A Picture Won’t Say Enough
It is now days before departure to Namibia, Africa, and I am still packing my suitcases. As with any trip you take there is always something forgotten–I don’t want that to happen because it’s not so easy to walk into a store and just expect what I need to be there. You better believe that I will be wandering the house until the moment I leave to make sure nothing is left behind.
As the days fly by, group emails from Professor Patty Caro have been arriving regularly to my UWSP email account. As always, Professor Caro is on top of all our worries and making sure the trip will have little to no faults. She even generously offers herself to go first for experiences like security at the airports so that we don’t have any trouble. What a thoughtful and caring mentor that will be taking us to Africa!
I feel very prepared for the international study abroad trip with the orientation and meetings that we had prior to last semester ending. What I was not prepared for is the roller coaster of emotions that I have been feeling leading up to these final days. I often find myself taking breaks from preparations for the trip and sitting in a chair by a window. This seems to calm me and bring me back to level headedness. I absorb the scenery and calmness of the surroundings and try to take mental pictures so that when I arrive in Africa I can compare the climate, topography, and yes, even the people and how they interact in their culture. No one told me that I was going to feel incredibly nervous, overly excited and somewhat sad about this opportunity.
After talking with some past travelers to international destinations, I have found that I am not the only one on this emotional roller coaster. In fact, a friend of mine that traveled to Ireland a few semesters ago through the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point International Studies program told me that she felt overwhelmed before leaving too and actually cried while thinking, “Is this really what I should be doing? Am I going to hate it there? Will I just stay in my room all day?” She then told me that she got on the plane and had the time of her life, came back a changed person, and is looking forward to doing it again in London come November. What I have learned is to not let my emotions take control of my thoughts because before I know it I will be home again. No amount of pictures will ever compare to the experience itself.
I remain in Stevens Point, Wis., for just a few more days before departing from Chicago for Africa. I can’t wait to catch up with you all while I am there to show how possible these travels can be and share my journey with you.
Rebecca Wagner, a junior majoring in early childhood education at UW-Stevens Point, is blogging about her study abroad experience in Namibia, Africa.