This State of Being: Pre-Departure

Jan 12, 2016 8:30:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Rikki_Li_Profile.pngRikki Li is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An English Writing and Psychology major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in London this semester.

In her first post as a CAPA blogger, Rikki shares her pre-departure thoughts before heading to London!

- --

Confession: I haven’t started packing yet.

To be more specific, I haven’t started seriously packing yet. Every time I sit down next to my empty suitcase to start, I end up getting distracted by some other task (which, in the moment, always seems more pressing). There are quite a few loose ends to tie up before I leave for London.


I’m definitely not the most organized person in the world, but I am aware of my forgetfulness and enjoy yelling at myself via Post-it notes to keep myself on track from time to time.

As a result of my haphazard packing however, I’ve come across many of my old journals and have been flipping through those instead. There was a sizable pile of them tucked away in my bottom desk drawer, and you can tell that they haven’t been touched in quite some time by the stiff, crackling sound they make when you turn the pages. The oldest one is from when I was 6-years-old; the spine is starting to lose its flexibility, and the woodland nymph on the cover isn’t as colorful as she used to be. The entries themselves are pretty repetitive, which I guess says a lot about my childhood mindset.

Today, I went to the playground after dinner. I met some old friends, and I was happy. It was a great day. 


Almost every entry ends like that, with an “it was a great day,” which either means that “great” was my default adjective at the time, or I really was just living in a monotonous state of happiness. The world was pretty small for me in 2001. Perhaps there was something safe and familiar in visiting the same four locations on repeat: my room, the backyard, the classroom, and then the playground after dinner on the occasional warm evening.

I don’t find as much comfort in routine these days. As exciting as college has been, the past three years have gone by so fast that I can’t really tell them apart from one another. I look back and feel like I’m losing the years that everyone says are “the best of my life,” and that scares me.

I suppose that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to study abroad. To change things around, to see things from a new angle. I can feel myself stagnating, and both my habits and my writing have reflected that. Everything I write sounds like I’m trying too hard. But I’ve heard exclusively good things from people who’ve gone abroad, whether it was only for a couple of weeks or for a whole semester, and I knew it was time for a change.


I purchased a new journal too, whose message is equal parts clichéd and significant, I think. In between writing this blog, keeping a personal blog, and writing in a personal journal, I hope my writing muscle will get the fresh perspective and exercise it’s been craving. I want to love words again, and what better place to do that than in the city with so much literary history?

I know there will come a day in London when I won’t feel this optimistic, when the change in setting won’t feel as inspiring as I’d hoped, and writing will feel like a chore. While I hope that doesn’t happen, it never hurts to be prepared, right? I’ll leave a note to myself here, just in case, for those moments when I just need a familiar voice. A well-wish, of sorts. A friendly wave.

Dear future-Rikki,

Hello again. I hope you’re well. It’s currently January 7th, 5:00pm. It’s dark outside already, and your toes are cold. Or, my toes are cold, technically.

I know sometimes the world seems like it’s going too fast, and it seems that the only viable option is to keep your head afloat and ride the current. But you can do that any time. You could do that for the rest of your life, if you wanted. But not now, not in London. Not after you jumped through all those hurdles to get there. I know it may seem like it was nothing, but it was. Something. I think we exist in a state of mind that is reluctant of, but dependent on, change. And you know what? You saw that you needed change, and you went for it.

I’m so excited for everything you’re going to see and do (or have already seen and done) in London. I know you haven’t lost sight of that feeling either; you just need a little push, right? As your dad used to tell you: eat that frog! I know London’s going to be greater than anything you’ve ever imagined. I promise that you’re getting better, even if you feel like you aren’t.

I hope, at the end of these few months, you learn something about yourself. And, as customary: I hope you find what you’re looking for.

- - -

Thanks Rikki!

Rikki's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.

Find out about the CAPA London program  

Topics: London, England, Official Bloggers and Vloggers, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations