Mid-Stride from Minnesota to Buenos Aires: Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Grace Worwa
February 27, 2022

I was drifting off to sleep last night, exhausted from a long day at work and bracing myself to do it again the next day, when a wisp of a thought drifted its way harmlessly to the forefront of my mind and electrified my consciousness. 

I jolted awake… I leave for Buenos Aires in THREE DAYS?!?!

You know that emoji that has both eyes so wide open that its pupils are just two tiny, scared dots? That’s probably what I looked like last night as I laid in bed, staring upwards through the darkness at where the ceiling should’ve been. My thoughts were broiling furiously, trying to process the wave of conflicting emotions that had suddenly roared up at me out of that innocent wisp of thought. 

It’s not that I hadn’t seen this coming. I’d been preparing for this trip for at least two months. At the start of January, I’d created a master “To-Do List” of everything that I needed to do in order to be ready to live abroad. My list was even divided into sections: General, Health, Tech, Finances, Academic, Leaving Things at Home, Making the Most of the Trip, To-Do Within Two Weeks of Departure, To-Do Upon Arrival, and To-Do Upon Return. 

Okay, maybe I went a tad crazy, but it worked for me. I’d been vaccinated for typhoid, I bought new sandals, I’d gotten my academic credits sorted out with my home university’s registrar, I’d applied for and received a credit card that would work abroad, I’d unlocked my phone so that I could change the SIM card, and the list goes on (and I do mean the real, physical to-do list). Plus, IES Abroad had guided me every step of the way, from applying for my student visa, to pre-registering for classes, to receiving my housing assignment. 

My point is, I was ready. There would be no frantic trips to Target for me over the next couple of days. So as I layed in bed staring at the ceiling that night, why did I suddenly feel so unprepared? 

I felt more than unprepared. I felt terrified to be leaving everything I know behind. I’m a planner. I like to know where I’m going to be and when at least a week in advance. I like to know what to expect, but I don't have that right now. The next four months of my life were blocked from my view by the impenetrable wall that was Tuesday, March 1, my arrival date. On top of that, I couldn’t even count on having my own language to rely on. Sure, I could understand Spanish in class at my home university, but living, socializing, and relying on it every day is a whole different beast. 

I also felt sad. I was sad to know that the next time my friend and I met up for our regular coffee at Caribou would be the last for four months. I was sad to say goodbye to my family. I was sad for my last day at work, my last time driving my car, my last time at my gym. I was going to miss all the everyday aspects of life that I normally take for granted. 

But most of all, I was excited. Even though I was mourning the familiar, I could not wait to experience all the newness ahead of me — new food, new culture, new people, new perspectives, new experiences, and new ways of doing things! I was excited to improve my Spanish, get my travel on, and learn more about myself in the process.

As fear, sadness, and excitement all swirled my brain into a helpless puddle that night, I realized that I’d forgotten to prepare one thing for the trip: myself. I’d poured so much energy and focus into hunting down the perfect credit card and reviewing my packing list that I hadn’t given myself time to process the gigantic step I was about to take out of my comfort zone. Now, it was all hitting me at once. 

In hindsight, it would’ve been wise to take a few days off work the week before departure, or to start a journal a few months before. 

But it’s too late now, and here I am mid-stride, about to take that gigantic step forward. 

Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. 


Click here if you’d like to take your own adventure abroad with IES Abroad! 


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Grace Worwa

<p>I’m studying for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I hope to improve my Spanish language skills and learn more about the country’s women’s rights movement. I’m from the U.S. state of Minnesota, where I also attend college and study Spanish, Political Science, and English. I’m on a pre-law track and hope to pursue a career in immigration law.</p>

Home University:
Gustavus Adolphus College
Dayton, MN
Political Science
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