As I sit here tonight, knowing in less than 48 hours I will walk the stage, I look around my room and can’t help but laugh. It’s a disaster and my dad will be here tomorrow to help me move and I couldn’t even bring myself to start packing today. I couldn’t even start the tidying-up process. I have shoes and clothes everywhere. I didn’t do laundry yet. My kitchen isn’t clean. There’s paperwork all over my table that needs to be sorted through (and probably thrown away). And it occurs to me that as silly as it is, maybe I didn’t do any of those things today because I don’t feel like I’m ready to leave.
I’ve spent the last four years living on this campus. I spent the last four semesters in this apartment. This has been the place I’ve called home for the better part of four years. And tomorrow (or today, because it’s the crazy late middle of the night) I’m moving most of my stuff into a new home.
This week didn’t go like I planned. Today didn’t go like I planned. Like the rest of life, the last four years have come with their own set of trials and tribulations, but it definitely wasn’t bad.
This week I was talking to a friend, a guy I met in College Algebra freshman year many, many moons ago, and we were laughing about the crazy professor we had. The stories he told us, in the middle of his sentence explaining the math problems. The random ramblings of a crazy man who stuck a wrench in a freezer at Walmart. And we laughed. Hard. I remember how much I hated that class because I was so bored and it was at 8 a.m. and no one wants to do math, even if they are good at it, at 8 a.m. But he was right when he told me I’d miss those days.
In four years, I’ve grown. I’ve grown to make mistakes and learn from them (or in some cases, just learned how to better deal with making the same mistake over and over again; it’s part of my charm). I’ve grown from a goofy high school kid to a goofy almost grown up. I’ve grown to learn that sometimes you just need to call it good for the night and try again after sleep. And I’ve grown to learn that my decisions are my own.
UMHB, the campus, my apartment, has been a home for four years. And now I’m ready to make a new place a home. But before that, tonight and tomorrow, I get to feel nostalgia for the memories I made and the friends I shared them with.
It occurred to me last night that I am not only into single digit class days, but I only had to attend three more classes before graduation. I can count those on my fingers. That’s how close to graduation I am. And then this morning I went to one of those classes. So now, I’m down to two.
Graduation is terrifyingly close, but it’s so exciting at the same time. And then I wonder what happened to my college years. Where did they go?
Four years ago, I was preparing to graduate high school. I was thrilled to begin college. I was ready to be done with petty high school drama. I was nervous, of course, because college was a totally different beast, but this is what I spent 12 years of school preparing for. I was ready.
Three years ago, I wondered where my freshman year went. I was thrilled to begin my summer vacation a month earlier than my family. I was ready to live, if only for a semester, with my best friend. I was nervous about the prospect of studying in London six months later, but I was ready. I just did a whole year of college on my own. Could three months in London really be that different? I was ready.
Two years ago, I came home from London, changed for the better. I officially decided to declare my major. I was thrilled to come back to a job I loved in the fall. I was entering the second half of my college career with no idea what my plans were, but that didn’t phase me. Life was going to sort itself out and I would be ready.
One year ago, I realized I needed to start figuring things out (like getting a driver’s license) so I could get things together in terms of internships to graduate because all of a sudden, graduation looked much closer than it had. So I spent the summer working on that because that was step one and I wanted to be ready when fall came.
Half a year ago, still without a driver’s license, I was pretending everything was fine. Graduation is still a long time away. Plus, there were only nine hours left to complete my degree. I’d take those, I’d do my three internships, it would all work out fine and I would be ready.
And today. Today, it did work out fine. I am taking the nine remaining hours and I am almost done with my internships. But today, I also wonder where the last four years went, because I don’t feel ready.
Real grown-ups always talk about how life just passes you by if you let it. They talk about enjoying every day. When you’re a kid, you don’t really understand. Every day seems like a lifetime. And then you start college (and enter a time warp) and all of a sudden you get it. All of a sudden, the years just pass you by. One day it’s January and the next it’s April. And you’ve blinked, and there goes college.
Every year, everyone does the standard new year post about “new year, new me.” And then he or she makes a resolution that lasts about two weeks (until the resolve wears off and life gets in the way, and we fall back into our bad habits). This year, that isn’t for me.
This year isn’t about a new me. It’s about growing into myself. The young woman I already am and who I’m becoming.
