“Is there a word halfway between hello and goodbye? Because that’s what my soul is saying right now. ” ~ Jarod Kintz
In between hello and goodbye. It’s a feeling that’s hard to pin down – a mix of bittersweet, excited, nervous, and uncertainty. January of a new year and the beginning of a new semester. It’s a hello to a different country and culture, a welcoming of new experiences, and a list of goals and dreams and possibilities. But saying goodbye – now, that’s one of my least favorite things to do.
I’d always dreamed of studying abroad. My dad would often talk of his adventures back-packing across Europe, regaling my sisters and me with tales of meeting new friends on the train traveling country to country, hiking in Switzerland, getting lost in Germany, and climbing the Eiffel Tower. Growing up, these stories became a favorite at bedtime, and my sisters and I would beg him to tell us about the Louvre, or what it was like to walk the busy streets in London. When I was applying for college, I remember looking through the study abroad programs at different universities, imagining myself in a new country for a whole semester! Once in college however, I never let the dream stray to the forefront of my mind, thinking that I wouldn’t have time to fit the semester abroad into my college experience. But as friends began to talk of applying for various programs, and others came back from their own semesters abroad, my curiousity piqued. Could I fit it in? Would I be able to make it into a program? Could I afford it? There still was a disconnect between dream and reality. But with the encouragement of a good friend who had studied in Copenhagen last spring, I applied, and held my breath, and while it still seems surreal, here I am, preparing to depart for Denmark in just 3 days! With each day that comes closer to departure, the dream is slowly becoming a reality. (And I know that it’s going to seem so much more like a reality when I get off the plane in Frankfurt, having not brushed my teeth and my hair looking like this.)
The past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind getting ready and reading all the documents and trying (and failing) to learn some Danish words and figuring out cell phone plans and making lots of to-do lists with very few things crossed off and going to the dentist for a million hours and not really practicing all too much. But it’s all good. And really all that’s left to do is pack. So far, I’ve dragged my suitcase up from the basement and opened it. The emptiness is staring at me accusingly, so I guess I better get back to that.
Goodbye to the familiar means embracing the new and unfamiliar, and I know that this is best done with an open mind and open heart. So I’ll wave goodbye to Vanderbilt, and goodbye to Colorado, home, and family, and turn to say hello to whatever comes next. Are you ready for an adventure? Me too. Attraversiamo – let’s cross over!