In approximately 24 hours, I will be in another country.
Though I've prepared for this day for months, it was not until yesterday that I've finally come to accept that. It's not that I'm not stoked; I don't believe Mr. Willis or Mr. Stallone could match how thrilled I am. But puns aside, it has been a process to get to where I am now, both mentally and emotionally.
However, after discussing this with friends in similar situations, I think that my experience is not a unique phenomenon. Thus, armed with a high school level knowledge of psychology, I feel confident to present that process, what I deemed the "Five Stages of Predeparture Emotions".
STAGE 1: Hysterical Excitement
After probably half a year of considering programs, evaluating your funds, and submitting forms, you have done it! Your acceptance letter has finally come in and you are informed you will be studying abroad at *insert location* the following semester. You're ecstatic, elated. Your heart and head are pounding, and one of those may be from pure joy and excitement.
STAGE 2: The Honeymoon Phase
Let's face it: you're in love. Why else would you talk endlessly about where you're going with your friends, family, cohorts, etc.? You go to bed thinking about your travels; when you're awake life is about preparing to leave and telling anyone or anything with ears about your plans. The next several months might not just be an adventure, it just may be the best 120 days of your year, possibly your life. What could possibly go wrong?
STAGE 3: A Subtle Realization
Maybe it's not so much about what will go wrong, but what will you miss? You've already got yourself a great group of friends, decent grades, a great campus. You're going to miss four months of potential awesomeness right here at home. The thoughts turn to doubt, and the doubt bring on the waterfall of "what ifs" and maybes.
STAGE 4: Minor Panic Attacks
What if you don't like it there? What about your friends? Will they miss you? What if they don't? What if they change, what if YOU change? What if everyone abandons you? What if you have to drop out? What if you have to go back home and do that terrible job you did in high school? What if you spontaneously combust? What if....(etc, etc).
STEP 5: Relax: You Got This
In the end, you slow down and take a deep breath. You got this. You're going to take it nice and easy, one step at a time. No one is better prepared, qualified, or more handsome than you are to handle this new part of your journey, mainly because its YOUR journey. And no one knows how to make it a great experience for yourself than you do.
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<p>Known as Matthew, Matthias, Mateo, Boom, and occasionally Rug, Matt Boey is a sophomore journalism and political science major with minors in tomfoolery and shenanigans. A native of Wisconsin, he currently attends Loyola University Chicago. Beyond writing or very strong coffee, Matt loves playing piano, theater, Zumba, singing in the shower, and people.</p>