2015 was a long year. It was a good year, but it was a hard year. There was a lot of devastation this year, and not just in my personal life. There were natural disasters and man-made disasters. There was a lot of unnecessary loss of life and a lot of fighting over silly stuff.
2016 holds many opportunities for me. I’m going to graduate. I’m going to have to get my life together and be a real grown up. And I’m going to begin the path to fulfilling my potential and leaving my mark on the world.
So, no new me this year. Just me. And the beginning of a new year. And a clean slate.
Every semester, when we get to finals week, I’m always ready to go home. Because that means I can sleep and hang around the house and not shower for days (I’ll admit it; I’m not ashamed. Showers are hard.). And this semester was no different. It came to finals and I was ready to go home (in reality I was ready before our coach tour, but it was worse last week). I just wanted to skip these last two weeks and be on a plane home. Fast forward. Bam! Home!
Well, on Monday, I finished my finals. And all of a sudden, at 10 AM, it hit me. I didn’t wanna go home nearly as badly as I had about two hours ago. And then I realized that I equated being home with being done and I just hate finals (who doesn’t?). And now I’m very sad to be leaving.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to eat Mexican food and meat that doesn’t scare me and see my family and sleep for a week, but I really am gonna miss this place.
It’s beautiful here. And it’s unique.
I’m going to miss walking through the park on my way to class.
I’m going to miss the sandwiches in the grocery stores.
I’m going to miss the adventure.
I was mistaken. I’m ready to go home, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to this wonderful place and all it has to offer. But don’t worry, London, I’ll be back.
I did learn, however, that I need to stop rushing the end of my semesters. They really are the best days and I need to enjoy every second I’ve got. So, tomorrow, I’m enjoying every minute. And I can’t wait!
Last night we went to see Wicked as our “end of semester treat.” And this week marks a lot of lasts. We had our last art class. We took our theater final. Our semester is quickly winding down.
And this semester has taught me a lot. I mean, I learned about London and its history (more than I like, if we’re being honest). I learned about Children’s Literature. I learned about Art and Theater. But I really learned about life.
I learned about the unfamiliar. I learned to cope with living with 5 other girls. I learned about grocery shopping. I learned about a different way of life.
And I met some of the most wonderful people on the way.
At graduation, 2 years ago, a few girls sang this song. And I had never seen Wicked, so I never really had a context for this song. Lemme give you some context. In the musical, Elphaba meets Glinda and they are stuck as roommates. They eventually become best friends and this song a duet is near the end of the show, when they have gotten over their differences and are parting ways forever. So, woah, go graduation. Good choice, ladies.
But, in context of this semester, I know I have made a few really close, really strong relationships. And I also know I will never see most of these people again. And for some of them, that’s not such a bad thing. I know it isn’t going to be bad for me to never see them again. They taught me what they needed to teach me, and that’s that.
I think it’s valuable to learn that. Sometimes, you just have to let people go, because they weren’t meant to be in your life forever. And if you learn what you were supposed to from them, they never really leave, because your relationship with them was fruitful.
My flatmates taught me so much. They taught me patience (which is going to be an ongoing lesson, for a long time; but they did help it along). They taught me to bite my tongue. They taught me the value of communicating. And that sometimes, you just have to walk away and cool off, all of which I knew, but needed to practice.
My roommates taught me to be confident when I get dressed up. And apparently it is okay for me to wear a mini-skirt and not look like an idiot. Not that I think I’ll be wearing them a whole lot. But apparently I can dress cute and not look dumb. And also, Ali was apparently right, and you have to wear mascara with eyeliner or your face doesn’t look right.
In addition, if nothing else, they taught me I don’t ever want to live the 5 people to whom I have no relation. 2 other people is a stretch. Not 5. Ever again.
My teachers taught me a bunch of things. Dr. Romig taught me about understanding Children’s books. And reminded me how much I love to read. I forgot how important it was to me because I was always so busy, that if I was reading, I knew I should have been reading a textbook, and Sneaky Gabi got around that by just not reading. She reminded me that reading is good for me and reading fixes my life.
Ian’s Theater class reminded me how much I love theater. I love the fun of it. I love watching it. And I need to do something with that when I get home. And I learned I can appreciate a show without loving it. And he taught us to express our opinions, which is not a thing we are frequently taught. He taught us that just because your opinion “might be rubbish, it’s your rubbish” and we need to be proud of that.
