No boring, typical, or cliche summer for me this year! This summer I will be traveling all over Scotland through UMKC’s Study Abroad Program. I am so excited for this opportunity, although I am not really sure what to expect. This is the first time I have been out of the country on my own and I am really nervous. I have flown and gone out of the country before, but I always had my parents with me, now it’s just me. I’ll have to figure out the airport, customs, taxis, trains and all that other fun stuff on my own in another country. I don’t think there is anything that can really prepare me for that, no matter how much “practice” I have had traveling with my parents. In retrospect, I never really payed much attention in the first place since I didn’t have to know, I just played follow the parents (and of course they never let me out of their sight so I didn’t have much to worry about). Now I am the traveler, responsible for it all. Ahhhh! (that’s a scared but excited ahhhh!)
I have found that planning a trip abroad is stressful! Of course, everyone says it is but you never really know until you are actually doing it and if you’re like me where you think you’re organized but really you’re not, it’s pure chaos. There is so much more that goes into it than I thought: health insurance, calling phone companies and the bank, the change in currency, the adapter thingy for electronics (who knew there was such a thing as different electricity!) and the list goes on and on.
It’s crazy to think that I can call myself a world traveler at the ripe old age of 19 going on 20. I’ll get to spend my 20th birthday in London (that’s where I am flying out of!) I feel like turning 20 is normally kind of boring because nothing exciting happens. I sure planned this trip at the right time, huh? My 20th birthday will be spent in another country! I just can’t get over that. It feels like I am going to a whole other world, which I guess I kind of am; another continent at least. This experience is going to be so surreal. I think I am going to have to pinch myself every day… Although reality still hasn’t set in, I better start pinching myself now.
I can’t wait for that first moment when I will take my first step off the plane into another country; the feeling of awe, excitement and that jittery feeling you get when you’re in a new place that you have never been to before. It’s like that feeling when you’re a little kid going to Disney Land, knowing you are about to experience the greatest thing in your life but on a much greater scale. I’m not sure what I am going to do with myself every day. So much time to explore!
I can’t even fathom all that I will see and experience in just a few weeks. I want to see and experience everything while I am there. I am going to burn the candle at both ends as my mom likes to call it. I can picture the green scenery and rolling hills ahead of me as I sit and write this in my kitchen. The stone buildings, exquisite architecture, the Scottish history and all the people I will get to meet. I’m ecstatic to get to see a real castle because my dad always told me I was a princess and so as a kid, I always imagined living in a castle but have never gotten to see one. My little kid dreams are going to come true!
I think the hardest part for me will be packing. I love to over pack and I am limited to a 44-pound suitcase and a backpack. I also love to shop and in a foreign country, I am afraid I might just go crazy. It may be my only time there so I need to buy everything I possibly can, right? I already know I am going to get myself in a bit of a predicament. And of course, friends and family are going to want gifts too…
I also wonder how I am going to fare in a foreign country with my poor sense of direction. I get lost just going to the grocery store sometimes and I know where that’s located let alone in Scotland where I have no idea where anything is, street names or anything related to direction. All I can say is it’s a very good thing they speak English, a language I know kinda well. I’m afraid what would happen if I was going to a place where I didn’t know the language. I am predicting that I will get lost on multiple occasions, so this could get interesting. Stay tuned.
Final thoughts, I think this will be the best experience of my life, something I will remember and talk about forever. How can anything else compare to a summer abroad in the United Kingdom? I want to try and capture every moment of it with blogging, pictures and going out and doing something every day. I am going to cram a lifetime worth of adventure into one month. Think I can do it?
Nicole Wilhelm, future traveler of the world
Nicole Wilhelm is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. Nicole is spending the month of July in many different cities in Scotland with the UMKC Honors College Program in Scotland. Nicole is involved in UMKC’s Campus Ambassadors, Swim and Dive Club, BHS Society, and Student Nursing Association.