The first step to travelling abroad is to get a passport, so I went to Walgreens to get my picture taken. After ten minutes of waiting, a disgruntled cashier came over to the abandoned photo counter, told me to stand against the blank wall, and snapped my picture. She said it would be ready in ten minutes. I always thought you could check to make sure the picture was fine, but I trusted the judgement of the photographer. When I got my pictures a little while later, I thought there had been some mistake. Clearly the photos they gave me belonged to a ghost white, orangish-blonde haired, glow-in-the-dark green eyed alien from Mars with a bad attitude. I asked if she could retake them, and she rolled her eyes and said I would have to pay for new ones. I checked my empty wallet and decided that was impossible because there was nothing inside. I sent in the pictures, so I could get my passport by the due date. Despite having an alien’s passport, I was jazzed to start the rest of the study abroad process.
That, apparently, involved paperwork. A lot of paperwork. There were forms for everything: emergency contacts, declarations, honor codes, personal details, secondary personal details, tertiary personal details, and personal preferences. I knew once I did all of that, though, I could look forward to the trip of a lifetime, so I happily picked up my pen and got to work. A month of excitement went by, and the next step of the process was revealed to be more paperwork; this time for the group flight, adopt-a-family, and housing cancellations. Then came the fun part, which also involved paperwork. Looking through the course catalog to fill out my form for classes, I was thrilled about all of the classes being offered that I wanted to take: The Beatles class, British studies, the cultural history of alcohol, history of the Atlantic world, Shakespeare, media writing, and descriptive astronomy. Then I thought 22 credit hours might be a little bit too much, so I decided on four and turned in my sign-up sheet a month early in anticipation.
Also tops on my list of excited-screaming topics were booking trips. I spent an entire Sunday reading all of the trip descriptions and deciding all of them were must-see places. I checked my bank account balance, realized I was broke, and picked my top four choices: Oxford/Stonehenge/Bath (because Stonehenge looks too awesome for words), Cadbury (because who doesn’t want to go to a world of chocolate?), Stratford (because Shakespeare is my favorite superhero), and London (because how can you go to England and not visit London?). Then I promised myself to bother all of my relatives for money this Christmas.
After another month of count-down anticipation December came, and my inbox was flooded with Harlaxton emails. With every email I got more and more excited and more and more anxious at everything I still needed to do. I have to print out my ticket, so I’m not stranded at the airport; remind my bank about my over-seas transactions, so they don’t cancel my account; apply for a credit card because plastic is better than paper; and get enough cold medicine to escape the “Harlaxton Plague” that I’ve heard so much about. The one thing I don’t have to worry about is packing. My suitcase has been packed and sitting by the front door since I got my acceptance letter.