Accomplishment

I’ve put off writing this post for a long time. I’ve gone through so many iterations of this post in my head that it has apparently looped back around to writing this post about writing this post.

But anyway. Let’s talk about goals.

I had a turbulent summer, and in the middle of it I created a list of goals for my upcoming year abroad. It is an interesting and eclectic list, but it is well-balanced with a few easily-achievable goals and a few stretch goals. I was not in the best place when I wrote it, so even as I arrived in England I wasn’t sure if I was going to take it seriously.

Soon after I got back from Barcelona, I opened my neglected, 50-cent Walmart journal and looked at the list once again. It surprised me to see that I had completed a fair few of them since coming to England:

Stay in a hostel
Go to Spain
Go to Stonehenge
Travel by train
Spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with cool people
I certainly have never considered myself a goal-setting person, but being able to cross those particular items off the list felt pretty good. Since coming here I’ve been in constant fear that I’m wasting my nine months in Worcester by taking the occasional chance to relax. Barcelona was fun, probably the best thing I’ve ever done, but I don’t know how ready I am for another big trip. I’ve come to realize that I have no reason to be ashamed of what I do or don’t get a chance to do over here, and measuring my successes against what others are doing is probably not going to end well. It wasn’t really a big revelation, but I feel like it’s an important one nonetheless.
All that said, I have seen some really awesome places. This past weekend I went to London with the UMD group and I got to spend some quality time on the London Underground, chasing the dreams of my past lives. It reminded me of the first time I was really in a big city – Chicago, 2010, band and choir trip. Back then, I said I wanted to move to a metropolis only because I knew I wanted to leave where I was. That feeling certainly hasn’t disappeared, but it has mellowed a bit. I think I’ve come to respect that the choice between an urban and rural lifestyle is not a dichotomy. Being in a big city, surrounded by people and tall buildings and more life than I have ever known gives me a completely different feeling from the isolation that driving on unpaved roads through fields does. And I know these feelings are complementary, and they will be with me forever no matter where I go.
Ultimately, I have but one goal for this year, and it is simple: don’t come back as the same person that left.

Arrival

On Sunday the 8th, I said goodbye to my family and friends in Minnesota and left home for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport.

For the entire week leading up to my departure, I focused a lot on how sad it would be – to leave everything and almost everyone I knew behind. And it was – but I was kind of disconnected from the fact that nothing’s really ending permanently.

In fact, so much is only just beginning.


The 8 hour flight was my first ever airplane experience. I was pretty nervous, but it actually went very well. Aside from the fact that I didn’t get much sleep and had very little leg room, I’d say it actually went pretty well. Even the food was good acceptable. At some point, as I was watching the plane slowly fly over the Atlantic on the small screen in front of me, it hit me that this was the farthest I had ever been from home. I had done it! I finally left!

We were greeted in London at Heathrow by fog and rain. We did just arrive in England, after all. After getting through customs and collecting our bags, we boarded a large coach bus that took us to our eventual destination: Worcester, England.

By the time I finally got to a bed and was able to sleep, about 18 hours had passed. At that point, it still felt like I had just left Minneapolis.

The next two days have been a whirlwind of activity, from registration to grocery shopping to walking many miles around Worcester. I don’t start classes until the 23rd of September, and all the weekdays before that are filled with orientation activities. It will be nice to start class and get a routine, but I’m also kind of afraid that I won’t like the classes (“modules”). I supposed this is just normal start-of-the-year anxiety!

Looking ahead, it seems like the possibilities are endless. The entire group has been dreaming big about trips around Europe and I can only hope that I will get to make the most of this long trip.