Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Introducing Amanda Oaks

1 December 2011

Harlaxton Preparations: The Expectation, the Excitement, and Mostly, the Nerves

Just a few days ago I received what is, quite possibly, the most exciting email of my life - my plane ticket to HARLAXTON! The sight of it sitting there, tangible and official, in my inbox left me almost without words. In fact, in a Facebook status typed up just a few moments after I opened the email, all I could say was "Oh my gosh. Plane ticket. Electronic plane ticket. But still, there it is, in my inbox. It exists. It's happening. Oh my gosh." As you can clearly tell, I'm incredibly excited about the upcoming semester.

In fact, the closer it gets, I find myself getting more and more excited, but I also find myself scrambling to make preparations and to be sure I have all the information I need, which means I'm also getting more and more anxious. Whenever I think about it, my heart starts pumping so that I'm almost certain other people have to be able to hear it.

Added to the usual stress of getting prepared to travel is the fact that I have never been out of the country, or even flown on an airplane. I have to admit, the idea of getting into this giant

metal contraption and soaring across the ocean terrifies me. Heck, I'm even afraid to brave the legendary terrors of airport security. I imagine taking off shoes, having something been in the metal detector, getting on the wrong plane, and many other disasters, and that's nothing to how I expect I'll feel once I'm in the sky, of all places. I know flying is a routine thing for some people, but for me it's this impossible thing hanging between me and my semester abroad. Even so, all of these (largely illogical, I'm sure) fears can't curb my enthusiasm.

In a few mere months - provided I survive the flight without succumbing to full-on panic - I will be overseas in Europe! I have dreamed of going to England since I was very young, a desire no doubt fostered by growing up with the Harry Potter books and going through an intense
phase where I read series and the Mates, Dates series -light, fluffy reading I confess, but I enjoyed it and became somewhat infatuated with England. I want to see it all with my own eyes, form my own opinions, perhaps even have an adventure or two.

It is probably partially due to this infatuation that the entire thing still feels a bit unreal - even though I have gotten a passport, purchased a ticket, made down payments on various trips, and have a set of bright purple luggage sitting in my basement, a part of me still doubts that I will ascend into the sky and then descend in another country. A part of me stares in disbelief at the pictures of beautiful Harlaxton Manor, thinking surely I could never actually be in such a place. As I passed around a picture of the manor at Thanksgiving, finding myself the center of attention, I felt every bit as surprised as my family was that I would be living there, studying there, in a matter of a little over a month.

Yet it will be real, and it's approaching rapidly. Time is passing more and more quickly, the information meetings becoming more and more vital as I scramble to understand everything I am going to need for the journey and for my time there. My classes are scheduled, my trips booked, and I am using the idea of a different climate as an excuse to buy myself a few new wardrobe additions - even though I cringe at every little decrease in my bank account because I want to be sure it's prepared to survive the excited spending I anticipate in every single new place I visit.

Despite my misgivings about planes and my worries about being prepared, the emotion I feel most strongly as I get ready to study at Harlaxton is excitement - I can't wait to learn about another culture, to live in another country for a short time, to catalog hundreds of new experiences, as well as take what I'm sure will turn out to be thousands of new pictures. Terrifying death trip across the ocean aside, my Harlaxton semester is drawing near, and I think it's safe to say I have never been more excited, or more anxious about what's to come. Regardless, it's sure to be a memorable and wonderful semester.

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