Packing day! Suitcase lays open! I play with a new camera while spending time with Miki, my cockatiel. My daughter has graduated high school and is working on her own preparations to become a University of Massachusetts Boston student. I keep unpacking and repacking unsure of what to take. All important papers are copied and placed in different pieces of luggage. Budget is made! My heart beats with anticipation grateful that my mom and stepfather are able to be here for Rose while I am gone. They have been such a driving force and extremely encouraging. “You are not too old!” They reassure me. How exciting, exhilarating and a little scary. I am embarking on an adventure I never dreamed yet as soon the idea sparked, the process of reality was born. It had begun as a wish in passing. I chose to add German as a minor. My professor saw my interest and I was added to the German group email list. It was there I saw the opportunity to study abroad in Germany. I pushed the thought aside thinking, “Naw, not me. I’m too old. I’m a mom. I can’t afford to pay for it or take time off work. Work won’t give me time to go no matter how accommodating they usually are. I can’t leave my daughter. My bird will forget me” All these negative thoughts ran through my mind. It was an uphill battle pushing those thoughts away, one by one. “I can and will do this!” It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would regret it for the rest of my life if I allowed myself to be overtaken by these fears. I had to trudge forward and do my best to make a glimmer of a thought into a reality. I began my preparations beginning with choosing where to go and applying for a spot. The University of Kassel was offering an interesting module perfect for an English major with a class on the Brothers Grimm.
My host family contacted me Friday. They seem genuinely nice and live in a town just outside of Kassel, Germany but within Hesse where the university is located. New fears assaulted me because of my age. How will they react to hosting an older student who is not the same age as their own college aged children? Are they given information about me before they agree to house me or is all there is about me a surprise? I am hoping it is the former. I am a little afraid, yet grateful. I hope they like me. I know there is nothing to fear. They will like me. I cannot wait to meet them in less than a week’s time.
The packing to-do list is almost complete. The hotel confirmations are coming in. My mom helped me to investigate the best airline as well as places to stay in the interims during my travels. I was completely unsure of when I would be meeting up with the school officials, so I decided to arrive a day early and found a cute little hotel in Old Frankfurt. It will be neat to walk around, have a glass of beer, and try the local cuisine. It will allow some time for rest a little before meeting everyone at the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (train station). My return flight does not leave until July 24th which has enabled me to make plans to take a train to Paris for two days where I will visit the Louvre and allow my creative writing juices flow.
This is an exciting dream coming to fruition. I am proud of myself for not smothering the seed of an idea and jumping into the deep surpassing all obstacles and fears! I am excited to have the opportunity to share this adventure with everyone and to be a beacon of hope for students who are older and not allowing age to be a reason to not follow through. Studying abroad is possible for anyone who so desires it.
*Originally posted June 18, 2018 for UMass Study Abroad Blog