The Holcombs introduced me to all kinds of new foods I had no idea I liked, because I was so sure I didn’t like them. Uhm, hello. Try new food. You won’t always like it (fish and chips) but you might be pleasantly surprised (Thai food). And Mrs. Dr. Holcomb gave me some pointers for studying, because that is a skill I am still honing.
My new friends reinforced my feelings about family dinners (which have always been a big thing in my family). That needs to be a thing for me, always. That’s a deal-breaker. We need to eat together, and talk. Not just eat in front of a movie or show or a phone. Dinner is a good time to socialize. But don’t talk to me with a mouthful of food, because that’s gross. And I learned all kinds of new games for a night in. That’s been wonderful.
And I learned how much my parents taught me, how much they instilled in me: good manners; intelligence; common sense. You don’t show up to someone’s house to eat without something to contribute. You always offer to help with the dishes, even if no one else does. You say please and thank you. If you go to someone’s house and they serve you something you’ve never had, you try it and pretend to like it, even if you don’t; you can always get something when you get home. You look both ways, twice when you cross the street. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’t be a space cadet.
So, to everyone who had a hand in my education, formal or informal, I thank you. I do believe I have changed for the better. I have grown this semester (though not physically, because some of us haven’t grown since 7th grade). Thank you. And if this is good bye, good luck.
This post is all about our 10 Day Coach Tour. We spent Spring Break on a tour of Northern England, Scotland, and Wales. It was blast, but not the break I needed, so there’s that.
To start off, I’d like to share a shot poem written by my friend, Emily, over at Mastering History. She read this poem to us on the morning of about the seventh day of our trip. And when she finished, we were not only all impressed by her talent at poetry, but also at her ability to put into words how every single one of us was feeling.
“Ode to Coach Travel”
We started out with spirits high Excited, smiling, nice as pie Music played, voices raised
And out the windows, all just gazed.
Hours passed and we grew weary Some of us felt rather teary. But I was feeling worst of all Terribly, awfully, worse than y’all.
My aching head began to swell And of my rage, I could not tell For it was not the kind of day For being cheerful, come what may.
Running, jumping, bumping, darting Screaming, yelling, burping, farting “I’ve had enough!” I loudly said. “I should have just stayed home in bed!”
But soon the coach began to sway The noise began to fade away The cheeks of many soon turned green And there was vomit to be seen.
Comforted with ginger candy, I sat back, just feeling dady. At last, some peace! I sighed, relieved. I was, once more, no longer peeved.
With that lovely visual, let me tell you a little more about our trip.
We spent the better part of seven of our ten days on a bus. 37 of my closest friends in London. On a bus. For hours at a time. Sounds just like vacation, right? And let me not complain. It was a great trip and I am blessed to be experiencing all that I am; however, when I get home, I will be sleeping for about a month.
Anyway, let me tell you something; packing for 10 days in a carry-on sized suitcase is hard enough when you know what kind of weather to expect. If you could have weather in the 60’s or in the 20’s, it becomes more difficult. I did learn that rolling clothes makes them fit significantly better in a suitcase (my Pinterest addiction, while still very healthy, has at last come in handy). Not sure how that works, but it does. Seriously. Read about it. Anyway. I somehow managed to fit 10 outfits plus pajamas and all the extras (laptop that I would pull out about twice, chargers, converters, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, towel, all that jazz that you need but don’t really think about until you need it) into a carry-on suitcase (which reassures me that I will have plenty of room for the souvenirs I plan to bring home). Anyway, packing was fun. And most of the places we stayed were one night stops, so repacking every morning was also fun. Somehow it seemed that every morning, my suitcase was getting just a little heavier everyday, which doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, because I certainly didn’t make any great purchases.
Anyway. We spent a night in York. Another in Whitby. Two in each Edinburgh, Glencoe, and Ambleside. Our last night was spent in Caernarvon. And let me tell you that my favorite was Glencoe. By a mile. Even when there was no connection, it was the best. Besides the fact that it was the most beautiful place we visited, it was different.
