I cannot believe I’ve been here for a month already, that just blows my mind and kinda freaks me out. It’s going by so fast!! Too fast actually…
In my first post I mentioned some things that I was nervous about and some things that I was excited for coming into the whole abroad experience. Now that I’m one month in I figured this would be a good time to revisit those initial thoughts and concerns.
One thing that was making me extremely nervous was the fact that I was about to move so far away from home and all my family. I’ve always been anxious to part with my core group of people. I remember crying before the 5th grade overnight trip to the mountains, I just skipped the 8th grade DC trip, and going away to college was made less difficult only because I had so many close friends going with me. Honestly, the fact that I’m not as anxious about being so vastly separated from them surprises me. This is something that still kind of bothers me when I think about it too much (what if something happens and I can’t get back in time sort of thing), but overall the transition into being in Europe hasn’t been as hard as I originally expected it to be. While I’m at school in the states I’m used to talking to my mom almost every day on the phone and that’s something that isn’t as easy to do here with the time difference and her lack of iPhone (get with it mama). Not being able to talk to my family as easily has probably been the hardest thing to get used to. But again, it’s not as bad as I was anticipating. I think this is because one, it is still pretty easy to keep in touch with my family with facebook, email, skype, and the countless iPhone apps. And two, I feel so at home here and so comfortable here and therefore I’m not as ‘homesick’ but more ‘peoplesick’ at times (new word, run with it).
Not knowing anyone on my program coming into study abroad was also something that was making me pretty nervous. So many of my friends went abroad together and are living together which would have made the transition so much easier. I, on the other hand, hardly knew anyone from the trip. After having gone to the same school as my friends since second grade, the thought of having to make new friends on my own was very daunting. I’m sure that sounds silly, but this is the first time since second grade (seriously) that I’ve had to make new friends entirely on my own. Looking back now, though, the fact that I was nervous about not knowing anyone is humorous. I’ve made so many great friends that I know I’ll stay in touch with after the semester is over. My program is mostly to thank for this. At the very beginning they had all sorts of activities planned for us and we were all in the same hostel together so basically we were forced to get to know each other.
There was a lot of ‘hand holding’ done by my program in the first week or so but it was great. I know so many people who get to their location and have to figure out all the next steps and how to get to their housing entirely on their own. This would have totally and completely freaked me out. CIEE, my program, gave us just enough guidance and babying in the beginning to ease us into the city and living life in Brussels. Without the activities, orientations, and excursions on those first few days the experience would have been much more jarring and I’m not sure I would be as smitten with life here.
The fact that I had never been to Europe before was also intimidating. I thought I would show up to find out that all the other students on my program were already world travelers with their passports filled to the brim with stamps. Not the case. A good number of them are also in Europe for the first time and it’s been fun to share all those ‘firsts’ with them. I’m also grateful that my first experience in Europe is a complete immersion into the lifestyle here rather than a whirlwind trip to see all the sights. I’m learning so much and getting to know my area so well.
Thank goodness I can look back on that first post and giggle at the fact that I was so nervous about some of those things. As for the things I was excited for before moving to Brussels (my homestay, the food, learning, traveling, taking a break, and new friends)… They’re all still just as exciting and are just as amazing as I was anticipating them to be! As a matter of fact I’m off to Budapest tomorrow afternoon!
I swear I’m the luckiest girl in the world.