My what a busy month it’s been! Just moved into a new house and I have been trying to get my stuff organized before I go. Also I’ve been working hard to get all of the little logistical and bureaucratic study abroad things taken care of, like my rent, bills, visa, plane tickets, internship, financial aid, homestay, etc. All while wrapping up and/or carefully handing over the campaigns I have been working on, as the Student Body President at PCC. With everything going on in my life, I hadn’t really had much time to spend with my feelings, until now that I’m on my break. It’s such a funny, dramatic mix of feelings.
My vocabulary fails me to explain how excited I am for this trip. This trip that I hadn’t really believed could ever happen, but always wanted. This trip that I have planned and struggled so very hard for, for a year and a half. It’s taken writing 10 essays, being awarded 3 study abroad scholarships, and going through a college transfer (after my home institution cut their entire study abroad program in September) to make this possible. There is no doubt in my mind that big, fat tears of relief and joy will be streaming down my cheeks the moment my feet touch British soil and the reality rushes through me. Just, wow. I’m not only on my way to Europe, I’m going there as a college student. Rewind my life two and a half years (before Cicely Rogers and Ellie Rose told me about the student support programs and scholarships they’d benefited from); I had no idea that college was a realistic option for me at all. Back then, I would have scoffed at the preposterousness of this story. But now it’s really happening.
The closer it gets, the more real it becomes. I find myself worrying about silly things. Like, if I get hit by a car and die, how is my body dealt with?! But also not-so-silly things. Like, homesickness. I’m leaving my son for longer than I’ve ever been away from him. Surely, this will be very difficult. Not only that; I’m leaving behind all of my friends, family, and support networks. I will be a complete stranger, no reputation, starting from scratch. Having never lived anywhere but my little-big-city hometown, Portland, this will be all new like nothing I have ever experienced. However, a life without a few shake-ups now and then is not a life worth living and this is the best kind of shake-up I can think of. How truly lucky I have become that this is what I have to worry about right now.
Folks have been doing a good job of injecting me with generous doses of friendship energy to tide me over. My coworkers, in the student government, surprised me on my last day with really sweet gifts and they all sang me a goodbye song that they wrote for me. Jei even learned how to play the ukulele. Faculty, students, and staff at the college have been wonderfully generous with thanks and praise for my service as President. This Friday, I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and family one last time for a going away party just before I take off. All this love and support has me feeling like a million bucks. It’s nice to know that my life and my work means something to people.
Knowing this gives me confidence that, by this time next month, I’ll be fully immersed in a great internship, helping people and building new friendships in my new queer community. So far, there have been four internships interested in me. If any one of them takes me on, I’m bound for a powerful experience. It’s really great that this is part of the program. I mean, who would I even be if I wasn’t working on some sort of human services or social justice? Also I just got word that they have found me the perfect homestay!
This is all shaping up to be an unforgettable journey. It’s really hard to not fall back on cliches, like “I can’t believe this is happening” and “this is going to be so amazing” or to avoid thinking goofy tourist stuff like ‘what if I got to meet cool comedian celebrities like Adrian Edmundson or Richard Ayoade or Eddie Izzard!’ I also get so excited thinking about visiting all the museums and devouring the historical knowledge. The possibilities race through my mind. Despite all of the hard work to get me this far, it still just seems so surreal. It sounds so funny coming out of my mouth. Thank you to all the donors who made this possible!!! T minus 5 days, 18 hours, until touch down…