As I sit here and stare at my prematurely packed luggage, I wonder what bit of insanity prompted me to decide to study abroad in a tiny village way out in Tanzania. This would be my first time leaving the United States (aside from a tiny Canadian excursion when I was too young to remember), and my fears and worries were finally kicking in.
This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is something not many people will ever be able to say that they have done. Not only that, but I will be able to do something I have always dreamed of doing. I will be able to study some of the most unique and intriguing mammals on Earth. From lions, to elephants, to rhinoceros: this is my dream. And although it is exciting and thrilling, there is also nervousness and anxiousness and a whole mess of emotions I’m not quite sure I’ve ever experienced before. I have never had the experience of being in a place where I don’t speak the same language as everyone else; I have never been on a flight longer than four hours, and I have definitely never had to worry about remembering to take malaria prophylactics, or worry about their side effects. All of it is a newness that I’m not sure I will be personally ready for.
However, as I browse through photos of previous students on the program, and watch Youtube videos of past program participants and their Tanzanian silliness, I realize that this is what I’m meant to do. I know that although it may be tough and intimidating at times, this study abroad trip will be one of the highlights of my entire life. It will be something I can look back on fifty years from now and smile at the little bit of insanity that prompted me to study abroad, because it made all the difference in the world.
And so, with my luggage resting in the corner of my room, and the goodbyes to my family looming just around the corner, I know that I am ready. My Tanzanian adventures await.