The Futility of Preparation

By Miranda Metheny

My papers are all in order. I’ve received an acceptance letter from Universität Bonn, an International Student Guide, confirmation of a one way ticket on a transatlantic flight. No Visa this time – in Germany, you apply once you’ve reached the country. I’ve packed 212 unique items into my suitcase. I’ve brushed up on my German. I’ve pinned things I want to see on Google Earth. I’ve called up old friends and acquaintances across Germany and the Benelux. But as much fun as it is to obsess over the Wikipedia page and scrutinize statistics, trying to understand what it will be like to live in Bonn, there comes a point when nothing else can be done. When there are no more preparations to be made, all I can do is stand on the brink of uncertainty, trust choices long since made, and, when the day comes, jump.

Just six months ago, as I waited for a different flight, I wrote, “It’s suddenly becoming real that I’m going to Spain, and for half a year. I’ll stay put. I’ll unpack. I’ll settle into a routine. I’ll have a store I go to for groceries and one I go to for pens and paper, classes and errands, friends I can’t even begin to imagine now, and maybe even a bakery I’ll go to every other morning for Pain Au Chocolat. Just a guess. I really don’t know… anything. It’s a leap of faith, an expectation that come December, it will all seem so natural, so inevitable, so… normal.”

Crossing a narrow bridge in the Badlands of South Dakota. (I made it!)

And, come December, it did. Knowing that makes the leap easier this time around, but it doesn’t eliminate it. This may not be my first time abroad, or even studying abroad, but there’s still some nervousness – an inarticulate jumble of hopes, worries, and expectations. I’m glad for it. It’s one of the best reasons for going.


“He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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