Wow, this day has snuck up on me: I leave tomorrow. It seems like last week that I moved into my house on 35th and N to begin my summer courses at Georgetown. Then, before I knew it, (with a lot of work and a lot of fun in between) I was moving all of my stuff again. Now, I’ve been home for four out of the five days allotted to me, running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to get all of the logistics of traveling and studying abroad squared away for my Friday lift-off (AKA tomorrow). Five days has never gone by so quickly. But, I know that however quickly this first half of my summer has gone, my time in Brazil is going to go by ten times more quickly. And I know, from past experience, that I won’t want that to end either.
Time will always be something that I (and most people) can’t quite grasp. But what’s really been bothering me is this feeling at the bottom of my stomach. What is that? Nerves?! It can’t be. Aren’t I the same little girl who moved to Italy when I was sixteen with absolutely no fear? And here I am, now an adult, and I’m scared?? But then I realized the difference: before, I was leaving a high school that I didn’t like and now I’m leaving a school that I am absolutely in love with. Then, I was so excited to meet to people. Now, I’m pretty content with all of my amazing friends here at Georgetown. Then, I was bored with the monotony of my small private school in Southern Maine, and was craving newness and excitement. But now, at Georgetown, life seems to be moving in hyper-speed and something new and exciting happens every day. So of course I wanted to leave then and don’t want to now.
Everyone asks me, “Wow, are you so excited?!” Sometimes I’ll say, “yeah!” and just move on. But other times I’ll be completely honest and say that I’m really not excited. I don’t want to leave Georgetown. I’ve made a home for myself here. I’ll say that I know, rationally speaking, that I’m going to love it there and end up not wanting to come back (ironically). But, I’ve never been to South America, so I can’t even imagine it really. And it’s very difficult to get excited, when you don’t know what you’re getting excited for! Furthermore, essentially the only image of Rio de Janeiro that I have to go by, is its portrayal in horrifying movies such as City of God and Tropa de Elite (which are filled with drugs, murder, violence, cheating, stealing…). So, no, I’m not excited. I’m terrified.
On top of that unflattering representation of Rio, I’m probably the worst person to send to an immensely dangerous city: I’m a naturally very trusting person. I have this fundamental belief that everyone, on some level, is good. This has been disproven to me time and time again, but I just can’t seem to shake this faith in humanity. It’s both a blessing and a curse. I won’t go into the details of how it’s a blessing (I’m sure you can figure it out) but as far as living in Rio de Janeiro goes, it’s a curse. I’m going to have to change in order to survive there. I know that. If I don’t learn to distrust everyone and if I don’t learn to channel my inner-feistiness, I will be taken advantage of left and right. So, yes, moving to Italy when I was sixteen certainly shaped who I am today and changed me immensely. But living in Rio is, I think, going to force growth in me on even more of a fundamental level. It’ll open my eyes. It’ll change me for the better. It’ll teach me to protect myself (in more ways than one).
After telling my inquirers that I’m not really all that excited (yet) I tell them that I just need to get there. I need to see that it’s not as bad as everyone says. I mean, people live there for god’s sake, it can’t be that bad. Furthermore, all cities are dangerous. You just have to know where to go (or where not to go rather). Even in D.C. we’re in our protective little Georgetown bubble, but cross the river into South-East D.C. and you enter a whole other world of violence and drugs and murder and rape (just as you find in Rio if you go to the favelas or slums). Obviously, I’m saying all this more for the purpose of convincing myself, rather than my readers, that Rio cannot possibly be as scary as people make it out to be.
I also just need to get there so that I can see what it is I’m supposed to be excited for! I know I’m going to love it. Every single person that has gone abroad has said that it’s the best experience and best decision of his/her life (hell, I’m one of them!). And every person that hasn’t gone abroad, has regretted it. So, on an intellectual level, I know I’m going to love it. And I’m excited to blog again a week or two after my arrival to say just that. And, I’m excited to re-read this blog in a mere few days and realize just how ridiculous most of what I am saying sounds (I hope!).