I am studying in Freiburg, Germany for an entire academic year. In the German system, that stretches about ten months, but the foreign students come early for intensive German classes, bringing it to a total of eleven and a half months abroad. Lately, all I can think about is the vastness of that number and how impossible it is to comprehend. You can say that it's only a year, but then again—it's a YEAR.
When I occasionally am able to push the anxiety about time to the back of my mind, I still worry about the expenses, the loans I'm going be taking and the terrible exchange rate and the cost of travel. When I think about next year, it's money money money and time time time and stress stress stress. I think my friends will stop writing me letters and replace me, or that when I come back they won't like who I've become, if these eleven and a half months are as important as I think they will be.
Yesterday I was at my great aunt's 97th birthday party (I was disappointed; my mom had told me it was her 98th and I'd told all my friends and then I was wrong!). I told my relatives about my plans and everyone just talked about what a great opportunity it was for me, how lucky I was and how far I was going to go and just WHAT AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE A YEAR IN EUROPE WILL BE.
I mentioned I was sort of terrified, and everyone told me not to be. I'll see so much, learn so much, make so many friends. My cousin is convinced that within a few months I'll be fluent.
The thing is, I haven't even thought about language problems and total immersion being scary and the possibility of not making good friends in Germany. I'm too caught up in the people (and cats) who will still be in America, forgetting me more and more each day. I guess I need to forget about them forgetting about me, because it probably won't happen. Then, I need to start focusing on GERMANY. FREIBURG. Not gallivanting across the totality of Europe in nine weeks, not heading down to Africa, and not how I'm going to miss Christmas in the Krankenhaus. I need to remember that I decided to go to Germany for a year for good reasons.
Next up...perhaps I will expand on those reasons. Perhaps not.