Coping with Pre-Departure Fears
Guest post by Pornampai (Ping-Ping) Narenpitak, 1st-year Atmospheric Sciences graduate student from Bangkok.
There is only a month left until I move to Seattle. This will be my fifth year living abroad. I have lived in Connecticut for one year and spent another three years in Wisconsin for undergraduate school. Despite that, I still feel nervous thinking about this life transition. I am nervous to be in a big city where I rarely know anyone and I am slightly afraid to face the unknowns. However, as I think about my past experiences, moving to a new place is actually not as bad. It can be exciting and fun if it is well prepared.
So how do I prepare for moving?
One thing I am nervous about is surviving in a big city. Direction is one of my weaknesses and I’ve always got lost even in a small city I lived in. Knowing that, I have spent quite a few times studying the map of Seattle. I used Google map to view the streets and familiarize myself with the campus area as well as the surrounding neighborhood. I plan to get a paper map of the city once I arrive Seattle as well. To get around with public transportation, I am going to download a bus-tracking application and use it on my smartphone. Doing these makes me feel more confident in getting around and exploring the city.
Another challenge I usually faced is homesickness. I felt homesick every time I left home and went back to school. However, good news is that the level of my homesickness has decreased over the years as I made more friends. I found out that staying in my own little room and thinking about home will only make things worse. So yes… making friends is the way to go! As much as I want to keep in touch with family and friends back home, having good friends in America is highly important to me because they can make a foreign place feel like home. But before reaching that goal, we have to step out of our comfort zones and be willing to know other people first. We have to be ready to be stretched and open-minded for different cultures.
Photo of the Seattle skyline taken by Ping-Ping on a visit in March
How about packing?
After dealing with these fears that may hinder me from wanting to move to Seattle, it’s time for packing. I threw everything into my suitcases and then realized they became overweight! I would have to unpack my stuff and re-pack them. Sigh.
To prevent that, I made a list of what to bring and what not to. Here are examples of what I think is important or useful to have in-hands once I arrive America. (By the way, anything too heavy or can be found easily in Seattle will be crossed out from my to-bring list, just to not overpack. The list may also vary from to person.)
(1) Passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and other important traveling documents. I would scan them and ask my parents to keep the electronic copies at home.
(2) Umbrella or rain jacket. Seattle is known as a raining city. Although it’s more sunny than rainy in the summer, I would still bring one just in case.
(3) Medicine if needed.
(4) Clothes—bring enough for early autumn.
(5) Souvenirs—There will be many activities and opportunities to be involved with the local. Some of those are activities provided by FIUTS. It is always nice to prepare something for people who kindly help us adjust to a new place. One way to show our appreciation is giving them souvenirs from our home countries.
Finally, it’s time to pack! I would also keep some clothes at the top of my luggage or in a separate bag so I can take them out easily during the first week of orientation.
Moving to a different country is a big life transition. Dealing with fears that may arise from this is not easy, but it is a good way to grow. It may sound difficult at first, but the feeling after overcoming the challenges is so good. Therefore, instead of thinking about my fears, I think about the positive sides and what I look forward to in Seattle. I try to plan ahead of time so I will be less nervous. When the time comes, I can be excited and ready for a new chapter of life!