Goodbye Florida!

“Aren’t you nervous to be going there?”

I’m in Gainesville for the day, getting a final pedicure with my roommate (shout out to Jacklyn Locklear!) as a “last hurrah” gesture before I leave. We’re talking casually about my upcoming trip, when the blonde, middle-aged woman a few chairs down leans forward and asks, “Aren’t you nervous to be going there?”

By “there” she means Jerusalem, Israel, where I will be studying for the next five months as a student at Hebrew University.

I scan my brain for any signs of nervousness. I feel sad—to be separated from my family and friends for a long time; to be missing events like the birthdays of my siblings, my friends’ graduations, and our annual family reunion; to have eaten my last Chipotle burrito bowl for a while.

I’m anxious because I’ve been to Target more times this week than the average shopper goes in a year, but I still am stressed about packing for my trip, because as much as I love traveling, I abhor packing.

I’m also terribly excited. I can’t wait to be living in such a beautiful country, to perfect my Hebrew, to shop at the shuk (the marketplace) and eat everything and live and learn with one of my very best friends (shout out to Megan Zimmer!) and meet new people and eat hummus and have amazing adventures.

But nervous? Nah.

“But all the stuff going on there!”

By “stuff” she means the portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict in American media.

The thing is, there’s “stuff” going on everywhere and anywhere. “Stuff” happened in Paris, it happened at Florida State University, it happens. But if we live in fear of it, we’re not really living.

Tomorrow is the day. The goodbyes are bittersweet, but I’m excited for the adventure I’m about to embark upon. I’m about to live and learn in a complex and beautiful country for five months.

I’m excited. I’m elated. I’m ready…and a bit nervous that everything won’t fit in my bags.