Ever since it became official that I would be spending this fall in Sweden, I’ve felt like there have been signs everywhere trying to get me to change my mind. I remember last May, right after the Strokes had announced they would be playing at Austin City Limits, I was scrolling through Tumblr when I ran across one of those stupid astronomy posts where they tell you something based off your sign. Under Sagittarius it read:
“You are always the one doing the leaving and you try to stay so stoic and strong but you can’t tell me you don’t miss having somebody to share it all with. This world is too big to stay on your own. You’re contagious and everybody is willing to let you in even if they know you’re going to leave. Prove them wrong. Stay this time.”
I think if you know me, you know I am proud of my independent nature. I prefer to live alone and I have no problem going on adventures by myself. Ever since high school, I have been looking forward to going abroad. I almost even took a gap year before college to travel, but then realized I couldn’t afford to take off a year from working. I studied in France for a summer in high school on my own, moved out of my parents’ house a week after graduation and officially started living alone this past summer. I’ve ended and avoided relationships because I hate feeling tied down. I’m not supposed to feel scared to be on my own.
It felt like the astronomy post was talking to me. It was telling me stay in Austin. That I was too poor for international travel, that my journalism career couldn’t afford a semester off, that I was going to be missing too much. I didn’t want to miss out on four months worth of memories with my best friends or on all the cool things that Austin has to offer.
Despite all of these feelings, I never backed out. Honestly, I think I knew that I was just afraid to leave. I was afraid my friends would forget about me and that I would come home completely broke. But we’re not supposed to let fear stop us from doing things, right?
I spent a lot of this summer suppressing my anxiety about leaving, to the point where it just kind of boiled over during my last 24 hours in the states. Moving is tough, internationally is even tougher. Moving far away from everyone I love is hard. But I can feel it that this semester is going to be worth it, even if it just catalyzes a lot of self-growth (or I just learn how to walk outside in negative degree weather.)
I felt extremely nervous up until my flight from Boston to Iceland began to taxi to take off. All of the sudden I felt a burst of excitement in my chest and I knew that what I was doing was the right thing. The hardest part about leaving is always the goodbyes.
I urge anyone considering a semester abroad to just go for it. It’s worth it. I can already tell this may be the most exciting semester I have in college. Even more importantly, I urge anyone with a goal that scares them to just pursue it. The goals that scare you the most are probably the most important ones to chase after.