Pre-Departure – Looking Back

Grace Clarke (University of Maryland – College Park, U.S.A)

So after months of preparation and piles of paperwork, the countdown to leaving quickly went from weeks to days, and before I knew it, I was leaving my house for Manchester airport.

I had spent the past two months of the summer trying to make the most of my time at home with family and friends, and work as much as possible to save up a little extra money. I had been putting off packing for as long as I could, as I knew it was going to be a stressful process of trying to decide which clothes I would need for a year. However, once that was done, I felt much more prepared.

Despite nearly everyone I know asking me about my upcoming trip and how I felt about leaving, I still hadn’t fully got my head around the fact that I was moving to another country and another university for a year. My main concerns were practical things like ‘how soon am I going to be able to buy some bedding?’, so I guess you could say I was pretty relaxed about the whole experience, which I think was somewhat baffling for the people I was leaving behind.

The overriding feeling that I had was definitely excitement. Being quite an extrovert, I didn’t consider the idea of travelling on my own and making new friends as too much of a daunting task. I looked forward to having a fresh start, being able to go somewhere new and meet new people. I was more grateful than ever to have a strong support system back at home, which was made ever more evident when my parents threw me a wonderful surprise leaving party the weekend before I left, and so many close and special people were there.

The ‘goodbyes’ we’re not as difficult as I had anticipated, as I knew that I was the one beginning an invigorating new adventure, from which I would be returning in a year, so it was more of a ‘see you soon’, which I guess gave me comfort. However, leaving my parents at the airport gate at around 5am made everything suddenly seem so real, and the next thing I knew I was boarding my flight to Washington Dulles!

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