In the wee hours of this morning, the new group of students arrived, a little bleary eyed, a little nervous, just trying to get their bearings. I welcome them with my colleagues, matching transportation passes with the correct names, handing out orientation schedules, all the while answering a lot of questions.
I love this part of the semester. In fact, it's this day that I think about towards the end as the students begin to pack their suitcases to return home. They have no idea how much they're going to grow and learn in these next four months. That it might be a little hard at first, but slowly, they'll start figuring out that they can do so much more than they ever realized. Watching that transformation is inspiring.
In some ways, I felt the same way this morning. A little bleary eyed (hello 3:30 am wake up call), a little nervous, wondering where this year would take me. There are wonderful things afoot, and while I'm packing a sort of carpe diem attitude about these last months in Europe, there's an equal part of the great unknown that's balancing out 2011.
The inevitable 'what's next?' is just around the corner (actually, seven months down the road), and I realize those nervous stomach flips are coupled with a lot of excitement - I feel like a little girl where anything and everything is possible.
But for now? For now I am living every moment in Luxembourg. A while ago I was reading things I had written in July of 2008 as I crept closer to moving to France:
"Mais, alors, this is the adventure I've craved. When the nerves subside, and the paperwork lessens, I feel that quickening in my chest. I smile and realize I'm finally doing it. I know that no matter how often I look up my new home on map-quest, it will be nothing like the day of my arrival and the first time I step off the train, no matter how many french novels I read, it will be nothing like that first conversation I'll have with les francais, and no matter how many times I've read about little red-head in Paris, it will be nothing like the adventures of this brown-haired girl in France."
(reader's note: the red-head in Paris is the iconic picture book character, Madeline)
In a way, I find myself in the same position. And no matter how much I plan, how much I research, I don't think anything will prepare me for that next adventure, where, who knows, maybe I'll find something more than I could ever dare to ask or imagine.