T – 86 days
I need to be honest. I bought my plane ticket this week and it still doesn’t feel real. In less than three months, I will be studying away at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
I’m excited to have the opportunity to take classes abroad and immerse myself in a new culture. For those who don’t know, Aberdeen is located on the east coast of Scotland bordering the North Sea. Aberdeen is a medium sized city, the third largest city in Scotland. For comparison, Aberdeen is 1/2 the area and 1/3 the population size of Seattle, WA. Some other fun facts is that Aberdeen is also called the “granite city” and its major industry is oil.
I feel incredibly privileged that I have the opportunity to study in a completely new country for several months this year. Growing up, I never imagined that I would study abroad, let alone in Scotland. I’ve only dreamed what I’ve been exposed to—the ideas within local books, pop culture, and music. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Two years ago, I started attending college at Pacific Lutheran University, only an hour away from home. I’ve been content in my community at college and at home. Throughout my life, local has been my comfort zone.
During high school lunches, I would sit on the rigid wood benches in the hallway. I wanted to avoid the rush of cafeteria traffic and the stress about finding a seat in the swarms of students. With a couple friends and a book, I quietly ate my food, swallowing my worries and fears. The crowded lunchroom was claustrophobic. The sounds and distractions were overwhelming.
I felt like I was shrinking under the pressure to find a big group of friends, to get the best grades, and to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It was too much. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t dare to step out of my comfort zone. It was too scary.
Naturally, I attended a college where I felt safe. Pacific Lutheran University had the small class sizes I craved for. I had the ability to choose my environment, my major, my residential hall to surround myself with others who share my interests. Over the past two years, I’ve became friends with the most incredible people ranging from Alaska, Minnesota, and the local Seattle area. I plopped myself in various clubs and organizations on campus, hoping, just hoping, that I would find a community that I relate with.
I was nervous, but I shouldn’t have been nervous. Whether it be mentoring at Keithley Middle School or hanging out in the Residential Hall Association office, I’ve found that I can feel comfortable by expanding my perspective. I just need to be willing to let go of expectations of perfect experiences. I need to listen to new ideas. I need to step out of my comfort zone.
So, I decided the next step in my journey is to study away. And temporarily leave my home in North America to leave the continent that I have never left.
I never imagined I would have the opportunity to study away. Somehow, I managed to find room my busy academic career as a double major in Sociology and English, and minor in music. It’s a great new journey, but it is nerve-racking not knowing exactly what’s in store. I’ve always been someone who loves control. I enjoy every moment of filling my g-cal and updating my planner. Over the past two years, I’ve created dozens of four-year plans, just in case. I always treasured knowledge and knowing every little thing that happens on-campus, at home, and with my friends.
I know next semester will be different. It’s a new country, a new culture, new people. I’ve chosen to study abroad because I know it will be scary. It will be a change – and I’m ready to try something new.