Indiana University Overseas Study


“…and sometimes you must, be reckless with your limitations.”

In exactly 24 hours, I’ll be boarding a plane. A big, spacious one with movies and dinner and plenty of overhead storage space. I’ll attempt to sleep, but I’m not anticipating much rest. I’ll watch as the plane on the screen at the front of the cabin slowly moves farther and farther from Philadelphia, across the Atlantic Ocean and to my destination: London, the land of the Tube, double-decker buses, palaces, Ferris wheels, pubs, museums, and parks. I’ll land in Heathrow airport, suitcase and duffel in tow, alone. Sounds reckless to me.

Despite all the excitement and the “Wow! You’re going to London?” comments from my parents’ friends, I must admit these past few days haven’t exactly been easy. They’ve been like the roller coaster version of the London Eye (which would be a pretty epic roller coaster).

One minute, I’m looking up flights from London to Lisbon, Portugal, and researching weekend adventures to Prague. The next, I’m struggling to assuage my fears about culture shock, cell phone issues, money issues, losing my passport, and other grown-up problems. I then sit back and give myself the “you’re-being-overly-dramatic” speech, which I’ve had ample time and opportunity to revise. It goes something like this:

You’re going to have the time of your life. You won’t want to leave. You’ve been there before. They speak your language (or a version of it).  London has grocery stores and pharmacies and phone stores and most likely everything else you would ever need. You are not moving to Antarctica. You’ll make new friends. You’ll gain valuable life experience. You CAN conquer the Tube, and Heathrow, and the train system, and European airports in general. You will not lose your passport (repeat this 2-3 times as necessary). America is an iMessage or Skype call away. You will love London.

At the conclusion of this pep talk, which varies in length depending on how much encouragement I need, I’m back to reading about the exhibits at the British Museum, going over my course descriptions, and taking notes from online pub reviews. In the back of my mind, I truly believe everything I tell myself about loving London and having an unforgettable experience. But there is always an element of fear and uncertainty that creeps in, the same feeling I had before I left for my first semester at IU.

I’m about to spend three and a half months in a foreign country, a whole ocean away from home, school, family and friends. What I have to remember is that all of that, everything familiar and comfortable, will still be there when I return in December. This is not the time to be comfortable, to do what I’ve always done, to go through the motions.

“If you must be reckless, and sometimes you must, be reckless with your limitations.” – Leigh Standley

This semester, I want to take a step closer to the edge. Be uncomfortable, in the best way possible. Do things I never dreamed I would do. Check a few items off of my bucket list. Add a few more. Have fun. Learn something. Learn everything. I hope I packed enough.

View all posts by Natalie

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