Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chuckie Finster Complex

Summer is hands down my favorite season. I wish it could last forever, but at the same time I know summer is so magical because it doesn’t last. Right now it’s a rainy 70 degrees outside. The number of hot, sunny summer days is dwindling and I can feel fall approaching too quickly. Most people in my position would say this is a good thing, because the sooner summer is over, the sooner I’ll be on a plane to France where I will be studying abroad for four months. But I’m not one of those people.

Why did I choose to study abroad? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself more frequently as we edge towards September. There are the obvious reasons: a chance to live in Europe, to learn to speak French, to see places I’ve only dreamed about and to have awesome adventures that I will remember for the rest of my life. It will never be easier to go abroad as it is when you’re in college and you have the lovely people at St. Mike’s guiding you through the application and visa processes. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if you don’t seize it, you will regret it.
But the fact of the matter is, I’m terrified. I’m actually terrified of a lot of things, kind of like Chuckie Finster from Rugrats (possibly the greatest show ever). I’ve never been on a roller coaster, I absolutely hate clowns, public speaking makes me want to cry and I’m not a huge fan of airplanes, which will be a problem on August 30th on my six hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean.

I have the same uneasy, anxious feeling that I had the summer before college when I knew that my life was about to change in a big way. Add change to the long list of things that scare me. But isn’t changing the point of college? College is a four year transition period between childhood and adulthood where you have the luxury of figuring out who you are and who you want to be. It’s the time to learn to be independent, set your own rules and do your own laundry. When you graduate from college, chances are you won’t be anything like the kid you were when you graduated high school, and most people will be glad about this.

Change is a nice idea. But actually doing it, actually changing, is a different story. It’s like saying camping is a nice idea, but actually sleeping in a tent and freezing your butt off aren’t so great. Or the idea of reading Jane Austen books. I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who has read Jane Austen and can have intellectual discussions about Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy, but after the first few boring pages (no offense to Jane Austen fans) I put the book down and move to something else.

Part of me is excited about what lies ahead and part of me is resisting change and wants things to stay exactly the same. As much as I love summer, I’m itching to go back to St. Mike’s and see my friends and fall back into my routine. It’s safe. It’s easy. There is comfort in consistency.

The idea of living in such a beautiful place as France and doing adventurous things is what attracted me to studying abroad. But to actually do it? So scary. I will be living with a French family, eating foreign food and trying to speak a language I don’t know too well. I will be out of my comfort zone, which is always scary. But thinking back to Rugrats, as scared as Chuckie always was, he still managed, episode after episode, to do the thing that scared him. And I’m pretty sure he would have regretted it if he let a thing like fear cause him to miss out on Tommy’s crazy adventures because of fear.

So I guess I will put on a brave face, board the plane at the end of August and see what kind of change awaits me. Maybe then I will finally be courageous enough to ride a roller coaster or be in the same room as a clown.

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