Like everyone else who’s traveling abroad, I really wanted to make the whole process as seamless as possible. I wanted to know every phone number to contact in the case of any emergency, ever; I wanted to know the layout of all three of the airports I would be visiting; and, most importantly, I wanted to reassure myself that I had every single thing I needed in my luggage while keeping it way under fifty pounds.
This is just as difficult to deal with as it sounds.
I’m super excited for Rome and seeing everything it has to offer, but the logistics of it trip me up sometimes. What if I forget this thing, or that thing, and everything falls apart? What if my entire trip is hinging on one item that I conveniently forget to bring?
I spent the better part of finals week and early May worrying about things like this. I’d be dozing off, then remember to pack that shirt or those socks, and hop out of bed to toss it into my suitcase!
In the midst of trying not to forget anything, though, I started to question my catastrophic predictions—would it really be that bad if I forgot a stick of deodorant or a pair of pants I really liked? I made sure I had the essentials, like my medications, chargers, phone and laptop, but started to become a little less worried about the consequences.
I think I had a revelation that being a little troubled and figuring things out is part of the experience. As inconvenient as it might be to forget something, I could immediately see myself going out into the city, learning more of the language as I went to acquire what I needed, and feeling the satisfaction after attaining it. I wasn’t eager to empty my whole suitcase and jump into another continent without a second thought, but I was starting to get excited about the concept of establishing some semblance of independence.
And, of course, I know that I have Temple Rome to assist me if anything is too difficult for me, and the staff make it so easy for me to reach out. The amount of resources available at Temple Rome are so vast that I almost felt overwhelmed trying to take it all in, but I still feel as if I know exactly who to call and where to go if I’m missing something important, need anything, or just want some reassurance that I can make it through the semester and have some great experiences.
After that, it somehow became more fun to prepare for the program. Now that I was running errands without my own internal pressure on my back, I could fully enjoy everything that I was doing, knowing that it was going towards my new adventure.
My attitude towards packing and getting myself together was a lot less funky after turning my anxiety into anticipation. While I still felt crunched for time—going from doing finals, moving out of campus, going back to Maryland, and then flying off to Rome all in the span of about two weeks—every second I spent did have a purpose, and watching my clothes pile up in my suitcase made it all come together.
That being said, there was still quite a lot to do, even in the “post-anxiety” era. Aside from packing, I had to get enough medications to last me for six weeks, coordinate my internship (which I’ll talk about in another post!), and see everyone from my family before I go. Six weeks is a weird period of time—it’s not even half of a regular semester, so it feels short, especially since I want to see everything Rome has to offer. But I’ve never been out of the country internationally, and I’ve never been away from my family for that long, so it simultaneously feels like forever.
So, my last week or two leading up to departure was spent seeing everybody that I could, eating a few of my favorite American foods, and not-too-obsessively checking to make sure I had everything I needed to pack. Between destressing from spring finals, seeing my family and friends, and getting ready to go, time started to close in on me.
The few times I felt really panicky about leaving, it seemed like a message or a reminder of some sort from Temple Rome would come in from the Discord server or my email. I would be reminded of my courses, or what to pack, or see a message from one of the students in my cohort asking a question. Those little things were enough to reassure me that I wasn’t going to be thrown to the wolves; I was traveling in a program run by Temple, the school that nurtured me through my freshman year and a pandemic—of course I’d be able to handle a trip to Rome.
Even though my wings are a little shaky, this owl is ready to fly!