Indiana University Overseas Study

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Last week, I had an epiphany sitting in the chair at my dentist appointment. As my dental hygienist and I were talking about my upcoming trip to Australia, one of the first questions she asked me was “does your dorm have air conditioning?” and while I sat there for 20 minutes with tools in my mouth preventing me from talking, it hit me that I quite frankly know nothing about what’s about to happen to me. I had no clue whether there was air conditioning in my dorm, let alone what phone plan I was supposed to get or how to transfer my money to Australian currency.

Most people I run into ask questions like “Aren’t you SO excited?!” and “Have you started packing yet??” when they find out I’m studying abroad. Well, first thing’s first—I’m writing this a week before I leave and I have yet to even think about packing. But what’s more alarming to me when people ask me those questions is the fact that I haven’t actually felt all that excited to leave. It doesn’t seem appealing to not be able to see my family, friends, and boyfriend for five whole months. I love my roommates, I love IU, and I especially love Bloomington. Why would people voluntarily leave something that is so good to them?

Well, things have a way of seeming surreal until they’re actually happening—studying abroad is no exception to that. You don’t actually know what they will be like or what’s in store, but little reminders (like going to the dentist) keep telling you that it’s coming up, it’s happening, it’s inevitable. I have known since November that I was going to be spending a semester in Australia, but I hadn’t been faced with the realities that go along with that decision until now. With this intimidating realization, I can only remind myself of why I chose to study abroad in the first place.

I have long struggled with the pressures that come along with being a pre-med student at IU. Classmates seem to be members of every club on campus, all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA and volunteering on the weekends. I quickly fell into the trap of academic and professional pressure, always wondering if I would ever be enough. Studying abroad came out of the conclusion that I desire to be more than words on a resume. I want to truly live out those words so that people around me can testify what type of person I am by my actions.

So, I could either ignore that voice inside me, or I could start doing things to grow and better myself. If I do know one thing about myself, it’s that I love a good adventure. However, adventure forces you to turn away from what’s familiar in order to turn towards the unknown. It’s the simple beauty of adventure. Explorers may have no idea what’s ahead of them, but they do know it can only be good. They thrive for something different, something to stimulate a different part of their brain that’s never been aroused before. I want to see different sights, feel different feelings, and learn things about the world that I would never learn by simply staying put. What better way to do these things than studying abroad? I’ve made the choice, paid the fees, and said goodbye. Now it’s just time to sit back and hope the person next to me on the 16 hour flight and I get along!

Hollay Paddack - exploring the ecological diversity in Australia

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