The Other To-Do List: What I Want to do Before Going Abroad

I spent hours writing and rewriting my application questions. I sent dozens of emails asking for recommendations, advising appointments, and clarifications. I called Helpline to fix my StudioAbroad account so many times that I was convinced they’d block my number. As of early February, my application is submitted, and all I have to do is wait for the decision. The time that submitting my application has freed up has left me going through a strange withdrawal from off-campus study planning, so for me, there’s no better way to occupy my time than by making a new list. Here’s what I want to get done before I leave the country (minus the paperwork):

Know What I’m Getting Into

I pride myself in being well-versed in American politics and current events. I can’t say the same, though, for my knowledge of the United Kingdom (where I hope to study abroad). The BBC World Service kept me updated over the summer, but since then, I’ve been too tied up in following the Trump administration to focus on a global scale. Although I love to tear through a Jeffrey Archer novel on British political intrigue, I definitely need to do some legitimate studying.

 

Find Some Stability (And Be OK with Losing It)

Like many Kenyon students, I’m a very routine-oriented person, so uprooting everything I’m used to at home is going to be a challenge. So far, my plan is to create a comprehensive planner, meticulously color-coded, to keep track of every last thing I could possibly imagine (finances, classes, sightseeing, etc). I think an important part of going abroad, though, is embracing what you can’t control. Hopefully, I can get better at accepting the unknown—I’ve heard it helps to broaden your horizons.

Get My Fill of America

I’ve spent all but one week of my 19 years of life in America. I love the Midwest, and I’m sure I’ll miss the comforts of home, but that doesn’t mean I’m not ready to go abroad. I do, however, want to make sure there’s plenty of the US in my system before I leave it behind. For me, this means low-quality reality TV, savoring the Imperial System, and blasting Bruce Springsteen. I’m so excited to go abroad, but I’m sure I’ll get homesick, so filling myself to the brim with American culture is essential.

Revise My Bucket List

When people ask me what I plan to do or see when I’m in Europe, my go-to answer is: “Everything!” I know, though, that money and time make this impossible. Based on suggestions from family and friends, I’ve compiled a list of things I simply have to see. Unfortunately, though, it’s about a dozen pages long. Commitment is hard, but I’m determined to make a realistic tourism plan before I leave.

Tie Up Loose Ends

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2018 was to make sure I felt complete closure before I left America. Although I’m starting to think that’s a little unrealistic, I want to do my best to make sure I don’t leave behind any awkwardness or uneasy feelings. Because I plan to keep in touch with my family, friends, and sorority sisters, I want to make sure I can do it without reservations. For me, this will probably mean focusing on a few strong relationships rather than several flimsy ones. I’m glad, though, to put in some quality time with my loved ones because I know that leaving them will be rough.

 

These are only a few of the tasks I’ll need to complete before my plane lifts off the runway. I know that leaving the country will be hard, but making lists like these does wonders for my uneasiness. For me (and for so many others), organization is like a coping mechanism—one that can actually be surprisingly healthy.

 

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2