Today was the final day of class for the cross-cultural training course I had to take in order to study abroad next semester. I honestly hated the class, but in the last five minutes the professor said something that I’m going to be holding onto for the next six months. In fact I think I’m going to tack it on my wall as a reminder. He said “you’re making the right decision in choosing to study abroad”. It’s that simple, yet it felt like something I’d been waiting to hear for months.
I’ve never been so excited in my whole life, but it’s no secret that I’m currently in a state of panic over the whole thing. I have been asking myself if I would regret this choice for the rest of my life, I have been wishing that I could just know that I’m going down the right path. I’ve been doubting my ability to do this, to go so far out of my comfort zone. I am a very shy person, I may try to avoid this and change it, but it’s a simple truth of who I am. Maybe one day I won’t be, but I’ve been trying to change for as long as I can remember and I’m just not there yet. I look at the other students who will be studying abroad and I can’t help but compare myself to them. I’m not like them. I do not walk up to strangers and start a conversation. I do not ask for help or directions. I do not go to parties. I do not socialize. But I’m putting myself in a position where I will be alone in a country where I won’t have anyone I can call, where I’m going to have to do all of the things that I currently cannot do. I’ve been looking at myself and saying “why did you think you could do this!” Everything in me is telling me I’m going to fail.
And I very well might fail. I surely will fail in some aspects. This is not going to be easy, and it’s not going to go as planned. But it is the right decision. I know this because I know that no matter what happens I will learn and grow and come back a better person than when I left. The only way it could truly go wrong is if I die. I’d rather not think about that possibility; besides, it’s just as likely to happen if I stay – and then I wouldn’t have gotten my great adventure.
I’ve also been doubting my choice in university. Maybe I would have a better time at a different school, but I’m just going to have to accept that I made a choice. You can call it fate if you want, but this is where I’m going and it’s where I’m meant to go. Besides, it doesn’t really matter where I’m going, it matters that I’m going. No matter where I go, it will be worth it.
There is still so much work left to do before I will be boarding that plane, and then there will be so much more work. But it will all go by so much easier knowing that I’ve made the right decision. I thought this was the type of thing that you could never know until it was over, but I think I know now. I’m not meant to be the same person forever, I need to get out and figure out who I’m meant to be next and how I need to change. And I just can’t do that here. Back in high school I felt trapped in my life. Going away to college was the right decision then and I knew it without a doubt because I knew that I didn’t have room to grow where I was. I’m feeling the same way now, I’m running out of room to grow and it’s scary because there is so much I still need to change. I know that I’m making the right choice; sometimes it just takes someone else saying it to remind me that it’s true.
In two months I will be starting classes for my semester abroad in England, and I’ve already made a bad first impression. In researching England I read over and over again that the English are very serious about manners. So I sent this super polite email asking the coordinator for the program at the university a few innocent questions. For some reason she thought that this meant that I had been ignoring her informational emails she had been sending. I have read them all, several times, I just had questions that I felt weren’t answered. I thought that asking questions and trying to understand would be a good thing. I guess I was wrong.
Besides, even if my questions had been previously answered it could have been handled so much better. She acted like I’d caused a bunch more work for her with my email. She didn’t even answer two of my three questions.
I’m having trouble rationalizing the email she sent to me. I realize that it is very hard to convey tone through email, but writing in all caps with exclamation points either means that you are really excited, really happy, or really mad. She was most definitely not happy or excited. I’m just upset to be off to a bad start before I’ve even arrived. It’s like being in debt before you even start working … oh wait, that’s my life. Ha!
Clearly she doesn’t like me already, and frankly, I don’t like her either. Too bad I’m going to have to work with her to get through this whole study abroad thing. She is supposed to be the person I email if I have any questions (yeah right), she’s supposed to help me when I get there, and help me throughout the whole time I’m there. Lucky me.
This whole fiasco is giving me second thought about the whole thing. It’s way too late to do anything about it now. Unless something goes horribly wrong I am going. I’m kind or wishing I had picked a different school. I have been thinking about this for about five months now, so this has really made me think that I made the wrong choice. I just have to remember that six month ago I made the choice that this is where I wanted to go and I must have had a good reason for choosing it then.
On a semi-unrelated note, I just watched last week’s episode of Glee and OMG! Hot Irish guy has the best accent ever!! Ahhhhhhh! Next time I start to worry about things going wrong in England I’m just going to remember that there is at least one thing that will not disappoint me: the super-sexy accents!
I’m reading a book to prepare to studying abroad next semester. This book states over and over again how important it is to have realistic expectations and to not be too optimistic, because then you will just be disappointed and sad. I’m pretty notorious for expecting things to turn out better than is likely… or possible. So I thought I would share with you some of my most unrealistic expectations for my upcoming adventure:
- It would be the coolest thing in the world to meet one of the cast members of the Harry Potter series. The country seems so small in comparison to the US that I’m just bound to run into one at some point! Ok, maybe not, but a girl can dream.
- Similarly, several of my favorite authors are from England, and I would love to meet one of them. Probably as unlikely as the previous.
- I hope that I make a lot of friends very quickly and they embrace me because I’m an odd American. I’ve never been very good at making friends, and I guess being weird isn’t the best plan for making friends either. But for some reason it made sense in my head.
- I’m kind of hoping that when I get there I’ll just suddenly be a completely different person. It’s like a fresh start, so what’s stopping me from being exactly who I want to be? I’ll suddenly be confident and fun and lovable and everyone will want to hang out with me. This may be the most unrealistic of all, probably also the one which will cause the most problems for me.
There you have it. And you know what? I don’t think I’m going to even work on thinking realistically; it’s just too much fun dreaming.
I would like to preface this by saying that I typically like my teachers. I think teachers/ professors are usually great. But every once in a while, one of them just gets under my skin. So far in college I have only had three professors that I really didn’t like.
The first one just annoyed me a bit. The second one made me want to punch someone… her. This third one makes me want to rip my hair out. Here’s why:
- She is a hypocrite. The entire class is about learning about other cultures and not jumping to conclusions and judging. But I see her doing an awful lot of judging and stereotyping.
- The workload and entire format of the class in ridiculous. There is a fine line between being prepared and being obsessive. This class is far beyond that line, way into the realm of obsessive. We are just studying in circles, learning the same thing over and over again. The class is supposed to help us prepare to study abroad, but we go way too in-depth on certain subjects – like stereotypes of Americans – and don’t even touch on things that I would think would be very important – like how to travel in a foreign country.
- She has an annoying laugh, an annoying face, and she needs a new bra (how can anyone not be distracted by that?). Maybe she really isn’t as annoying as I think, but it’s a three hour long class. Anything can get annoying after three solid hours, she gets annoying after about thirty minutes.
- She does not read her emails! This is the most infuriating of all. As a professor there are a few things which you are required to do: teach a class, be available during your office hours, give out grades, and respond to your damn emails!!! In all fairness, she does respond, it’s just obvious that she didn’t actually take two minutes to read what we’ve written. I recently emailed her with a few simple questions – my entire email was four sentences long. She responded only to my last question, which was the least important. I need her to answer my questions before I can write my essay.
Ok, my rant is over. I could go on, now that I think about it there are about ten other things that make me want to kick her. Don’t worry, I’m not the violent type. I just sit in class rolling my eyes when no one is looking and coming up with mean nicknames that I’ll never use (she is “Horse-Face”). On the bright side, I only have three classes with her left!!