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Never Forget.

Sitting in a giant field listening to soft jazz is a life defining moment.

Not in and of itself life defining, but sitting here reminising about the reality of what is actually happening, is a moment I know I will hold on to forever.

Does anyone else have those stunning moments of clarity? Acceptance flooding through your body, knowing that this is a moment you need and will remeber, while living it?

I am staring at the blue sky. Feeling a soft breeze through my hair, while smelling the air around me. I know that whenever I reminice on my travels further on in my life, I will remeber this moment and how I felt. The grass will seem greener, the air will taste earthier, and the warmth will wrap me like a cacoon. While those feelings are stretching the truth, it will be my reality of the past. With that I remeber we are all just moments in time. Accept the moment and the joy that it brings.

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Being Rewritten.

I haven’t written in a while. Why? I don’t really have a simple answer for that. But I can say that my eyes have been opened and I don’t feel like the same person who started this blog several months ago. I am sitting here in class and I can’t even think of the things that bothered me even last month. It seems like years have gone by and yet it has only been 3 weeks.

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When I got here after traveling through France, Netherlands, and Brussels, I was ready to take a hot shower and feel at home. At last, homesickness had caught up with me and I NEEDED to just sleep in my own room by myself. First traveling had been exciting. I had not noticed the subtle changes in my life that I should have when it came to my reality. I started missing my American processed food. As well as the instant comforts of America. While I saw the issues that these conveniences caused in my life, I still missed these comforts of home. I made friends, travelled around my new home, and filled my time with distractions to make my new life seem less empty. I can say now, there is no running away from culture shock or homesickness. I made a few friends who understood what I was going through and slowly started to face my issues. Trying to balance my new life of traveling that I always wanted with what my brain was struggling to accept. That things were different and that I had to accept that.

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Slowly things changed. I am now better dealing with my mixed emotions, but I still struggle with my cravings and mood swings due to the new environment. The longer I am here though, the easier it becomes. I can see the joy of traveling again and can’t wait to explore the rest of my surroundings.

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I guess all I am saying here today is that no matter how perfect something looks, or what exactly you think something will look like, reality is much different. I still love it and I am still so glad I came. But take care of yourself if you make the same journey. Life is not always picture perfect, and in the lows make sure you can make it back to the highs. As my joy comes back to me so does the excitement and passion. I look forward to this being my life, and as that acceptance settles in my mind, the rest of my path is becoming clearer.

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Study abroad

Wait, You can drink outside?

Today I decided to go to the Palace of Versailles and it might have been the best decision I have made this whole trip.

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Going into today, I had not made any friends. I was alone, in a new country, hoping someone social would come up to me and sweep me off my feet wanting to hang out. Turns out, it is very hit or miss at hostels whether or not you make friends. I did not know this. I have always been told, the second you start traveling you will meet so many people at all the hostels and will make so many lifelong friends. I was getting sad because while I was having a fabulous time, I was still alone.

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Before getting on the shuttle to the palace, a young man walked up to me and asked if I was going. He immediately started talking, and I learned he was from a country called Columbia. We talked for a bit before getting on the bus where he saw someone, he met the day prior, who was also from his homeland. Assuming that was the end of it, I stopped talking and let him have his hello’s with her. But the next thing I knew, we are all talking and I was planning my whole trip around being with them. We made plans to eat food they brought and explore the gardens. And so we did! 4 hours later, we had explored and drank ourselves into a little wine buzz. While laughing and taking pictures the whole time.

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We went into the castle at that point and of course it was magnificent. I would expect no less at this point. But, the best part was I had new friends to explore it with. We ended up going back to the hostel and spending a few hours with a couple of bottles of wine before we finally said goodnight.

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Now we have plans to meet up tomorrow, and I am so glad I decided to go on the bus at that time. Traveling is amazing, but making new friends is even better.

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All I can say is things don’t always look how people say they will or how you hope they would. But part of backpacking is staying caught up in the moment and seeing where it takes you. Snapchat-1822528027.jpg

Study abroad

Let’s Do That Tourist Thing

I decided that today I was going to focus on seeing the museums. I made my itinerary and called my uber to take me to the Louvre and Musee d’orsay. I hopped in the car and took off expecting mediocre lines or tourists and messy Parisian streets that I have come accustomed to.
Arriving at the Louvre first, I was dropped off next to giant walls, in the middle of what looked like nowhere. Not knowing where to go, I followed the crowd and ended up walking through a tiny arch in the wall before coming out on the glass pyramids. The sight was breathtaking.

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Inside the museum the pieces were all breathtaking, but I was mostly taken by the ceilings and the statues. I was surprised by the number of pieces and how many tourists were surrounding the Mona Lisa. The number of pieces was incredible, and I know there is no way that I could have seen it all and truly appreciated it in one day.

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Leaving there, I headed across the water to the Musee d’orsay. On the way there I got to head across the bridge known for the locks of love.
This museum was not as large or in depth as the louvre but was spectacular in its own right. Here I saw Van Gogh and Monet, two incredible artists. I found my favorite painting and fell in love with Renoir.

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At the end of the day, I walked the Champs Elysee and got another uber home. I cannot recommend enough spending a day this way. I took in the art and culture of France and could not have loved it more.

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Study abroad

Paris for starters

Today I started my tourist excursion of Paris. I wanted to get this out of the way so I could get to see more of the real life of Parisians. The city is beautiful and with so much to see and experience it actually takes a while to complete. Being the overly ambitious person I am, I thought I could walk from the 19th arrondesmont (a section of the city) down to the 1st and back all in one day. I made it to the Eiffel tower after walking over an hour, but after my feet hurt so bad, I ended up having to call an uber.