We spent two nights in the cutest little cabin-looking hotel. And we spent a day hiking. And we didn’t have to deal with a million people. That was wonderful. I didn’t realize how much London stresses me out. There are a million people everywhere, and trying to keep up with the two I need to be with is stressful. Because, even though now I am capable of finding my way home (I’m finally beginning to remember which buses stop here, 21 days before we go home), what if they can’t find their way home? Or what if they’re busy worrying about me? Or what if I have something they need? Big-Sister Gabi doesn’t really enjoy it, and I didn’t really realize it until we were hiking up this mountain, just three of us, and I wasn’t worrying about losing Clarissa or Lisa.
And before someone starts a lecture about “you are not their mother,” I am well aware. I just worry about the people I’m with. It’s just encoded in my genes. I worry about everyone I’m with. Confession: it’s nice when the Holcomb’s are with us, because then I feel much less ridiculous, because they can always use an extra pair of eyes on those boys.
Despite getting soaked during our hike, it was phenomenal.
In contrast to Glencoe, with it’s cute little hotel, we stayed at a Youth Hostel in Ambleside. And, I recognize that I sound like a spoiled brat, but I don’t do sharing my bathroom. When I went and visited UMHB the first time, we toured all the dorms and my mom was really excited when we went through Stribling, because I could have my own room. And I told her that I was willing to have a roommate if I got a bathroom that was my own. And all this came flooding back when we lugged our stuff to the third floor of the hostel and found that not only were the bathrooms not attached to our rooms, but they were coed. Uhm, no thank you.
There was a lot of roommate bonding going on in Ambleside, at least among my roommates. Let me tell you, if you really don’t wanna shower, you can make do with what you’ve got. And let me not say more than that.
By day 10, we were all ready to come back to London. Actually, I think we’re all ready to go home, but seeing as that’s not really an option, we’ll settle for the familiarity that is London, with its wifi and kitchens and slight personal space.
London, it’s been fun, but in 21 days, I get to go home and know what menus mean and eat Mexican food whenever I want and I get my own room and I get to see my mama and daddy. And I am counting down the days.
For the record, the title comes from my theater teacher. He was joking. He was instructing my two classmates who were reading some lines for the class to speak loudly and clearly because “the Texans may not understand.” But, it’s a fitting title, I think. And it’s my blog, so I can.
I saw a Buzzfeed post yesterday about 45 Reasons to Live Abroad. It has things like “learn a new language” and “learn to direct tourists.” And it has “to get lost and be okay with it.”
And let me tell you, you never really get to be okay with being lost, but you do find pretty cool stuff. And you do a lot of learning. For example, during that awful Tube Rally (just in case anyone cares, I’m 94.376% sure I’m still harboring some animosity toward that whole day), on our way home we walked home. And a few weeks later we were in the same place, and I can’t tell you where that is on a map, or even probably get back there, but I did know how to get home. And we walked home.
But, as this week will attest, getting lost is not always fun. Or productive. (I think it’s called latent learning in psychology, but don’t quote me on that.)
The other night, we attended a show in what I will refer to as Sketch London. It was about forty minutes away from here by bus. So, seven of us leave in a group and get on the bus like our teacher told us and get off where we were supposed to, at about 6:50, in plenty of time to make the 7:30 show. And we proceeded to wander around for 45 minutes. We walked up and down the same street forever.
On the upside, we did meet some nice bartenders in Sketch London. They gave us directions that would have helped if we had walked a little further up this road.
When we finally showed up, late, I was not impressed by the play. It was not worth the 40 minutes of walking around in the cold and being grumpy.
It was called Don Gil of the Green Breeches. It was a Spanish Golden Age play. And it was almost the same as The Importance of Being Earnest. And that meant the walk through Sketch London was not worth it. I mean, it was nice, but I was in such a terrible mood, I couldn’t enjoy it.
Anyway. The other thing living in London teaches you is to be assertive. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t learn you just need to go.
For example, in the Tube, if you let everyone and his dog get on the escalator, especially during rush hour, you are going nowhere. Period. Everyone has somewhere to be and you have to go or you’ll never get anywhere. In the same way, there are these crosswalks (they are the only places pedestrians have the right of way) and cars stop if you’re there or walking or whatever. But if you don’t step out, and try to cross the street, you are going to be hanging out on that block for a while. There is no room for being shy in London (I also don’t think there’s room for all the people here, but that’s a different story).