Before Arriving

Leading up to my study abroad experience, I have not had enough time to truly relish in excitement. In the week approaching my departure, I had three final exams, two lab practicals, one final paper, one final presentation, I moved out of the house I was renting on south campus, attended my step-sister’s graduation, and went to a concert with my mom. With so much going on, studying abroad has never been absent from my thoughts, but it has not been my focus. As I write from my gate at the airport, I now allow my emotions of excitement and nervousness, anticipation and exhilaration, uncertainty and curiosity, to wash over me. For every aspect of the journey that lies ahead of me, there is a form of this duality. I can’t wait to meet my host family and my fellow students, get back into studying French, explore Lyon and the surrounding area, and start my classes. Yet, I worry I will not connect with my host family and peers. I worry I will feel alone and trapped. I worry about getting lost or taken advantage of in an unfamiliar city. I worry I will flounder in a foreign classroom setting. It is easy to lose confidence and succumb to related what-ifs, but what can you gain from such a negative outlook? Even if the worst-case scenario does not occur, in expecting it, you are blinded from the good. I have traveled on my own (without family and separate from a program) in the past, and while I enjoyed many parts of it, I also let anxiety and homesickness weigh me down. But I learned and grew from that experience and it brought me here. This time around, I want to prove to myself that I truly have grown. I want to appreciate every moment of this experience, even the ones that are hard because I know they will make me stronger. In reflecting on my past experience, re-re-reading the description of my host family and learning about Lyon’s history and culture via its Wikipedia page, my worries grow quieter. I know that through expecting to have fun, allowing myself to struggle, and recognizing how incredibly lucky I am to be given this opportunity, I will be able to make the most of my time in Lyon.

goodbye Bellingham
moving out
last night in the US
boarding flight from Manchester to Lyon

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