Thursday, 29 December 2011

Introducing Gina Filo

1 December 2011

There are a lot of things that I should be doing right now. There is a massive German paper lurking guiltily around the edges of my conscience. There are three upcoming exams for which I really ought to be preparing. And there's a healthy pile of Ramen-encrusted forks lying on my desk, waiting to be washed and silently indicting me for my neglect.

But I can't.

A college student procrastinating at the end of the semester, how novel, I know. This time, though it is more than just the run-of-the-mill Facebook,, and aimlessly prowling the hallways hoping to run into someone with whom to share my time-wasting.

Today was the last meeting before we leave for Harlaxton, and my head will not stop going! Most thoughts are full of excitement and anticipation for sure - I'm going to ENGLAND! - but every once and a while, my euphoria is undercut by nerves and worries. Some very trivial (How will I survive four months without Diet Coke?) but some very real (How am I going to manage both school and travel?).

I've been overseas once before. After my senior year of high school, I spent three weeks in Germany with a school group. It was a fantastic experience. But compared to this trip, it was a piece of cake. It was summer - no schoolwork. Our entire trip had been pre-planned - we didn't have to stress about arranging day trips. We lived with families, and the homey atmosphere was relaxing. And my German was good enough that, other than an unfortunate incident in which I said "Gift" (poison) instead of "Geschenk" (gift), the language wasn't really a problem. The whole trip was three weeks of soaking up the local culture, meeting new people, and eating delicious bread, cheese and chocolate.

But this time is different. This time we're adults. This fact is exhilarating (FREEDOM!), but a little scary. And I know that the wonderful staff at Harlaxton is not going to abandon us in the middle of the woods. And my brain is aware that I'm fully capable of taking care of myself. These facts don't stop me from worrying, however. While I know this experience will be worth every penny and more, I have real, grown-up concerns about the resilience of my bank account. I've also got worries about the balance of schoolwork and travel. Will I be so focused on schoolwork that I forget to have fun? Conversely, will I be having such an incredible time traipsing through the United Kingdom that I let my grads fall by the wayside? And even contemplating the packing process is stressful - four months in one suitcase and a backpack. What clothes will I bring? More importantly, what novels can I bring? Mind-boggling.

For the most part, these worries don't weigh too heavily on my mind. My daydreams revolve around exploring London with my friends, living in a real manor house, shopping at Topshop, and seeing a Shakespeare play at Stratford, and my preparations are largely practical - calling my credit card company and buying all-weather boots are on my to-do list. But every once and a while, anxiety begins to creep in. At the end of the day, I'm a little nervous, but even more, I'm excited to experience a new culture and a way of life with some of my best friends. About one month from now, I will be in England. Fancy that.

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