Preparing for Prague

I think the first time it really hit me that I am going abroad for a semester was when I received my Czech visa in the mail. The second time was when I finally sat down and actually opened my suitcase to start packing.

My last couple of days in San Diego have been a whirlwind. It’s been a lot of running errands, doing neglected loads of laundry and just making sure that everything is ready for my trip. And because I clearly have a pack-crastination problem, I seem to have left things until the last minute.

I’ve found myself sitting on my floor in a caffeine-fueled frenzy, the soothing sound of my Czech language app playing in the background, while I try to figure out what items from my Southern California wardrobe should make the trip to central Europe.

“There is a recognizable feeling in the pit of my stomach that signals the start a new journey.”

Aside from just trying to pack the right things, I am also trying to pack everything I need for the next several months into one big suitcase and one travel backpack. I have been telling everyone for weeks “oh I’m not planning on packing much,” and I really didn’t think I was going to. And yet, here I am trying to balance on my bathroom scale with my suitcase to find out that it is, in fact, over the airline’s weight limit.

Time to bump another pair of shoes.

My last-minute travel preparations have also been punctuated with brief trips to the beach to soak up a last few hours of California sunshine and informing my friends that “we HAVE TO go to taco Tuesday, because it’s going to be my last one for the ENTIRE year.” But in all seriousness, my feelings about moving abroad are definitely bittersweet — and not just because I’m worried about my taco prospects over the coming months.

It is almost a sense of déjà vu that echoes previous times of life change: the day before starting kindergarten, middle school, high school or right before I moved down to San Diego for college. There is a recognizable feeling in the pit of my stomach that signals the start a new journey.

I am exhilarated by the thought of stepping into the unknown, but in order to experience these new adventures, it is necessary to let go of what is comfortable and familiar, which isn’t always easy. After moving to San Diego five years ago, it has become my home, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my feeling of sadness about moving away. I am leaving behind my friends, family, classmates, professors, an apartment and a job that I love. However, I know that these are things that shouldn’t be holding me back.

Instead, I smile about how wonderful my life in San Diego has been so far, and I welcome this phenomenal new opportunity that I am so fortunate to have. I get to live and learn in a foreign country, meet people from all over the world and be challenged in countless new ways.

Best of all, it isn’t goodbye San Diego, just “see you later.”

Hayley Chase is a senior majoring in hospitality and tourism management. She is spending a semester abroad at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic.

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