While I’ve always dreamed of traveling the world, I’ve never actually been out of the country- until this summer. In just a few days, I’ll be in Brussels, Belgium, participating in a faculty-led study abroad program. The program lasts about three and a half weeks, after which I’ll spend another week in London with family.

Preparing to go abroad reminds me of preparing to start freshman year of college- a little apprehension, a lot of paperwork and planning, but mostly excitement. One of concerns is my ability to embrace the culture in Belgium and experience it to the fullest without speaking the language. Although most Belgians speak English as well as French and Dutch, I’m brushing up on a few French phrases (thanks Duolingo) beforehand so I can at least make an effort in situations with French speakers.

Another concern I have is packing- as a chronic overpacker, it’s hard for me to fit a month’s worth of belongings in just one suitcase and one carry on bag! I think spending a month abroad will be a great experience in living minimally. As I pack, I have to remind myself that I’ll have access to laundry, and can buy nearly anything I forget there.

Most of all, I’m beyond excited for this experience. I can’t wait for visits to diplomatic institutions, weekend trips to Paris and London, and basically taking in all that Belgium has to offer. Although I have no doubt it will be an incredible time, I’m keeping an open mind and my expectations to a minimum. As they say in Belgium, vaarwel/au revoir!