It is hard to believe that after months of planning for study abroad, brainstorming research ideas, applying for travel visa’s (oh the interesting process…maybe another blog post soon), figuring out all the other details related to international travel, and learning about Switzerland (and a few other European countries)  and the various universities I will be visiting, that finally the time to embark on this journey is less than 24 hours away.

On the eve of my departure for study abroad to Switzerland (plus Milan, Italy and Strasbourg, France), I am full of emotions; nervous-anxious, enthusiastic and eager to name a few. Traveling (locally or abroad), by any modes of transportation, often evokes mixed emotions  for me,  specifically this time around I am slightly nervous and a bit more anxious. With recent events in Brussels and earlier last year in Paris, security at airports and around most cities makes me nervous. Being a Pakistani citizen, I understand it may take me longer than usual at airports then previously, regardless of the fact that I have all the necessary documents and visa’s. All I can do now is to be mentally prepared and plan ahead.

Another aspect that makes me anxious is about retaining and processing all the information I will be gaining on this trip. I like to think and I like to take my time to connect the various experiences I undertake. I understand that this 10 days long program is intensive, and  we will be visiting numerous universities and meeting with outstanding colleagues from across Europe. I am afraid that I will not be able to retain, process and think about all the various aspects as I always do. So, in order not to miss all the experiences, I have decided that I will try to journal each night or at least create a list of top 5 pieces of information that I consider important from the day. Keeping track of the top information and experiences will allow me to go back and think about what I have learned even after the program is over.

As I pack and get all my necessary belongings together, I am immensely excited as well. This feeling is a combination of my passion for exploring new countries and universities abroad and studying Higher Education (my concentration).  I have been fortunate to travel to many countries in the past and the “must do” list always contains visiting local universities and colleges when possible. I believe that one of the best ways to learn about a country, their growth over time, learn about local culture and to understand their educational cultures, one must visit an educational institution. Therefore, I am thrilled that on this travel not only will I get the opportunity to visit multiple universities, I also will be able to engage in meaningful conversation with our Dean, professionals at these universities and the colleagues that I am travelling with.

Lastly, I am feeling eager and confident. I am eager to know and learn about the ways in which this experience will influence me, change me and inspire me. I believe that this change and inspiration will influence me as a PhD student, as a young professional and as individual who sees herself working in Higher Education. Additionally, I am confident that the relationships I build on this experience abroad will enrich my life now and in the future.