– Peter, Paul and Mary, ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’
Well, actually, I do know when I’ll be back again: four and a half months from now. November 19.
In a little less than eight days, I’ll be heading over 9,000 miles across the world with no one I know (know one I know yet, anyway). In just over a week I’ll be in Sydney, Australia, and in two I’ll travel to Melbourne. And once there, I’ll be officially a University of Melbourne student for the next four months.
I’m typing all of this, but none of it seems to register. Phrases like “University of Melbourne” and “over 9,000 miles across the world” are just that: phrases. It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m leaving; and not just leaving to somewhere in the States, or even to Europe. Australia — the other side of the Earth — will be my home for a third of this year.
Needless to say, I’ll miss my home on Hawk Hill terribly. Moving all of my belongings out of my off-campus house and into my car a few weeks ago felt surreal. Goodbye hugs to my roommates felt like I was saying “see you at the end of the summer” rather than “see you next semester” or “see you in 2017.” Soon I’ll be going to classes not taught by my favorite professors, surrounded by unfamiliar faces in foreign classrooms. I won’t be passing Barbelin 36 times a day, or sitting for hours on end in the Merion atrium with my laptop and an Einstein Bros. bagel, or having my heart warmed by the incredible Campion staff.
But I have been thinking more about the “wills” than the “won’ts” for sure. I will be living in the culture capital of Australia, a haven for artists and coffee connoisseurs alike (both of which I consider myself). I will be meeting new people, learning new perspectives, and taking in new cultures in a new city, all whilst running on a new sleep schedule.
Despite all of these exhilarating experiences ahead of me, I still find it strange to think that the first half of my senior year will be spent… just about as far away from St. Joe’s as I could possibly travel.
Some have asked why I didn’t study abroad junior year like most students do. While much of that decision was based sheerly on logistics, a great deal of it came down to whether I was ready to let go of life at home for a while. I wanted to go abroad when I felt ready to put things here on pause so that I would be able to fully embrace the newness of my surroundings. Although I’ll miss my friends and family (and familiarity in general), I don’t want to be constantly checking Facebook or texting them at all hours of the day; rather, I want to immerse myself in the people and places I will be invested in for a few short months.
This is what I need to do in order to grow both mentally and emotionally — but it is still sometimes hard not to worry about finances, about what will happen at home while I’m away, about how class registration will work with a 14-hour time difference, about any number of things.
More and more, though, I am learning how to live the phrase “let go and let God.” Even if religion isn’t your bag, it’s important to take a step back sometimes and relinquish your hold on the variables in life you cannot control (and I think we all know that there are a great deal of those). I don’t quite know yet where the wind will take me, but I have faith that I will land on my feet whenever it stops blowing.
I was floating around in the pool yesterday with my eyes closed, my innermost thoughts of worst-case scenarios running rampant. When I happened to open my eyes, I found a ladybug perched perfectly on a surfboard-shaped leaf beside me; it was a sight straight out of an animated movie. With a sigh I skimmed the tiny thing out of the water and centered myself in that moment. If I’d kept fretting with my eyes shut I might have missed that unusual little gift from the universe.
In just over a week my eyes will be very open. They’ll have to be: I’ll be across the world for the first time, and I don’t want to miss a second of these next four months.