Well I did it…
I packed three and a half months worth of clothes and supplies into two suitcases and schlepped from Charlotte, North Carolina to Barcelona, Spain in just about 8 hours, give or take the last minute dinners, tearful good byes, awkward encounters, and a few panic attacks. Just a few.
We all had to take a survey and say how prepared we were, and of course I said I was very prepared because I honestly have no clue what it is to be prepared, or unprepared for that matter. But why wouldn’t I be prepared? I read all the stuff, I went to the meetings, I bought sunscreen, who could be more prepared than that?
I think it really dawned on me that I was going to half way across the globe to learn a language I barely spoke when I drove through Wofford College the day I left. I went there early to help my friend move and as I rolled through the familiar streets I noticed they had set up the rows of white chairs on the main lawn for the incoming freshmen. This wave of nostalgia came over me, and I thought of all the moments I’d shared with people at this school, every exam and all-nighter and party that made me a Wofford student.
I realized that I wouldn’t be there for any of the back to school jitters, all my friends would be going back to school and resuming their lives at Wofford and I would be starting over. I’ll never get to be a freshmen again, but it really feels like I just began my college life all over again. I’m in Barcelona with a whole group of people I’ve never met, with new roommates, a new host family, and not a single familiar face or place to take solace in – plus I have to learn Spanish. It’s like the first day of college on steroids.
So grappling with a very sudden quarter life crisis on top of already present stress, I tried to pack (Never put off packing until the last second, even if it seems like a good idea to wait, just don’t do it). I’ve also never left the US, I’ve never even left the eastern seaboard, so you can understand the increasing terror that gripped me with each step. ‘What will they ask me at Customs? Will they let me on the plane? Will they search my bags? Will every disaster I cook up in my sleep-deprived brain somehow occur in a Murphy’s Law series of coincidences?’
The answer to that is no, which I know now that I’m safe and sound in my housing assignment. But I had a solid night-long panic fest until that happened. But I did it! I got through and nothing bad happened to me! There is hope for the hopeless. In retrospect, I must have been decently prepared, and now I’m here in my host family’s apartment, cringing my way through every interaction because, and this will shock you, I really cannot speak Spanish as well as I’d hoped. Thankfully, I have an understanding host family and much more fluent roommates.
So here’s to Barcelona, may it be kind to me.