Three days ago, I opened my inbox to find a particular e-mail that I had been waiting not-so-patiently to receive.
There, with a simple click of my mouse, sat my information package for my exchange session in Belgium next semester. Cool, right?!
As I read through the package and learned that I had three months before I was expected at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, a number of thoughts ran through my head. In all honesty, I was pretty mixed up in my emotions.
At first, a HUGE wave of relief came over me – apparently, European schools do things very last minute, and for MONTHS I had been worrying that I’d been forgotten or rejected from the program. I finally knew when I would start my classes, and what kinds of things I should be doing to prepare for my departure. Yaaaaaay, progress!
The second thing to happen was, “Oh, crap.” when I thought of all the things I’d have to wrap up at Glendon before I left. I still have my classes and other commitments to follow through on (including some oh-so-lovely paperwork…yuck), and a lot of money to earn to fund my future travels.
Thirdly, a sense of total panic overcame me. I was moving halfway around the world. Across an ocean. To a country I’ve never visited. With people I dont know and who sure as hell don’t know me. On my own. What if something happened medically (a very real concern for someone who is chronically ill)? What if something drastic and awful happened at home while I was away? What if I couldn’t tough out the rain 200 out of 365 days of the year? (Clearly, Belgium is a wet country)
And fourthly, I felt an indescribable sense of premature homesickness.
Leaving Canada means leaving my tight-knit family for 6 months.
Leaving Canada means being separated from friends and colleagues who have become my family in Toronto.
Leaving Canada means a questionable turn in my new relationship.
Leaving Canada means moving out of an apartment with roommates and a neighbourhood that I absolutely love.
Leaving Canada means throwing caution – and routine – to the wind.
Are you overwhelmed yet? Because I sure as hell am.
After telling myself not to panic…and then COMPLETELY ignoring my own advice, I tried to turn my thoughts around.
Arriving in Belgium means attending a university that is world-renowned, and smack-dab in the centre of EU territory. Think of all the cool perspectives and insights I’ll gain on international matters!
Arriving in Belgium means I’m living and learning in French – a language and culture that has always ignited my curiosity and passion. Oh man, can you imagine how much better my understanding and communication of the language will be?
Arriving in Belgium means discovering a new city, neighbourhood, and community. I get excited thinking of how I’ll get to learn a new transit system and explore different quartiers and the shops, restaurants, local culture, and people that will soon be familiar to me.
Arriving in Belgium means my insatiable sense of wanderlust will FINALLY be explored. I’ve got Europe at my doorstep, baby! Bring on the unique food, stunning photo ops, incredible people, and unforgettable adventures!
Arriving in Belgium means six months to discover a new part of myself. All the world’s a stage! Ain’t that right, Shakespeare?
It’s going to be a rough three months, I know. I’m going to be an emotional roller coaster (early apologies to all those who come in close contact with me). I will have some tough decisions and plans to make. I will undoubtably be running around like a chicken with my head cut off applying for a visa, finding a place to live, buying the cheapest possible airfare, and ticking off every insurance box that I can.