I should take a break from packing.

With my flight to Oslo only days away, the realization of what I’m doing hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I’m sure it’ll be a bag of bricks when it does. Being such a shy introverted person brimming with anxiety, I honestly have no idea how I’ve convinced my parents and made this work. I’m not really the pro-active or assertive type. But I’ve wanted to study abroad ever since I began college (possibly influenced by my brother studying in Tokyo my freshman year), but I was too terrified when I was a rising sophomore, and I lost my chances the summers of 2020 and 2021. After plans for me and my friend to study at Oxford didn’t work, I accepted that I probably wouldn’t get to study abroad. Then, my senior year, my friends encouraged my interest in studying in Norway. And I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

So, here I am seven months after that initial conversation– a recent graduate with a freshly mailed diploma endlessly scrolling through job listings– stuffing my aunt’s gold suitcase with athleisure and sweaters. I have a new acceptance now: that I’m not my idea of the average study abroad student. I’m a transient/non-degree seeking student, and I’m getting credits that I don’t need but will eventually end up on my transcript anyway. And my odd student status also makes me a little older than my classmates, being that I’m on the cusp of 23. That makes me feel insecure, and I have no idea why.

Maybe it has something to do with me being that “shy introverted person brimming with anxiety.” I know that’s been a big topic in my head these past few years. I even wrote a nonfiction piece trying to determine why someone like me, who basically has to be forced to go outdoors, likes traveling so much. The closest I could get to an answer was a mixture of jealousy of my friends and family who vacation so much and a desire to see more of what makes the world so diverse and beautiful. Getting those feelings on paper probably explains why I immediately afterwards fought so desperately to make this trip work. Luckily, one of the judges of the UA undergraduate creative writing contest I submitted my piece to liked it enough to award me money that I eventually put towards this trip to further explore that answer. Perhaps I can find another one in the cool fjord waters of Norway.

I should probably get back to packing.