“Isn’t it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties?” -Vaclav Havel, first and former Czech President
Well, the time has come. After years of anticipating my dream to study abroad, it is finally August – and that means finally time to pack, prepare for the journey, and say goodbye to my family. However, as I think about the trip to come, it dawns on me – I have no idea what to expect going into the upcoming semester in Prague.
I’ve been to all the meetings, read the brochures, traveled Europe before – I’ve even been to Prague – but I still find it hard to paint a picture of what the next four months will bring. I’m not scared of traveling, don’t get me wrong, but this is a different trip than any other I’ve been on before. This isn’t the “travel-with-a group-of-American-friends-on-a-tour-bus-for-three-weeks” type of trip. Heck, I’m not even going to be staying with fellow Americans, but living with a strange family of a whole different culture and language. What if they don’t like me, or I don’t like them?
What if I hate my classes?
What if I get lost in the city and can’t think of the right words to ask?
What if there’s an emergency and I need my parents – who are across a whole continent and ocean?
What if – by golly – I pack the wrong clothes, not enough clothes, or too many clothes!?
As the doubt starts piling up, one more thought comes to mind: What if this is one of the greatest experiences of my life? Though there is so much that could go wrong, there is so much more that could go right! I am about to embark on an opportunity of a life time: an opportunity to learn a new language, immerse myself in a unique culture, build relationships with new friends and family, and develop my own independence and education.
Now I still don’t know what to expect – four months in a new city is a mysterious endeavor – but there is comfort in knowing that I have the power to make this semester what I want it to be. Although most of the details are still left uncertain, I cannot let that get in the way of realizing my dream. If I work hard, have an open mind, and a positive attitude, I can accomplish so many great things in four months – and then all of the doubt will fade away.