So I excited I could pee my pants...sort of.
Salt Lake City Travel Blog› entry 1 of 14 › view all entries
I’m not sure that one can ‘sort of’ pee her pants, but I just made it a legal possibility – defying all scientific and social laws – by posting it for blog nerds to see.
The daily countdown is nearing the single digits (11 days…), and I’ve yet to feel any sense of anxiety, urgency, nervous excitement, or swarms of butterflies flitting through any of my nervous channels. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s a strange phenomenon.
As many know, I was planning to do this exchange program this past fall semester, meaning I would’ve been arriving back here in Salt Lake City in just short of three weeks. I had my renewed passport, my visa, my plane ticket into Madrid, my international health insurance, my host family assignment, a $2,500 study abroad scholarship…and then a very strong feeling that I shouldn’t go. It was the weirdest, crappiest, and most relieving feeling all at once. It was like that feeling you get if you’ve got vertigo and you just rode an upside-down ride at the state fair after eating three Italian sausages, two snow cones, and an elephant ear…and the feeling it melts into after you get sick in the public trash can in front of the line of ‘cool kids’ at the tilt-a-whirl. You know those kids…the ones who you glare at but are slightly envious of because they have enough money to ride the rides at night - after the wrist bands expire – and pay $1.40 per ticket on a four-ticket ride, for 75 seconds of spinning and tossing under thousands of colored lights. The car ride home? Sucks. But the next morning you feel great. That’s what it felt like when I realized I shouldn’t go this past autumn…not to mention the approximately $2,200 I had already sunk into prep for the experience.
Somehow, I’ve been stuck in this permanent morning-after mode. Maybe it’s because the decision to study abroad this semester – my last official semester for my undergraduate degree – was very last minute. The application deadline was October 1, and I didn’t apply until the last week of October. I’m a natural procrastinator, but that was pushing it. I should have been getting my visa at that point, as you need to apply for it no less than 60 days in advance. In order to get your visa, you need the acceptance letter from the university in Spain, and from the previous semester’s experience, I knew it would take five weeks to get the letter. Magically, I got my acceptance letter in five days, but when I went to make a visa appointment down in Los Angeles, there were none open until the middle of December…37 days before my departure. At the Spanish Consulate, the worker told me to not get my hopes up and that I may not be on that plane out on January 20th because there was a huge back up in visa requests due to the holiday and the students all getting their acceptance letters later than necessary (not the words you want to hear when you’ve already paid $$$ to reinstate your plane ticket). However, the Consulate pulled a Houdini and my passport was returned with my visa in about 13 days. I got a new host family assignment; I’ll be staying with a single middle-aged woman, Alejandra, who is also hosting a 26-year old graduate student, Nerea, from Pamplona, Spain. This host mother had an e-mail address and I’ve been really lucky to be corresponding with her, and she and Nerea have taken pictures together and e-mailed them to me. Additionally, out of nowhere I found someone to sublet my room without ever having advertised. A girl that I recently met casually mentioned something about her living situation and considering moving. With my room fully furnished, and her not having hardly any personal belongings, the whole situation is perfect and she is moving in my room the day I leave, which will be a huge blessing for me financially, no matter how long she decides to stay. Everything has fallen into place very quickly this time, and it just feels right.
I was hoping to feel some of that excitement I’ve felt every day for the past ten years when daydreaming about going abroad…that passion, that flame, something. I feel like there is something wrong with me, like perhaps my soul has fallen a bit ill. I feel very calm and not even an ounce anticipative. I created this blog last night in hopes of kindling a touch of excitement (it worked; my roommate, Marci, mentioned that I seemed a little more excited). My living room is awry with heaps and piles of clothes and personal belongings, sorting and purging as much as possible to simplify my life and have a fresh start when I get back on June 14th. I’ve got to-do lists posted everywhere, spreadsheets, stacks of papers to file, and I’ve got no sense of necessity to get anything done. Just a few months ago I would stand in my kitchen cooking in the warm, golden sunlight, listening to Spanish guitar music (quite often ‘Recuerdos de la Alhambra’ on repeat) and daydream of transatlantic balmy nights and foggy mornings. While I’m not going on an exchange to a Mediterranean climate where my historical and cultural interests are much more concentrated (Oviedo is very Atlantic, called ‘Celtic Spain’, and more my style in the long run), you’d think some of those daydreams would carry over. I’m sure a fraction of this lack of excitement is because my life has been the stuff dreams are made of…I’ve been dating the most amazing guy for the past six months, and of course it will be hard to leave and be apart for the same amount of time we’ve been dating. Time will move both quickly and slowly, but I have no worries about the strength of our relationship. (For the record, I am the last girl you would ever think would let a relationship affect her passions in life…this is a really new experience for me.) Aside from that, I’m sure there are other factors that play into my lack of realization that in 11 days I’ll be boarding a plane to Madrid with my life packed in two suitcases. However, this is an experience I’ve wanted for a long, long time, and those who know me well would think I’m crazy to not take it (and probably wonder why I haven’t had a dozen other experiences by now)…they know that this is a part of me and that I’ll completely fall in love with Oviedo once I step foot off the train and see my new home, surrounded by the Cantabrian mountains.