By: Lenelle Jordan Kutzner, University of Victoria, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.
Well, here I am; two more sleeps and I’m off to Europe for the first time! At this point, my suitcase has hardly been touched, I have no shampoo or conditioner, and have a mountain of neglected dirty laundry waiting for me. The program I will be doing in Germany is a six-and-a-half-week intensive language immersion program. I will be living with a host family for the duration of my stay, and as far as I know, they speak little to no English (which is both nerve-wracking and wonderful!). I’m certain that living in a German household will provide even more opportunity for me to learn and understand the language. However, it will also certainly challenge me by forcing me to communicate with my broken language skills. Luckily, I know two people from my German class who are also in the program- a comforting thing to have when being thrown into complete language immersion.
It’s funny how, when you have exciting future plans, it’s so easy for them to become familiar yet so foreign. I’ve been asked about and have talked about this trip for four months now. My expectations and hopes have been formed and played over in my head; images of what the city looks like, the neat bars we’ll find- all the adventures to come. However, the fact that I’m embarking on it in two days is completely surreal, and I know that as soon as I land, all my expectations and mental images will be replaced by the reality and originality of the actual experiences. I spoke about these plans with such confidence and excitement, which are feelings that I hope will endure throughout the actual journey! I acknowledge that it won’t all be fun- there may be stress, home sickness, or just general overwhelming feelings that come with culture shock. However, I also know that those are all part of the experience and growth that come with international experiences! It’s easy to let the nerves take over, but when I think about how much I’m going to gain from this trip, I instead become filled with wonder and excitement.
My mind is racing with excitement, nerves, and wonder. As of right now, my main concerns are doing my hardly-started homework assignment, getting to the airport/ my flights on time, and remembering my passport! I’ll take the rest of the challenges as they come. Stay tuned!