Over the past few days, I have slowly begun organizing what I will need when I leave for my semester abroad in the UK. For such a long trip, I’ve had to anticipate what I will need while I am gone. While items like outlet adapters are obvious, it has been funny to pack clothes for cold weather while the sun is still shining outside. However, the parts of my suitcase that I am most excited about are the parts that I will leave empty, because they will eventually be filled by the mementos I will pick up along the way.
It has been a very long journey to arrive at this point. First, this semester was a dream. I knew when I began attending a small school that I would want to study abroad, and England was always the dream destination. When I found out about IES Abroad and the St. Catherine’s program, the dream became a goal. I began the process of applying to the program hoping I would get a chance to have my dream semester abroad. After I got accepted into the program, the dream started to become reality.
Now, I simply find myself waiting for Monday to arrive, when I will get on a plane to begin this incredible adventure. It will be the farthest I have ever been from home, the longest I will go without seeing my family, and I know I am going to make lifelong memories along the way.
Something that fascinates me is how much structure my trip has. I know what classes I will be taking, I know what field trips I will be going on, etc. But I also know that the memories that will mean the most will likely be the ones that do not appear on a schedule. These will be the moments that surprise and delight me in equal measure. As someone who likes having a clear plan as I head into an unknown situation, this has been a difficult idea to adjust to. At the same time, I know I will welcome these moments because this is an experience I have been dreaming of for so long.
I know there are going to be moments when I become overwhelmed. For the first time in my life, I will be emersed in a culture different from my own. As a deeply introverted person, I know there will be times when I need to take a step back and recharge my social batteries, and that’s okay. But what excites me most is knowing that what I am about to do is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have no idea when I may be in this part of the world again, and this is the perfect time in my life to have this kind of experience.
When people have asked me if I am nervous or excited for what I am about to do, I always say, “Both.” There are parts of this trip that will operate outside my comfort zone, but I find myself giddy with excitement for what the UK has in store for me. At this point, I am ready for this experience to send me on a new path. And as I begin to ready my suitcase for the airport, I know that the man who brings this bag back to the United States will be a different man than the one who brought it to Oxford, and I truly cannot wait to meet him.
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My name is Brady Judd. I am from Mill Creek, Washington, and I am a third-year history major at Whitworth University. As a history nerd, I am incredibly excited to be traveling to the UK. I have also long been a fan of British culture, watching shows like "Top Gear" and "Sherlock" as I grew up. I am an avid learner, so I can't wait to share all of the things I will be discovering with you.