Note: Overdue post. Actually written on the sleeper train to Venice on September 11, 2012.
I guess there’s no way you can ever completely prepare yourself to leave everything and everyone you’ve ever known behind. You can research and read and talk to people who’ve been there, but you can’t help but feel your heart kind of twist into uncomfortable yoga positions when your brother actually gives you a hug for once at the airport and your dad has assumed his last-words-of-wisdom voice and the way your mom looks is so full of love but simultaneously so full of fear.
You can book an 8 hour flight, but you don’t know how your legs will feel after attempting to shift into semi-comfortable positions for so many hours. You can look at a map and understand that you are traveling over 5000 miles away, but you don’t know how it feels to be that far away from home.
You can spend your life as a local and attempt to empathize with foreigners, but you don’t know what it is like to go to a police station to try to register with the country in which you are temporarily staying and somehow expect these people of authority, whom you were taught to trust and rely on, to know English and understand what you want.
You can take for granted the idea that you can always use technology as a crutch. You can express your concern at how you will have to give up your phone, but you can’t predict how it feels to be completely lost in an unfamiliar city and you have almost nothing and no one that can help you.
You can read about different cultures and lifestyles, but you don’t know what it will be like to go somewhere and feel so incredibly out of place.
In the short time that I have been here, I feel like I have experienced and learned so much. With all the scary and confusing things that I have been through already, I hope I will be able to get through more. I have no idea what lies ahead of me in Venice. For now, I am glad I am 50 pounds of luggage lighter, I’m all moved in, and my paperwork is done. Despite everything, I feel kind of free…and excited. My fingers are crossed for Italy.