Sometimes it’s worth getting actively stoked for something. I mean, in the same way that people, when you’re stressed, tell you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, break your problem down into chunks – it’s worth, I reckon, taking a step back, looking at the bigger picture, and just kind of enjoying the view.
It’s been standard procedure for me, when asked whether I’m excited for Italy, to just kind of make a pained face and give a measured response: “I’m excited but also a bit terrified.” It’s true, but it’s also a defence mechanism. Tell them and myself that I’m terrified, be very self-conscious of how difficult this is all going to be, so if I crumble and fall, well, at least I said it first. And this is fine, I guess, at least for a while, but you can’t feed yourself in the long-run on the stuff of self-conscious second-guessing. So I’m now going to make a job of stepping back and kind of just enjoying the view.
Firstly, I get a second chance at first-year-like experience. This sounds like an odd thing to be stoked about, but let me submit that third year in a four year degree is just about the best time to refresh. At this point, you’ve probably cultivated enough memories to last a decade. The sense and feel of your university town is probably somewhat burned into your consciousness now and, while it’s always nice to grow accustomed to a place, it will probably do you good to get to know a new place where the hazy outlines of people in the distance who look like people you once knew intimately for a while don’t frequently galvanise you into fight or flight. Now you’ll get to feel like a fresher again, with the added benefit of not actually being a fresher (namely, aware that you’ll be just fine even if you aren’t a sort of Wildean witticist socialite). You get the renewed excitement of meeting fresh faces and carving your space out in another part of the world. Even if it all falls flat and you succumb to the pressures of being a human being in a language you haven’t really worn into yet, you’ve got the comfort of your uni town to welcome you back next year.
Secondly, no matter what happens, this is going to have been a cool thing to have done. It adds to your profile. You will forever be able to say that in your early 20s, you* went to Italy barely knowing the language, like a courageous immigrant-but-not, that you did your best to develop a somewhat respectable grasp on that language, that you attended lectures in the so-called oldest university in Europe, that you tossed yourself out of your comfort zone and survived. It’s a promising way to start your adult life.
Yeah, no, I’m into this. If you’ll allow me a last minute cliché, I think you grow to welcome the nerves because you know it means you’re doing something exciting. You’re adding to your 1-life narrative. Yeah, I’m down.
*How long ago do you reckon the “you” in this post became a surrogate “I”? This will probably happen a lot here.