– Led Zeppelin, ‘Ramble On’
Let me ask you: have you ever had a dream – a huge, seemingly unattainable dream – that you chased after, strived toward, and ultimately lived out to the fullest of your capabilities?
Let me preface this with the fact that I consider myself immensely, inexplicably blessed to have such selfless parents, who have sacrificed (and continue to sacrifice) so much for me to be able to receive an incredible education. Through this education, I have already been granted a multitude of beneficial opportunities, with the most notable being that I was lucky enough to receive a full scholarship through both the Polish Women’s Alliance and the Kościuszko Foundation to study at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. Without this scholarship, I would have never had the means to fly to Kraków, let alone live there and take multiple courses for an entire month.
Of course, it had always been a dream of mine to go to Poland and discover my heritage firsthand, and I am eternally grateful to the PWA and KF for their generosity. But with the great deal of aid and help I so graciously received, the entire process of going abroad was, admittedly… relatively easy.
This time, however, it definitely won’t be.
I know what you’re likely thinking: “What do you mean, this time?”
Well, here it is: I’m studying abroad in Australia next July through November, during the first semester of my senior year. (I’m making an effort not to say “I’m trying to” or “I’m planning to” so it seems more realistic, but it’s extremely difficult to do when everything feels so shaky and unsure.) I’ve submitted my pre-application, opened a fundraising account, and have begun figuring out the logistics of it all.
But I’m not going to lie, the idea of living 9,600 miles away, plus thinking about the sublet I’ll need to find for my house, the papers and forms I’ll have to fill out, the mass amount of funds I’ll need to gather, the flights I’ll have to book… it’s all incredibly, overwhelmingly daunting. I’ve never before faced these feelings of extreme uncertainty and riskiness in anything I’ve done.
And I’ve been doubting myself a great deal because of that.
Is this too much for you to handle, Danielle? Do you actually think you can pull together that much money in half a year? What if your whole plan falls apart? What will you do then?
Honestly, I don’t have answers to any of the ever-nagging questions swirling around in my head. I haven’t made much of a backup plan. As far as funds go… I don’t really have any at the moment, although I’m picking up extra hours at work and am saving wherever I can. I’m selling my electric guitar, as well as some clothes, shoes (anyone want some Doc Martens?), books, and anything else I can list on Craigslist in time. I’m applying for scholarships left and right.
My parents have already called me crazy on quite a few occasions for taking on something so challenging – and, quite frankly, I think I sort of am.
But I’m also unwaveringly determined, ambitious, and yearning for an unfamiliar experience to throw me out of my comfort zone. I’m hungry for new knowledge, fresh perspectives, and alternative world views. Before I enter the so-called “real world” of concrete jobs and binding obligations, I long to see more of the literal world and its phenomenal locales, meet the individuals that inhabit these spaces, and, upon my return, use my broadened outlook to bring people together on campus, in the workplace, and beyond.
I’m aiming to use this webspace to recount my trials and tribulations throughout my planning of this trip of a lifetime. Collectively, these posts will be an unfiltered account of the study abroad process through the eyes of someone who, realistically, has no clue what she’s getting herself into yet; someone who will be working tirelessly to achieve her huge, seemingly unattainable dream.
On a side note: I sincerely hope that whether you’re in the process of realizing or actualizing your dreams (or anywhere before, after, or in between) you are doing what you love, going where you love, and being who you love. I wholeheartedly believe that if we have love in our lives, we can spread that passion and fervor to others.
That’s my mission – and somehow, I’m going to accomplish it.