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A few things have surprised me with this trip, one being the people of Paris. They are all very nice and welcoming. Having been from the states, I have heard many times about how rude French people are, or how you have to watch your step closely to avoid being singled out. I think an easy way to combat this is the same thing anyone would do in the states… Be kind and understanding of the fact that you are in a different culture with different customs. The point of traveling is to get a new world view and that isn’t possible if you force your own on others. I have seen Americans be loud, block pathways, be gullible, and not accepting. Before we judge, we should be trying to see if there is a reason for the behavior. Not everyone speaks English and I have gotten by through the use of single words or google translate. The important part has been learning from them and making an attempt to listen and not bring my preconceived ideas of Paris into my trip.

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A few things about the hostel. The bathrooms are completely different. They just have two push circles behind the toilet, the smaller one is for liquids and the larger for solids. Now the only reason I know this is because of trial and error. It really doesn’t make sense at first inspection as there is no signage, but after a few tries you get the hang of it. They also do not put the toilet paper in the bowl, instead it goes in a garbage bag located right next to the toilet. I am staying in a mixed dorm. This means anywhere from 10-20 people both male and female staying in the same room. Not a big deal, but wow, it is soooo loud! With the jet lag, adjusting to the loud noises has been keeping me up at night. Hopefully I adjust soon!PD1y.jpg
When walking, no one obeys the normal rules of the road from home in the states. The arc de triumphe for example, is a complete madhouse when experiencing it from a car. There are no lines on the street, and everyone just packs together with the idea that if you fit then you can go. Because of this, the cars are much smaller. Those coup cars that are just the front 2 seats that everyone laughed at 10 years ago, are actually very common here. And for a foreigner like me, the stress caused by this madhouse is palpable.

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The city is surprisingly clean. They love to smoke, but there aren’t cigarettes lying around. In fact, there isn’t any garbage lying on the street. Being from the northwest, this city is cleaner than Portland or Seattle. It is refreshing being in a city but not having to be concerned about what I am stepping in. That being said, adjusting to the smell of cigarettes constantly has been a struggle. Thankfully, because they are so consciences, it has not been hard to adapt. They have recycling centers every block and sidewalk cleaners every day coming out to keep the city clean.

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All in all, starting out this trip has been exciting and different. Seeing the sites, I have only ever seen pictures of, has been amazing. I am exhausted from the jet lag but also wide awake trying to soak in as much as I can. All in all, has been a short day but an amazing start to my journey.
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Study abroad

The act of traveling is boring.

I am just going to state the obvious while I sit here waiting for my flight to end.

This morning I woke up at 6am to get ready for my bus ride to the airport. After a 2-hour drive, I finally showed up in my small-town airport just to be waiting another 2 hours to board my initial flight. After the joy of being on the plane for an hour, I got to start my next layover of 6 hours. I got to jump on another plane to spend 9 hours waiting, before finally touching down at my destination. All in all, I have spent 20 hours this day just trying to get where I need to be and it’s still not over!!

 

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6am on an empty bus, starting the trip

No one tells you how terrible all this waiting around is when you’re looking at travel sites. It’s just all about the location. Maybe it is like giving birth? You forget how terrible it is as soon as you arrive… Let’s hope. But as soon as I land, I have to rush off to get euros, go through customs, find my baggage, locate the train, and somehow make it deeper into the city where I can hope to find my hostel. Easy peasy when you don’t have any idea how to speak the language. (Insert Sarcasm here) It doesn’t sound like a lot, but the stress of doing it all in one day and on very little sleep is actually worrying. Thankfully if I want, as soon as I get to the hostel I can crash. But that won’t help much with my adjustment to the new time zone.

All in all, it is a bit of crazy excitement mixed with extreme trepidation and tiredness that is my feelings as I prepare to land. What I have learned so far, upgrade to the preferred seating for $30 dollars. For a 9-hour flight it was amazing and worth it for the extra leg room and blanket. Highly recommend for any travel. It also helped I didn’t have a passenger, so I got to take up the whole aisle while I slept!
I still have 2 hours before I land, so happy sleeping everyone back home! I will post after my first day there tomorrow.

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About to go on my adventure, here are my thoughts.

The semester started at my home university. Everyone got back to town this weekend and meetings are in full swing. As this all is going on, I am prepping to leave the country in a week and a half. Working as much as I can and trying to figure out my budget is happening all in preparation for my travel. I started to plan what I will be packing. Whether I want a carry on, or how cold I might be staying in hostels. While trying to get an idea of what I actually will need.

A few days ago, I realized how much I will be missing by going on my adventure. Several of my friends will be graduating without me. I can’t believe after 4 years together I won’t be here to see them graduate. There is also spring break, and valentine’s day that I will miss. I will be missing several of my advisees graduate from the program I work for. I will be missing several months of my dog’s life. It hurts, but I know it is what is best for me going forward.

At the same time, I feel nothing but excitement as I prepare. I will be living my dream and exploring independently. I am scared of settling down because of the fact that I love my independence. I know that having this time to myself to make friends and lifelong memories is what I need to move forward in my life, and I cannot wait to start this journey. I am so excited to meet people in the hostels and at the school. I can’t wait to go see the sights and really immerse in completely new cultures. I am worried that I am going to fall over my head and never want to leave!

I am excited to post more and get this started. I have a great support system and people who love me. I can’t wait to bring you all along with me and see where I end up in this journey.

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