9 Thoughts And Concerns I'm Having About Leaving The Country For A Year

by Shelby Newallis

This coming June, I will depart for a yearlong study abroad trip in Italy.

In the past few months, there have been a lot of things preoccupying my mind, which I think comes naturally with leaving your home country and abandoning a certain level of comfort.

Most of the thoughts are just small, detail-oriented things: Should I use a backpack or a suitcase? How many extra passport photos do I need to bring to the consulate? Is a blow dryer really necessary?

These fleeting thoughts happen fairly randomly and in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. Here some thoughts and concerns I’ve had lately about missing American life, among other things, while living in Europe:

1. I’m American, but how do I avoid fitting into one of those dreaded American stereotypes?

Let’s face it: Americans don’t have the best reputation abroad. We’re known to be loud, obnoxious and annoyingly prideful.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my country. I just want Europeans to know that I am not culturally insensitive and I do not think that America is the center of the universe.

2. I’m going to miss Mexican food.

There are a couple of reasons why California is awesome — just kidding, there are a million reasons why California is awesome — and Mexican food is definitely one of them.

Living in California all my life and having a Mexican roommate has led me to have extremely high standards for Mexican food.

Unfortunately, very few places other than California and Mexico itself offer great Mexican food, which makes me sad, because I am seriously going to miss ceviche and chile rellenos.

3. Will I ever learn the purpose of a bidet?

Bidets are seriously everywhere in Europe; I don’t get it. I mean, I understand how they work and all, but I just don’t understand why you would prefer that to good ol' fashioned toilet paper.

4. I suck at math and now I have to learn the metric system.

Yes, the metric system is far more intuitive than what we use in the States, but now, not only do I have to think in another language, I have to think in he metric system as well. I hate conversions, actively avoid mathematical situations and now I have to learn number stuff?!

Not looking forward to that.

5. I want to document my experience, but I don’t want to look like an obnoxious tourist.

You’ve seen the camera whores: people who take photos of literally everything. I secretly want to be that person, but I don’t want to stand out like a tourist — so, how do I become a sneaky picture snapper? That will be a challenge, considering half the time, I think I’m taking a picture and I’m actually recording a video.

I guess I’ll have to work on that one.

6. I’m going to miss “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Mindy Project” and “Game of Thrones.”

As a TV enthusiast and an avid Netflix/HBOGo watcher, I am really going to miss watching all my shows and binge-watching capabilities. It’s not awful news that I won’t be able to watch as much TV; it will be a huge lifestyle adjustment in the right direction.

7. I’ll miss my family and best friends dearly.

Much like freshman year of college, there will probably be a point in the year when I will just break down and cry because I miss my people. I know I’ll have the time of my life studying abroad, but I’ll be away from my family and friends for a long time, which makes me sad.

8. What if I meet the man of my dreams?

Every time I bring up the topic of my leaving for Italy, all of my friends, family and extended relatives are like, "Oh, you’re going to meet the man of your dreams!" Now, I feel like there’s a bit of pressure to meet said man and I don’t know if I am prepared for it.

9. What if I don’t want to come back?

This, for me, is the scariest hypothetical scenario. Family is such a big part of my life and I honestly can’t picture myself living away from them. So, the idea that I may end up wanting to live in a different country is pretty intimidating.

I don’t see the point in dwelling on this for too long, though. Like everything in life, I'll take it one day at a time.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It