher. Since then, I have idolized Europe as a fantasy of artistic buildings, beautiful scenery and heavenly foods. While the States were grey Europe was sparkling gold. When blurred edges of naive fantasy start coming into focus, however, I realize that, (way to state the obvious) Europe is just another continent. With good weather,  bad weather, history, culture and all kinds of human beings, just like any other place.  So recently, I have been detoxing myself of all preconceived notions that had carried my expectations to a reality-defying height. Take that away, and I am left with no expectations. Once ready to jump into a golden lake of impossible fantasy, I am now prepared to step into an unascertainable blur that hasn't solidified yet.

There is no question that I will have an amazing time. It will be full of laughter and adventures and breath taking moments. But how all of that will manifest and play out is still a big mystery to me. It is on this note that I am about to leave my home and journey into a truly unknown place.

Before leaving, I decided to jot down some quick "indicators" if you will, about myself. I want to use them for compare and contrasting after my time in Europe comes to an end. Frankly, I cannot anticipate how drastic of a change I can undergo as an individual, emotionally and physically (hello never-ending pastries). But if there is anything that I've learned from change it is that it moves swiftly and unexpectedly.

Goals for Europe:
  • try new things; push myself out of my comfort zone 
  • become significantly better at spanish 
  • absorb the customs and cultures of all the places I visit-especially Cordoba
  • make friends with the locals
  • travel and explore lots-even if it is by myself
  • do not splurge away money
  • do not lose/get anything important stolen -develop street savvy 
  • live for spontaneous adventures
  • leave reservations behind 
Fears in Europe:
  • getting scammed/robbed
  • not being able to find Julie at the airport in Istanbul and not having cell phones
  • feeling awkward at my home stay 
  • not being able to communicate spanish effectively
  • missing my friends and family back home 
  • missing good chinese food 
  • getting fat from all the good foods and drinks and not being able to do anything about it 
  • not being able to stay  vegetarian / awkward food moments
  • it all going by too fast 
  • Favorite color: yellow
  • Favorite animal: elephants and giraffes 
  • Student of public health/policy 
  • Listener of indie music; attender of indie concerts
  • Eater of anything non-meat 
  • Hater of math, cucumbers, comcast and doing laundry
  • Lover of sunshine, good friendship, family, reading, beaches, friendly cats, comedy TV and peanut butter 
  • Searcher of spontaneous, unforgettable, gravity defying adventure 
  • Believer in optimism 

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