Correspondents' Corner is a place for The Pendulum's team of international reporters to reflect on their time abroad and share stories about the new cultures they are experiencing.  

If there is anything that I am good at, I would definitely say it is preparation. I take thorough notes before writing any research paper. I had everything I needed for my freshman dorm packed and checked off my list at least two months before move in day. I kept an ongoing list of all of the colleges I visited and what I liked and disliked about each one.

My friends call me obsessive, but all of the research, recording and packing makes me feel more comfortable when approaching any new experience or project, until now.

A couple nights ago, I woke up in tears. I dreamt about going to Barcelona, except everything went wrong.  I forgot my camera, half of my clothes and my contacts.  I got on the wrong flight.  I was alone in the London airport and I had no idea what I was doing. I realized that for once my careful preparation is not comforting me.

When you go through the application process for a semester abroad, the actual experience feels far away.  All of my friends were signing up and constantly discussing which countries and programs would make the coolest trips. It’s surreal that you will be on a different continent with dozens of your best friends.

It’s like when you are in elementary school looking at your high school babysitter and you can’t imagine ever being that old, and then one day you are there. I woke up that night realizing that I am right there - I leave for Barcelona in less than a month. The time I never thought would come is finally here.

It’s easy to say that I am excited, but harder to also admit that I’m nervous. This is the farthest I will ever have been from home for four months. When you are getting ready to leave, everyone tells you about all of the unique classes, incredible trips and different people you will meet, but no one tells you what it is like mentally preparing yourself for living in a different country.

So, I surrounded myself with travel books and country guides, and the more I read, the more I realized that this is exactly why I signed up for a semester abroad to begin with.  I wanted a culture shock.  I wanted to be far away from home, surrounded by new people, places and a different language.  I wanted to discover new places and myself.

Reality has set in. Everything I have carefully planned is approaching, but I am also ready for all of the uncertainties and discoveries.

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