As JWU student Angelina Jorge sits and thinks on a plane en route to Costa Rica, she shares her anxiety over leaving all that she knows for this study abroad trip. Could she have been so busy planning that she forgot to be excited?
It seems so surreal that I am leaving for Costa Rica in just a few hours. I guess I was so busy getting ready for the trip that I forgot to be excited for it. I had checklists among checklists of things to buy, things to bring, things not to forget. I had quite a handful of homework assignments, research papers, and documentary analysis to do. Within all of the planning and preparation alongside my hours at work, there was almost no time to be excited. People would ask me on a daily basis: “Only ___ more days to go! You excited?” And I would always give them what they wanted to hear: “Oh my gosh, you have no idea!”
In reality, the excitement was not there. Don’t get me wrong, it was at one point. When I received my acceptance letter in November, I was overwhelmed with so much excitement and joy that I cried. But now, as I sit alone at this gate waiting to board, I realize I am filled with nervousness and fear. I do not miss the excitement nor do I wish I had it back. I believe that fear exists in all of us to serve a purpose. My fear is of failure; one I’m sure a lot of share.
Horseback riding, white water rafting, hanging bridges, canopy tours, zip lining, hiking, beaches! It all seems like a dream, as though I am going on vacation, right? This study abroad opportunity is not only academically stimulating but emotionally and physically challenging as well. The truth of the matter is that every moment I spend away from my husband, my family, and my friends, I have to fight back the tears. What if I fail my classes? What if I break a leg in the rain forest? What if I get mugged or lost? There is so much to consider and no time to hesitate.
Furthermore, as an American citizen, it does not matter what ethnic background I hail from; here, I am American. And as an American, my actions, behaviors, mannerisms, and attitude will all be judged as “the American way." I feel a great sense of responsibility to show everyone that we are not rude or obnoxious or culturally insensitive. What questions are we leaving behind in the people we meet? What name are we making for ourselves as Americans/Johnson & Wales students? Representing your country, away from your country, involves thinking about every single move and breath you take before you take it.
I believe I was chosen for a reason and I intend to do great things while I’m there. But right now, this very second, as I sit here waiting to board…. I am scared. And that’s the honest truth.