The Twin Impending Senses of Doom and Elation: Thoughts on International Travel

The other day, I dropped $1500 on a trip to Clermont-Ferrand, France. This summer, along with Associate Dean Rhonda Kyncl and the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Scholars, I’ll be embarking on a two-and-a-half-week excursion to France (funded by the program, which is a pretty awesome perk that I couldn’t be more thankful for) to learn about the concept of virtue, especially as it relates to service abroad. I have to admit… I’m a lot more nervous to go than I thought that I would be. I’m flying internationally for the first time, but I’m also flying by myself out of Kansas City, which adds another layer of stress. I gave myself a 3-and-a-half-hour layover in Atlanta upon re-entry in to the United States to go through customs, I’ve already picked my seats, planned out what I’m going to do on the plane to distract myself from the fact that I’m flying over an enormous ocean on a flying metal bird of death in to a city that was the subject of recent terror attacks, and yet, I can’t shake the feeling that something will go wrong. I suspect that this isn’t an uncommon fear to have… that being said, it doesn’t make it any less real for me. The what-ifs keep swirling around my head: what if I didn’t give myself enough time somewhere to make my next flight? What if I arrive late and miss a plane? What if a meteor ends life on Earth? All of these are, of course, entirely natural and equally likely scenarios, which only adds to my stress level.

All of that being said, I also couldn’t be more excited for this trip. I am going with some of my absolute best friends, being taught by one of my favorite people on OU’s campus, and I get to attend a party hosted in the freaking Eiffel Tower (you read that right). We’ll be meeting with the mayor of the town we’re staying in, hiking around, and eating all the French cuisine that our stomachs can, well, stomach. Once I finally have my feet on the ground, I’ll be able to think about all of that. Until then, I’m just praying to whatever deities are out there that I arrive in one piece (and preferably not in a body bag).

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