It's June 16, 2015. An estimated two months until I was officially a Tufts freshman and thrust head first into the jungle that is college. A day before I departed alone for a six week adventure in Europe. And yet, I was more concerned with what was to come within the next few months than the next 24 hours. Was I ready for college? My mind was filled with worry, drowning me in an endless flood of questions: Would I make friends? Would my roommate like me? Would my professors like me? And how in the world was I going to do my own laundry? Make my own food? I was a complete wreck. Coming from a small private school in an even smaller state (Delaware) it had taken me a few years to click with people and establish a steady friend group. And suddenly it was slowly dawning upon me that everything was coming to a close, and what was once a daily routine would become a distant memory: walking to class with all my friends. Sitting at the round table in the college counseling office giggling and gossiping with Mrs. Ogden from next door. Making faces at friends in classroom settings from the hall in an attempt to get them to laugh. Narrowly dodging our Spanish teacher's quick turning head to see who dared disrupt her class. Prom ask preparations. Pre-prom-ask jitters. Two hours of sports practice running the hills of Rockford park with the track team. Midnight drives through the empty roads of Greenville, Delaware, the music dial turned all the way to the right as we sang at the top of our lungs to whatever song was currently being overplayed on the radio. These were the things I lived for. The nights I'd remember. And I couldn't imagine anything ever being any different.
Fast forward a few hours and I suddenly found myself in Waterloo, Belgium, surrounded by family I had never met and in a foreign country where I didn't speak a word of the native tongue. My father had not talked to his Belgian family in over thirty years, so when he and my aunt finally reconnected through email, it had been decided that I would pack up my things and go live with them for a month in a half just as my aunt had done (although in the opposite direction, traveling from Belgium to America) when she was eighteen. Suddenly I realized that I had been fretting so much about college that I had neglected to see the opportunity presenting itself to me in this moment. Here I was, months before my arrival at Tufts, experiencing the very things I had been so scared to face in the months to come. Here I was, realizing how useless my endless fret and panic had been. I had to swallow my fears and make the best of my situation. I was here, I had to act now. I had to live in the now. And I couldn't let petty worries stop me from enjoying what was going to be one of the best summers of my life.
Fast forward to August 3, 2015. My six weeks are up: I have wandered through the winding streets of Brussels, roamed the narrow alleyways of Paris, and navigated the quiet waterways of Amsterdam. And yet... Suddenly I find myself back at my home in Wilmington, Delaware, surrounded by my family. About to go meet my friends. Hopping into my car to go meet people and experience the open road. Enjoy the fresh air. And yet I am a different person. I have become a different person. These questions that once consumed me now barely cross my mind - they are an anomaly that I push to the back of my head and laugh at. What was I so worried about? Why did I fret so? My six weeks abroad had taught me to think differently. They had answered my many questions and shaped me into a new person ready to face the challenges and joys that came with starting college. I no longer dreaded my arrival to campus - I LONGED for it. The end of August could not come sooner.
If I had to sum up the lessons I will take with me to college from my six weeks abroad, they would have to be these: