I have been dreaming about going abroad for about a year, have been seriously considering it for about 9 months, and have known for sure that I was going for about 5. I've been to workshops, meetings and orientations about being an AFS exchange student, and have been so grateful and amazed with the number of resources that my community has dug up for me. It's incredible how many friends or friends-of-friends I've gotten to contact about Turkey- who knew there would be so many? So right now, I feel very ready to leave home, and have somewhat of an idea of what to expect when I arrive, as well as about a month's worth of Turkish language lessons in my head.
A note on packing-
AFS has given us guidelines on the amount of baggage that we are allowed to bring; 1 suitcase, 44 lbs (20 kilos), and one carry-on, 22 lbs (10 kilos). At first, this was a bit of a shocker. Everything I would need for an entire year, going into one suitcase and one backpack? No way!
But the more I thought about it, the more I warmed up to the idea. After all, it won't be EVERYTHING I need for 10 months, it will be just the essentials- what I need to get myself established. The point of an exchange isn't to go camping for a year, or even to 'go on a trip' for a year; the point is to up and move to somewhere new and different, and spend a year transforming until that place is a home. When I look at it like this, I don't really need to bring much. In fact, it has been recommended to me that I bring only enough clothes for about two weeks, and focus more on bringing gifts and things to represent my home city and where I come from. Also, I will be wearing a uniform to school, so I really only need weekend clothes. Turns out, all of the clothes I'm bringing don't even take up that much room.
Basically, everything that seemed absurd at first has had so much time to settle in that none of the craziness of being an exchange student seems the slightest bit strange anymore.