The thing that people don’t tell you about leaving to go abroad is that once the realization hits that you are going to another country for months on end, you essentially turn into a powder keg of emotions. In less than a week I will be on a flight to London, trying not to look like an idiot while I blow up my travel neck pillow and flip through Skymall magazine to figure out which of my million-dollar ideas I thought I had originally conjured have already been invented. Studying in London and travelling Europe will undoubtedly be the most romantic, existential, and invigorating experience of my life thus far. I harbor no inhibitions about the trip itself, I know it will play a poignant role in my development as a person and my worldview. But when it comes to leaving the people that I love, on some subconscious level, I am not quite sure how to confront my emotions. I am going to break down the roller coaster I have experienced thus far.
Phase 1: Irritability
Let me preface this by saying that I love my family. But this past week, I have been a trip. I know it, too. I was snapping at my brother without valid reason (how dare he ask to borrow my iPhone charger while I’m using it???). Needless to say, I have not exactly been a regular ray of sunshine. My mother tried delicately confronting me about this attitude problem – big mistake. “Oh, you don’t enjoy my company?” I barked back. “You do realize I leave in a week, right?” She explained that my departure was precisely the reason she thought I was showing such uncharacteristic irritability toward the people I care about most. She hypothesized that at a subconscious level, leaving them behind would be much less painful if I left upset with them. I immediately felt like I had been splenetic toward the people that I had meant to cherish my short window of time with. Cue the next phase…
Phase 2: Sentimentality
After those maternal insights, I realized that I had to abandon my immature behavior and face my reality head-on. I was about to leave my family, friends, and the country that I have called home in a few short days. I began to cherish every moment with my loved ones, almost obsessively. When you start to get emotional about clean laundry and leftovers simply because they remind you of home, it may be a red flag that you are somewhat unstable. Needless to say, I found it therapeutic and essential to carve out time for my loved ones. I opted to spend my New Years’ Eve at home rather than in a crowded party with strangers, probably one of the best memories of my break thus far.
Phase 3: Nerves, Nerves, Nerves
I write this phase about an hour before I am supposed to be whisked to the airport. I think I have quadruple-checked for my passport. I am utterly convinced that I have forgotten some essential item to make room for something frivolous, like the five bottles of nail polish that I could not bear to part with. I am a notorious over-packer, but somehow I always seem to leave behind some integral piece of the travel puzzle. I have butterflies that consist of equal parts excitement and panic. I feel as though someone took all of my emotions and threw them into a blender on the high setting. All this adrenaline will make it impossible to find solace in sleep on the plane, but the jet lag will be worth it.