It's strange to think about the beginning of my exchange year when, at this time, I am in a vacuum of sorts. I have not yet left. My friends and family are still close by for me to engage in the sense of familiarity which I have been surrounded with my whole life. But at the same time, my suitcase is filling. I am taking my clothes, the ones I have worn for countless days of school, of meetups with friends and family, of my American life, to Germany. I am preparing myself for departure, and in that, the vacuum is created. I am still here, but I am nearly there. 10 days from now, I will be in Washington, D.C. with 49 other CIEE CBYXers. People who, over the last four months, I have grown to love, to share my concerns, my questions, and my excitement. We have that in common, and I cannot wait to see them all, in person, together.
Truthfully, I am nervous. That feels almost like a secret-one that I've been keeping from everyone who asks me how I feel about going away. I am, justifiably, nervous. For as long as I can remember, being in control and prepared for everything has been an aspect of my personality. Yet now, there is too much for me to prepare for everything. But that's okay. I am learning to find excitement in what I cannot prepare for, to let go of the "what ifs" and the potential worst case scenarios. Because they haven't happened yet. I will deal with those things as they come. Being nervous, however, seems to come in a package deal with excitement. There is so much more to be excited about than worried about. I’m so excited for to meet my host family, who is a perfect match for me. We talk nearly every day, and I often exchange a countdown until the day I arrive in my new town with my host sister, each of us anxiously awaiting the day when I will come to live with them. My host school, which practically looks like Hogwarts (I am way more excited about this than I should be, but I've got a thing for beautiful architecture). Most of all, I am looking forward to trying something new, to see a new place from a new perspective.
A CBYX friend of mine brought up a good point in conversation last night. The discussion was homesickness- , a topic which we have traversed many times before. It is on the minds of all of us. When asked, "Do you think you're going to miss your family lots?" my friend said, "They'll still be here when I get back." She then apologized for feeling like she had no heart, but I felt like she made a point which eased a tremendous amount of worry. Because she was right:. oOf course I am going to miss my family, but they aren't going anywhere. My town isn't going anywhere. When I get back, I will pick up my cello lessons again, return to my job, and to my school. But for now, it is time for me to break from the routine:. To put myself in the unfamiliar. To have the adventure of a lifetime, because that's what it will be. To get out, see the world- , meet people. And when I return, I will have a lifetime of stories to tell and a new home across the ocean.
And that is the biggest comfort of all.