As a child, nothing was more thrilling to me than braving the Indiana elements to make the ten-minute trek down the road to spend the night at my grandparents’ house. It didn’t often happen, but it was worth the wait. Walking in their house was what I imagined walking into heaven must be like: love and light greet you at the door.
Of course, as with every journey, it was essential to prepare. As you all know, when you prepare to leave, you face many decisions. Chief among these is determining what to take with you. At the age of ten, I was overwhelmed by the weight of this decision. So, I flourished pen and paper, and decided to make a list of the essentials:
Now that I had gotten all the obvious things, I would consider if there was anything I didn’t want anyone to find while I was away and add that to the list too.
When the day finally arrived for my departure, I would wobble out of the hours with three bursting bags, glaring at my parents and my siblings, just daring them to ask, “Do you really need all that stuff?”
Later that evening at my grandparents’ house, I would inevitably discover that I had forgotten a couple things: my pajamas, my glasses, my contact case…my toothbrush, a change of clothes…and my doll’s shoes. Thank goodness I had made the list! Imagine what else I might have forgotten otherwise.
I had yet to master the art of prioritization. I knew what I wanted, but I did not understand what I needed.
A decade later, I again find myself packing. It is even more essential that I only pack what I will need. Last time I was ten minutes away from home by car. This time I will be ten hours away by plane. Last time I was gone one night. This time I will be gone for more than six weeks.
Deciding what to take with you and what to leave behind is never an easy task. Without the benefit of hindsight, it is difficult to have the gift of foresight. It’s difficult to know what you’ll need until you get there. There are so many unknowns.
That is actually a big part of what drew me to study abroad, though! It calls us out into the sea of the unknown. It compels us to not just consider the unknown but to meet it—to entertain uncertainty, to invite discomfort, and to embrace confusion. Experiences such as these make us aware of our ignorance and allow us to learn from it.
As part of orientation, we were given some packing advice: to leave room in our suitcases. This space will be filled when we return home with the various items we have accumulated during our time there.
My suitcase isn’t the only thing I need to save space in, though. Sometimes, I find that I am so preoccupied with my own ideas and expectations that I miss out on what an opportunity has to offer. Sometimes I am so engrossed in finding answers that I forget to ask questions.
This is why in preparing to leave for study abroad I am mindful that I am not just leaving behind the dolls and games ten-year-old me took with her; I am also leaving behind her search for certainty. Instead, I embark on a journey of growth.
Sometimes the best experiences are the most uncomfortable ones. Sometimes you learn the most from accomplishing the least. And sometimes you have to get lost to find your way.
I can’t wait!
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<p>A rising junior at IUPUI, I am pursuing a dual degree in psychology and journalism with a concentration in public policy. While psychology provides insight into the human brain and behavior, journalism allows for the expression of the individual. By combining the two, I seek to take the understanding the former provides and use the latter to share this knowledge with others and demonstrate its significance and relevance in society.</p>