I’ve read enough year abroad posts by now to know that I would be terribly amiss not to write something the day before I take off. It is the day before I take off, and I’ll be damned if you’ll catch me amiss.
I’m not going to propose anything new here. I’m going to follow the year abroad blog (henceforth, forever: YAB) tropes down to a T, because they’re tried and true. So you understand what’s coming now: anxiety and fear.
I’d like to begin the segment on anxiety and fear by noting, somewhat oddly, that I’m appreciative of its appearance. I was waiting for it to come, but for the longest time it just wouldn’t arrive, and I was beginning to grow existential and worried. Such thoughts crossed my mind as: “Perhaps this is how it goes. You feel intensely for a short period of time in early life, then slowly, by degrees, you feel less, until you feel no more.” I’m glad to reveal that I was wrong. Just yesterday the anxiety struck open my cold and stony heart like a thunderbolt sent from Zeus. Bizarre, molten emotions poured out, strange internal convulsions reminiscent of both fear and heartbreak, but shaded all in the hue of excitement and gratitude. I’m alive again.
Still, though, it’s burning. It’s a burning sensation. I can’t help but feel, somehow, that of all the people off to do a year abroad, I am somehow singularly the least equipped for it. I somehow feel as though I, of all people going anywhere, know the language of the host country the least. I made the mistake of watching a YouTube video in Italian a few hours ago and I baulked. In fact, it’s still open, unfinished. I should like to submit to any poor, younger soul reading this, who will one day be soon to embark upon their year abroad: if language-wise, you feel ill-equipped, I feel worse. And if I survive the coming months, then certainly so shall you. (Do continue reading to check if I survive the coming months, though.)
Anyway, it’s pretty hilarious that I’m going to a country where I don’t speak the language. I do read it pretty well, though. I’m not entirely hopeless. I just have difficulty understanding it aurally and will have a, let’s say, interesting time trying to communicate any semblance of personality to people I’m going to meet, to people I’m going to try to rent from.
That is worth mentioning too. I’m going to this country, where I don’t speak the language (yet); I have booked myself a room in a place that calls itself a hotel, but unabashedly looks like a hostel that looks like a hospital, for ten days with the intention of finding more permanent lodgings in that time. It’s only dawning on me now that I’m going to have to speak on the telephone to strangers in a language I don’t speak in order to find said lodgings. Have I used the word interesting to describe how this will be yet?
I want to give you more information too, just so that if you are reading this and trying to compare your scenario to others, I might alleviate your woes. I’m going in entirely alone. Entirely alone. I know of people also going to Bologna, but of those, I only semi-know one well enough to speak to regularly, and the rest are a mystery, delightful as they may be. This one person that I do speak to already has her lodgings sorted and arrives later than me. In any case, I arrive alone, knowing nobody, not speaking the language really, and in desperate need to flat hunt. Interesting.
I’m intrigued, though. When you start off this low, things can only go up (oh, how I know the truth of this message). The human spirit is shockingly durable and adaptable. I’ll learn and I’ll survive and I’ll grow, and I think that, more or less, is the point. The point of doing things wildly, vastly, unbelievably outside your comfort zone is to learn, survive, and grow, and as reasonably as possible, I intend to keep doing this.
Anyway, so I’m flying to Italy tomorrow. Whatevs.