Terrified Traveler

Here at Literally, Darling we have had a couple articles on how much fun traveling is, as well as advice on what to bring on trips. Our amazing writers make it sound so exciting and life affirming.

I, however, am terrified of traveling.

The only trip I have been on outside of the country was a one week trip to Japan, during which, as my mother loves to remind me, I wanted to come home by the second day. Despite my previous experience, I have signed up to go abroad for a whole semester in London. While I am excited to be going, I seem to become more anxious as the summer disappears. Each time I log onto my email to find a new email from my host university I experience excitement and anxiety all at once. I am quickly learning that planning to spend three months in a foreign country is less glamorous than I thought.

The origin of this anxiety started months earlier, at the beginning of my spring semester. My school required us to take a pre-departure, semester long class, which only increased my paranoia about living in a foreign country. Our second class was on drinking too much alcohol, which was followed by a lovely movie on rape and a discussion about rape culture in other countries. This class was informative and I am of the opinion that we need to have more discussions about rape culture. However, it seems like more disasters have happened to students studying abroad in the last five years. Amanda Knox and Natalie Holloway were both mentioned during this discussion. Add to that the recurring nightmare I have in which I am Liam Neeson’s daughter, only he never manages to save me.

Then there are all the warnings about being careful of pick-pockets, losing your passport, and getting lost in the big city. I do not think I realized just how large of a city London is until I looked at a map in one of my guidebooks. And let’s not talk about the fact that my fear of getting lost is exasperated by the fact that I have no sense of direction. Then there are the multiple differences between American and European universities, including the fact that I will be living in an apartment and cooking my own food. Cooking will certainly be an experience, and I plan on apologizing to my roommates in advance for the horrible smell of burnt food.

All of these things are adding to the overwhelming fear I have about being away from home. Even though I go to school in another state, I can just hop in my car or take a plane and be home the same day. I think what I am most afraid of is being homesick. Once I am in London, I cannot leave until the end of the term, which means missing Thanksgiving with my family, and missing my wacky family in general. This is compounded by my mother, who asks at least once a week, if I am sure I want to go to London. Every time she asks I get whiney and reply with an annoyed yes.

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I do not like taking risks, especially when I feel out of control. The problem with my natural instinct to play it safe is that I would never do anything fun. I push myself to do these things because I cannot live my life in fear. So I will probably wake up several more times in a cold sweat when Liam Neeson doesn’t save me. Also, chances are pretty good that if you look on Facebook, you will probably see a status where I am ranting about my inability to navigate the Tube or cook something besides spaghetti for dinner. I am terrified, but I cannot let that paralyze me. So my walk from the waiting area in the airport to my seat on the plane might take longer than most, although I am certain that I can count on our editors, Hope and Katie to shove me onto the plane and strap me in, if I start to panic. Wish me luck Darlings, London’s calling.


View Comments (3)
  • Damn right we’ll shove you on that plane! Great piece Angela and as someone who studied abroad in England, I can only tell you that as scary as it seems right now, it will be the most amazing and rewarding experience of your life. Come on over hon, we’ll give you the lay down, teach you the Tube, and point you in the right direction so you land on your feet the second you step ashore. – Katie

  • All of these fears are justified! Don’t beat yourself up because you have them – I promise you, everybody that seems to be ~SUPER EXCITED~ about studying abroad secretly has these fears in the back of their minds, too (and if they don’t, they should). On that note – you must remember that, (though I could be wrong?) you WILL have classmates and roommates that will be going through the same experiences together. You will not (and should not) be wandering the streets alone – you’ll have people to lean on. If you need help, ask – and always bring a map. The locals are not as scary as you might think. Here’s a nice thought – at least everyone speaks English there! It could be a lot worse, right?

    Good for you, for taking that first step of saying that you WILL do this, no matter how frightened you are. All you need to do is be smart. Be alert in crowded places – just casually keep your hand on your purse if you’re paranoid about pickpockets. Missing Thanksgiving is a tough one, but I’m sure you’ll get together with your American friends who are studying abroad with you and have a great meal. Even better, no awkward family Thanksgiving talk! Plus, it’s just one Thanksgiving in all the Thanksgivings of your life. Your mom will understand.

    As for feeling homesick, this WILL happen, to a great extent. But the feeling will eventually pass. Don’t hesitate to write e-mails to your friends, and talk to the people around you about how you’re feeling. It’s okay to feel sad, but if it starts affecting your daily London life, then you should talk to someone at your University about it.

    Embrace the change! Before you know it, the 4 months will be over and you’ll wonder where the hell the time went. Bon voyage!

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