For those of you who don’t know, I’m starting this blog because in 23 days I will be on a plane headed to Europe to study abroad! I will be flying out of Minneapolis to Amsterdam for a layover and then to Austria. I’ll be in Europe traveling and studying with 25 other students from my college, Bethel University. Everyone included on this trip is either a Communications major or minor. The group of 7 males and 18 female students that I am apart of are led by two of our communications professors. For the first half of the trip, one of our professors and her husband will be guiding us and for the second half, another professor will arrive to relieve the first and he will stay with us for the remainder.
I’ve been calling this impending trip “Abby’s Great European Adventure”, cliché and cheesy? I know. It’s almost as bad as the title of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s animated TV Series “Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action!” Circa 2001-02 or even their “You’re Invited” movie series where they ended every title with “Mary-Kate and Ashley” like You’re Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Fashion Party, or Mall Party, or whichever party the girls were having circa 1990-2000 (I’m sorry, I’m a nerd, I like obscure references.)
Nonetheless though, I felt as though my trip deserved a name and although cheesy, I find the name to be fitting and upbeat. As you can see from the photos below, I made a travel journal, I like to make journals but this one was extremely important for me to get right because it is the one thing that I plan to record my experience in besides this blog. I also began to write inside the journal but only on a couple of pages, also shown below.
The poem on the cover of my journal is called, ‘The Good Life’ By: Anonymous
“I want a house, a modest house to call mine. And I want to let the years pile on every surface of the house like layers of dust and rings in a tree trunk telling my story year by year. I want a suitcase for every journey I take and a hearty book for every that I don’t. I want to experience the world through seeing or knowing or hearing or understanding. I want to be there for it all, eternal, preserved, pressed between the centuries of the world like a flower between a book’s pages. I want, that when I leave, I will go knowing that I’ve lived every city, every sunset, every story, and every speck of dust that ever was mine to live.”
There is also a bible verse on the cover which is Isaiah 40:6-8, Which reads,
“A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
So, as the countdown to my great European adventure progresses and the days pass me by, I become more and more painfully aware that my days are numbered in the United States. I say painfully not because I am not excited about the journey ahead of me but instead because I haven’t spent any time emotionally preparing myself for what is to come. I haven’t been praying for the Lord to prepare me for this upcoming endeavor nor have I been seeking any type of guidance.
Sure, I have all the necessary travel gear, the perfect backpack, the books for my classes and everything from the packing lists that I didn’t own, I bought. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on amazon making sure everything’s just right. I’ve read countless study abroad books with wonderful tips for successful travel, taking notes throughout them all but I haven’t picked up my bible once. I have completely neglected one major step in the preparation process for this trip of a lifetime, probably the most pivotal one at that with the most vital importance to my well-being. The step that would be sure to quiet my anxieties and quickly dissipate the trepidation that has been eating away at me.
The way I’m beginning to see it, is even if I have all the travel gear in the world, what does that matter if my heart, mind and soul aren’t fully prepared and ready? By ready I mean open to receive the enrichment I am so avidly seeking, or rather, I’m wondering if I will be able to fully engage in all that this trip has to offer. I want to take advantage of all of the opportunities for growth and self-discovery I am presented with. I feel like the lack of preparation for my heart, mind and soul will leave me missing out on the insight I am so desperately trying to receive.
I don’t feel ready, I just wish I had more time, I know everyone wishes they had more time but as the days wind down and August 28th approaches at a rapid speed, I find myself becoming anxious rather than excited. I suppose anxiety is a normal reaction to a 3 ½ month trip to Europe when you’ve never left the country or your family before.
I know what they say “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting the rest of your life.” Therefore, I will never be fully ready because I don’t fully understand what I am in for. What I mean by that is, I do not know what situations will arise while I am in Europe, how do I prepare myself for the unknown? I don’t. Instead, I realize I cannot be in control of everything around me, as hard as I try, I have no control over anything except how I react to the things that happen. My only hope is to pray that God will give me the strength to thrive in all that I encounter and provide me with the skills to maneuver the next few months with grace.
I do find some comfort in knowing that my next few months will not be like the last 232 I’ve already lived, while I am definitely not someone who embraces change or even takes it in stride, I am looking forward to this experience to aid me in the process of evolving into a more balanced person. A person who can view change with an open mind and is willing to release the iron grip on order and routine I have found solace from in the past.
I’m looking forward to this adventure and have begun to find some comfort in the words below. As I was writing this post I decided to break out my bible that has been so neglected and the verses below (Joshua 1:7-10) were comforting. I’m feeling hopeful for the adventure. I promise not all my posts will be this long! Just for my first real post I had a lot to get out! More next Monday, Thank you for reading. My itinerary is on a separate page, the tab is above, next to the Who Am I tab.