Preparing for Change

Josiah Krul
January 3, 2020

Another semester has come to an end, and we roll into yet another December break. A typical December break for me is family-filled from beginning to end. We eat together, play soccer together, and shovel snow together. Living in Maine is unique. By comparison to large American cities, it's very rural; without a car, you're very limited in what you can do. These last days I find myself driving the old roads I know like the back of my hand, a slight curl of a smile on my face when I drive the same route to my grandmother's house. It all hits quickly that the comfort of familiarity will soon be gone as I fly over the Atlantic.

Junior year of college is also the year for career planning, or so I've been relentlessly told. In fact, I already feel behind the ball finding a potential summer internship that I'm legitimately excited about. Thus, I sporadically find myself on a plane to Chicago. A bit of a segue to my abroad experience in Amsterdam, the city of Chicago is a vastly different environment than the one I'm accustomed to being in. As I wander the busy streets and enter the office hosting my two-day job shadow, my feelings of excitement and slight discomfort flood through my body - a feeling I know I will be all too familiar with soon enough.

While mainly in the city for the job shadow, I find myself so preoccupied trying to figure out the new environment. I managed to stay with family friends in a suburban town north of Chicago and learn how to use the train to get into the city. When I'm in the Netherlands, I know I will need to adapt to public transportation as well. Rather than living directly in the city of Amsterdam, I will be living in a town just north of Amsterdam called Zaandam with family friends. I automatically started to draw similarities between my experience in Chicago to the knowledge I expect to have in the Netherlands. As I navigate Chicago accurately and confidently, Amsterdam starts to seem far less daunting. Before long, I'm back on a plane to Portland, Maine, and then it hits me again, harder this time. I'm going to miss my family.

When I get home, it's December 23rd. The Christmas tree is fully decorated, and the fireplace is freshly lit. The aroma of cookies and trail mix fills the house with a warm, cozy atmosphere. It's my favorite time of year, and I try to soak it all in while I still can. While Chicago prepared me for an increasingly vibrant and busy environment, I'm now preparing for the emotions of saying goodbye to my friends and family. I don't know how to handle these emotions best. I've never really been away from home for such an extended period. While I'm very excited, I also know the loving and supportive community I have become so accustomed to will soon be replaced with a completely new world.

So now is a time to savor and enjoy the present. Still, I also understand that the next week will begin an adventure that I will remember forever. Time will tell if I am adequately prepared for the journey ahead, but if I could say anything, it's that we all deal with change in a very personal way. For me, I want to enjoy every moment I can with those that I love. When I study in Amsterdam, I know that I will always be supported by my family back in Maine. The only way to fully enjoy the experience is to step into it with an open mind, understanding that the challenges along the way are only temporary. Spreading my comfort zone in Chicago and fortifying my support system has made me feel ready for the adventure that awaits. Here's to an exciting 2020.

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