It's starting to feel real.
The first time I think it really hit me that I would be gone for almost twelve months was at the beginning of June, when I said goodbye to Maraia's mom and we realized we probably wouldn't see each other again before Maraia and I returned from Germany.
Tonight I said goodbye to my three best friends from high school (and middle school and elementary school). They're the friends I never worried about leaving, because I know exactly who I am to them and that nothing can ever change that. But in the end, that makes it harder, because they are part of me and I am part of them. I'm used to only seeing Rachel every few months or so, because she goes to school out of state and spends summers pursuing her dreams in far-off places. The rest of us stuck close in college—roommate-close, even. The longest I've ever gone without Ali and Emma since we became friends is three and four weeks, and that was over two years ago. The farthest apart Emma and I have lived in the past nine years is the distance between South and East Quad.
For me, college was not as much about independence as I thought it would be. I took strange classes and made new friends, but not the way you do if you go to a college where you don't know anyone. A few months into freshman year, I started to realize that I felt cheated. I hadn't really taken any chances, coming here. Instead, I wanted a life of my own. Not me and Ali sitting in our room, Ali pining for her boyfriend or audiochatting with him, me wanting nothing and everything. Waiting every day for Emma to get there for dinner, because if we didn't wait for her there would be hell to pay. Sophomore year was better, more college-y, but it had its own problems.
I want to take a chance and get to know other people. See how I define myself without the people who know me best. Explore somewhere new on my own and make it into my home. Not our home, but my home. Sometimes I get sick of thinking in first person plural.
A year abroad is a less permanent way of getting a second chance. It's too late for the small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, and I like where I've ended up despite the things I would like to have done differently. But now I'm going somewhere where I can be me, alone, with strangers, by myself, being myself, but in another language, and with some friends and acquaintances from school.
*Edit: Maybe 'Selbstständigkeit' would be more accurate here. Less political, more personal?