Well, 2014 is here and I am writing this from Finland (!). The Helsinki airport, actually, since I haven’t made it to my final destination of Joensuu yet.
(Note: This was written 2 weeks ago, I’m late on publishing it…)
It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I am in Finland. The last few months have been a whirlwind, and I am still caught up in it. I’ve spent most of the last 24 hours travelling, and despite the fact that I am sitting comfortably now, I feel as though my feet haven’t quite touched the ground. Though that might just be the jet lag…
I intended to blog some over the past month, and I will probably end up blogging about parts of it more in-depth later (particularly my trip to New York City to get my Student Residence Permit and my trip to Hawaii!), here’s the run-down of my whirlwind month!
- Marathon road trip to NYC over Thanksgiving Break with my mom and two girls from my school who are also going to Finland to turn in paperwork and have biometrics taken for Finnish Student Residence Permit
- Wandering around NYC for a day
- Celebrating one of my best friend’s birthdays
- Student Marshaling at December Commencement with Laura
- Packing/moving out of my dorm room
- Finishing up work stuff
- My 21st birthday!
- Unpacking from school
- Packing for Hawaii
- Week in Hawaii to celebrate mine and my mom’s birthdays/Christmas
- Unpacking from Hawaii
- Packing for Finland and other preparations for travel
- Packing up all my other belongings to be moved when my mom sells our house (while I am abroad)
- Saying goodbye to friends/family
- Ringing in the New Year with my mom, my brother, my mom’s best friend, and one of my best friends
- The trip to Finland so far!
I don’t feel like I have had a moment to breathe over the last month. As it turns out, preparing for study abroad while life carries on with its complications and demands is no easy task; it can be quite overwhelming.
Not to complain, though. The overwhelming qualities of this experience are well balanced out by my excitement and I am incredibly lucky to be having this experience. My friends and family have been wonderfully supportive through everything, and wrapping up the year with so many memorable adventures has been the best send-off.
For all that, leaving is no easier. While I am comforted by the positive attitudes and emotional support of my friends, I remain slightly uneasy about the trip. I feel quite unprepared– still!– even as I sit in the airport, mere hours from arriving the town that will be my home for the next 5 months.
It seems kind of ironic.
So much of my life for the last few months has been spent preparing for this trip, be it editing my (super-specific!) packing list, finishing up paperwork, applying for an apartment, the list goes on… and yet, when it comes down to it, no preparations will prepare you for how things are.
Studying abroad is like any other kind of travel– scary, overwhelming, exciting– but most of all, unpredictable. You can never be fully prepared for everything, no matter how hard you try. And that isn’t a bad thing. So many things about travelling are out of your control. It’s hard to remember that sometimes. And you may have a breakdown in an airport. (I did!)
But the journey goes on, and the whirlwind will continue to whisk you away to new adventures.
While I may not feel fully prepared, if nothing else, this whirlwind month has given me plenty of stories to tell and small reminders of important life lessons. I’ll never know exactly what is coming, but the fact that I have made it so far (airport breakdown and all!) is a comforting thought.
So here we go… out of one whirlwind and into another!