Shortly after being notified of both acceptance into Queens University and a scholarship to fund it, the director of the Office of Study Abroad informed me that I needed to come into his office to sign a form to officially accept the scholarship. He went into extensive detail about the scholarship and its terms and conditions. He told me what would be expected of me and what else I had to do as stipulated by the scholarship committee. It was the school’s way of saying “we feel confident in how you’d represent Westminster–confident enough to trust you with with thousands of dollars” and my way of saying “I recognize the significance of what’s being offered to me and promise to handle myself accordingly.” I have no doubts about my ability to do so, yet I could not help but still be overcome by the simple fact that my dream of studying abroad was becoming real. I was there because several people got together, analyzed various aspects of my life, and, based on that information, decided I was worthy of large amounts of money. And that my friends is quite the confidence booster.
Once the meeting concluded, I gathered my things, headed down the narrow staircase to the main foyer, and went to exit through the ornate front door of the building. The Study Abroad Office is located in a beautiful Victorian-style house (or, at least I think it’s Victorian, architectural styles were never really my forte) repurposed to serve as a central meeting place for any international programs occurring on campus. The doors, presumably original to the house (if not, then they’re at least older than the average door; door age identification is another thing I’m not good at), proved difficult to open. No matter what direction I turned the handle, the door wouldn’t budge. I tried to gently coax it open, but it seemed fragile so I didn’t try too hard for fear of breaking it. I wondered if maybe someone else locked it by mistake or if maybe there was some special trick to it, so I went back upstairs to ask the person I’d just gotten out of the meeting with for assistance. He went ahead and came downstairs to help. In one simple motion, without any hesitation or resistance at all, he smoothly opened the door. As it turns out, the door did have a special trick to open–it was a pull, not a push. The first thought to enter my mind was “well, at least the flight attendants open the door on the planes so I don’t have to worry about that,” but that was quickly followed by the image of me looking at the main door to the airport terminal in complete confusion. How am I supposed to get to Europe if I couldn’t even open a simple door? Here I found myself having just proved both to the scholarship committee and myself that I was capable of and qualified to spend several months at a British university but still needed assistance to leave the office.
My life is filled with these types of moments and faux pas. I always miss a button when buttoning up shirts. I still have no idea how to spell restaraunt. I’m horrible at parallel parking–one time I somehow accidentally got half my car on the sidewalk and terrified a couple of passing pedestrians. I have the musical taste of a preteen girl. I’ve been known to trip while standing still. I’ve run more stop signs and red lights than I could possibly count and not always accidentally. I once brought down an entire row of desks just trying to stand up. I came within a few feet of falling into the lagoon at EPCOT (which earned me a disapproving stare from Princess Belle). I accidentally killed a bird on the way to prom. I went to get the tires rotated on my car once and made it all the way downtown before I realized I had left my shoes at home and went the rest of the day barefoot.
So yeah, here I am, an uncoordinated nerd whose driver’s license should probably be revoked bound for the great unknown (I guess “unknown” isn’t the best way to describe a continent populated by millions of people, but I couldn’t think of another poetic way of phrasing it). Am I prepared? I probably won’t ever be prepared. Am I nervous? Understatement, but yeah. Do I fully understand what I’m getting myself into? Yeah, not a chance. Am I the least bit phased by all that? Not really. That’s what makes crazy stuff like this fun and worth doing. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this short life of mine, it’s to rejoice in these crazy moments of disruption, for blessings such as these are what keep life interesting.
And for the record, after a later meeting in the same office, I was able to open the door without any assistance and it only took me ten minutes. So yeah, personal growth is a continual process.