I am going to study abroad...I hope she does not mind!

I have not used this site for some time, and a new chapter is about to begin for it.

For the next year, a good portion of posts on this site will be dedicated to documenting my experiences as I participate in two study abroad programs through the University of California. I hope that my experiences can assist other students deciding to possibly pursue this type of opportunity. It will also serve as means to stay in touch with loved ones back home, since I petulantly refuse to participate in facebook.

At this point, I truly recommend that people do study abroad, but perhaps choose to do a single program for a year, rather than attempt two different countries back-to-back (I hope to travel to South Africa and the University of Cape Town come January).

I am a 37 year old undergraduate student. In many ways, I am just about as non-traditional as they come. Some of us commonly joke with each other whenever something goes wrong that we didn't screw it up or do it incorrectly...we're just non-traditional. I am a gay man in a long term relationship. I am an older, returning student. I am completely dependent on financial aid. I am a transfer from a community college but have previously dropped out of a 4-year university. I am also a biological sciences major.

Just about all of these things add up to someone who doesn't go abroad. However, people worked hard to dissuade me from my conviction that this life-long dream was impossible. In turn, may this blog help others with similar convictions engage in a broader range of opportunities than they presently see for themselves.

In one week, I leave for Australia. Here is a description of the program in which I am enrolled:

I am incredibly excited and at the same time witless with anxiety. It is almost a certainty that next Friday, I will get on the plane and be perfectly alright. I will certainly be feeling the early pangs of separation from Fred, but the self-sabotaging doubt will be gone.

Fred has been an amazing trooper in indulging this dream of mine, putting up with my alternating moods of near-boastful ambition and abject terror, navigating the disappointment of infeasible plans for us to spend time together overseas between the two programs, and holding down the home-front while I pursue this hair-brained scheme to broaden my educational experience.

Still, I am a student with a past. While I may get straight A's in my classes, there is always this lingering notion that I still have something to prove, that failure is lurking around the next corner. Preparations are coming along. My massive To-Do list, which at the beginning of the summer was staggering in its scope, is beginning to look tamer, with many a slash-mark through its items. I have ordered some Australian Dollars (arriving on a Sunday, it seems wise to not try to find a place to exchange on that end) and have begun to amass the master pile from which I hope to cull a reasonable and prudent supply of belongings to take along.

In the next week, in addition to some more personal matters I must attend, I will be enrolling in some travel insurance through UC, shutting down my cell phone, obtaining a plug adapter or two for my camera and laptop, and fine-tuning my packing.

Truly, there is nothing to actually worry about, but that doesn't stop this noggin from coming up with all sorts of vague shadowy impressions of certain failure.

I also get to help with an art opening at a local non-profit arts space in Joshua Tree (The Radio Free Joshua Tree Listening Lounge - http://www.rfjt.org/) and spend some quality time with Fred and our animals.

Anyone else finding themselves in a similar boat, stay strong. I don't doubt that an amazing journey lies ahead. Join me.

Listening to : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAk-I2qd-0M