Thursday, April 17, 2014

Predeparture: How to Prepare

My blog banner announces this pretty loudly (not to mention the fact that I now have a count-down clock), but in August, I'm leaving for a five month stint in the Netherlands!  I haven't talked about this experience a lot here on this blog, but since I've received my acceptance letter and I've started making a lot of preparations before I leave, I thought that I could talk about that here.

While I'm away, I'll be updating friends, family, and whoever else is interested in my adventures while abroad for a whole semester.  Since I'm established with this blog when it comes to what I'm reading and what is going on in my life, I'm going to continue to use this blog.  I'll just specify that a post is related to the Netherlands by calling the post 'Netherlands Adventures!' followed by what I want to talk about.  Then you'll know whether to pass over those posts or to go ahead and read through them.

1. Doctor Appointments.  This will be the most dramatic item on this list, for me.  I don't take kindly to shots and tests that involve sharp objects.  I'm extremely uncomfortable with sharp objects going into my skin.  I'm not afraid of the pain.  I didn't have to get too many shots and I had one TB skin test.  The skin test didn't hurt at all, but because this was the first thing closest to a shot that I've had in a long time, I flipped out.  However, when I went back to get my shots, I found a solution so not freaking out:

  • Ask the nurse to talk to you while she is busy setting things up and when she gives the booster.
  • Close eyes and respond to nurse.  Do what she asks.
  • Take deep breaths
  • Stay and rest for a bit because apparently you get dizzy afterwards... enjoy your fruit snacks.
The good news is, my doctor appointments are basically done!  I just need to go to the eye doctor and the dentist and those doctors aren't scary at all.

2. Get Classes Okay-ed and Spring 2015 Figured Out.  Since I'm participating in a program that my college isn't sponsoring and attending a different university altogether, I have to look at what classes I need to fulfill before I graduate (we have a wonderful tool called Degree Evaluation-- it's my best friend).  I also have to find course descriptions/syllabi for the classes that I want to take while abroad and pay a visit to the heads of departments so they can look over classes that I would want to take and tell me whether they transfer and how they transfer.  That has been the easiest part so far.  What's been difficult is getting Spring 2015 figured out.

It feels really silly worrying about classes that I'm going to take a year in advance, but it's starting to become more and more necessary.  Some classes that I need only take place during the Spring.  Some classes I might need to take at a time not during the school year, and this has been a pain in the butt.  I won't go into detail here, but I'll say that it's been nothing but trouble getting a straight answer regarding the logistics of taking classes elsewhere and/or at a different time of the year than Spring or Fall.

3. Buy Plane Tickets.  I bought my round-trip tickets a few weeks ago!!!  This took a little bit of coordinating because when I return to the U.S., I'll be coming home with my partner and his dad.  They're coming to Europe to see Germany, but before they get there, they'll land in Amsterdam, I'll show them around the area where I'll be living for five months, and then we'll head to Germany for a little over a week before heading home.  

I also learned how to use airline websites (Hurray!).  I've never booked a flight for myself before, so this felt like a very adult thing for me to do.  I'm glad I did it instead of someone else doing it for me, because now I know what to do when I book another flight.  I know that I'll be booking more flights in the future-- to where, I haven't completely figured that out yet.  I'm just glad that while flying to and from Europe, I'll have a window seat.  That means I can sleep!

4. Start Figuring Out Where Else You Want To Go.  This has been a difficult step, but not the most difficult.  I don't have any dates for when I'll be going on excursions with my program, so I can't officially plan weekend trips (in Europe!) yet, but I can at least think about the places that I want to go on my own.  France is definitely a country I'll be visiting again.  I have friends there, so I'll probably be visiting more than once to visit them, including once with my family.  My family has formed a good connection with one of the girls we hosted when I was a sophomore in high school.  They came over and visited their daughter when she came to the U.S. the second time (this time in the summer) and that was a great time!  Our families are so similar, but we live thousands of miles away.  It's a good thing we have things like email and Facebook to keep us in touch.  So we'll be visiting them, for sure.

Our two families
Our "album cover" photo

As I mentioned before, I'll go to Germany for a little over a week after my program ends with my partner and his dad.  I've been invited to tag along, so that's really nice!  I'm not sure if I'll go more than once to Germany though.  One place I want to see is Munich.  I did a history day project about the White Rose Movement that occurred during World War II.  They were in opposition of Hitler and they were caught, interrogated, and executed.  So I want to go see where this all happened.

I will probably also go and visit England.  One of my current roommates is studying abroad for a full year in England, so I'm going to plan to visit her and go see different things in and around London.  I want to go to Platform 9 3/4 for sure.

Other places I'd like to go: Denmark, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Greece, etc.  I know that I'll have to pick and choose (I can't be gone EVERY weekend!  I have to explore my own stomping grounds in the Netherlands!).  But now I have ideas, at least.

My apologies for the long post.  I figure after this experience is complete, I will want to remember everything, even the stuff that happened months in advance.  

This won't be the last pre-departure post-- I still have to pack!

Thanks for Reading!


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