Everybody tells you that your year abroad is the best year of your life. The new sights, the new people, a whole new way of life – what’s not to love?
In September, I’ll be heading off to live in Russia for a year. Tickets were booked last week, and everybody else is already dreaming of eating caviar in a city where the sun never sets.
The only problem is that I’m still stuck between a sense of adventure and a sense of terrible, dreadful, inescapable, impending doom. I’ve never been to Russia. I don’t know anyone who’s ever been there. It’s starting to feel like I don’t know anything at all. Suddenly, I’ve realised that the ability to down five shots of vodka in sixty seconds is not going to help me - and as this is what I’ve been spending that last two years practicing, I’m pretty devastated.
I’m scared. Very scared. Right now, I think hiding in my parents’ shed for a year seems like a very good alternative – and I know I’m not the only one. Actually, there are probably so many of us crazy, worrying, year-abroad fearing students in Sheffield, we’ll be fighting for free shed space by the end of July.
So before the squabbles over our favourite flowerpots begin, it’s time we worriers united and started to face facts. Year abroad is not going to disappear. So isn’t it time to embrace the stress? A little bit of worrying gets things done. My visas? Ready. Insurance? Done. Travel vaccines? Sorted. Everything done five months early – of course.
We’ve all be taught from the age of six that super-organised scheduling does not equal cool. (Think about it – did you ever see Kenan and Kel say: “I’ve had enough orange soda for one day- I’m really nervous for the exam, let’s go and prepare extra early?’) But, honestly, nothing makes me feel better about my trip abroad than some slightly stressed nerding out.
Yes, fellow year abroaders – it’s time to embrace the fear. It doesn’t matter that we’re all twenty-something and are supposed to pretend like we know what we’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that a colour-coded to do list will make you feel so much better.
We all know that our year aboard is supposed to be one of the best years of our lives – but no one ever said it was going to be easy. Why shouldn’t you do whatever it is that’s going to make you feel better – even if that’s just good, pure geekiness?
Being cool? I couldn’t care less.