Study the Classics. Travel the World. Worship the One.
When I first applied to SSU in the fall of 2006, that motto called to me, a beacon of what my life would become in the following four years. After three amazing semesters of both spiritual and academic growth, I feel that I have a comfortable—and yet not inactive—understanding of how ‘studying the Classics’ and ‘worshiping the One’ play such an important part in my experience of SSU. As for traveling the world, you could say that I’m a seasoned expert. Since 2004 I have been to four different continents (including North America), having spent time in Zambia, Romania, and Papua New Guinea with friends and family from home. With all this experience behind me, you’d be justified in believing that I’m more than prepared for the fast-approaching study abroad term in South-East Asia.
And yet, I just can’t seem to rid myself of this nagging feeling of anticipation and—to put it bluntly—fear. Fear of the unknown, of making too many cultural faux-pas, of long flights and bus rides, and of a nation that is so unlike my own. Part of me thinks that maybe that which I am most afraid of is the fact that I will not return to Canada the same person that I was when I left. Not that it’s a bad thing to grow—like I said before, SSU has been a place of amazing personal development for me since the moment I first walked through the door—but I also know that change does not come without sacrifice. I am going to have to leave a part of me behind, and that is what scares me the most.
Don’t get me wrong— I’m still really excited to experience South-East Asia with my classmates and professors, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn about the history, religion and culture of that part of the world. Right now, though, I just need to be open about the fact that I am nervous. Despite the anxieties that are battling it out in my mind, though, there is still a peace within me that comes from knowing the most reassuring truth of all:
God knows what He’s doing. He knows what I’m going to learn and how I’m going to grow in Asia. Most importantly, God knows that the Katie Ironside who returns to Canada at the end of March will not be the same as she was when she left. And, though I may try my hardest to deny it, I think that is the exact reason why He’s sending me there in the first place.