December 30, 2014

Looking back.

Thinking back on my semester abroad in Scotland it's almost as if it never happened.  It was one of those experiences that often felt too surreal.  Like, am I really living in another country?  Is this actually my life?  But once I got used to going about my day-to-day: attending classes, buying groceries, it was honestly harder to imagine what it felt like to be living anywhere else. 

The city of Edinburgh provided an excellent backdrop for me to continue exploring who I am.  The locals were friendly, the streets were (fairly) easy to navigate by foot, and the green spaces were peaceful.  Quickly I learned that I take many aspects of being American for granted and in particular my liberal arts education.  I also learned that loud, touristy and obnoxious photo-taking-to-prove-I've-seen-this-landmark-obsessed Americans exist but I am definitely not one.  I can function without wifi 24/7.  I'm hella gregarious; and I am at my best when I consistently see friends.  Alcoholic ciders and ginger beer ain't half bad.  I don an English accent when  asking questions.  I can seamlessly impersonate a Canadian, adding 'eh' to the end of every other sentence.  I can never stop making mix CDs, especially for those poor souls who have never had one made for them before.  I love my pen pals and sending snail mail remains very important to me.  I am lucky to have seen The Antlers live in concert, twice, on two different continents.  Getting coffee alone with someone you may or may have romantic feelings for does not constitute a date.  From personal experience, fortune favours the bold.  (Seriously.  When I am competent and confident, I am nearly unstoppable.)  Sometimes you have to chill and not over think things.  Self-care is an ongoing process.

Flying home was a strange experience.  I felt quite 'adult', whatever that means.  The most interesting person I met on my epic journey (Edinburgh to Paris, Paris to NY, NY to FL) was an older woman, probably in her late 60s. We were waiting to board our delayed flight in Paris when we began chatting. A little girl growing up in New York, she saw The Great Wall of China in a textbook once and decided then and there she would travel to see it one day. And when she did finally experience it -- albeit many, many years later -- she was overtaken with great emotion. "The Chinese must've thought: 'who is this crazy Westerner?'" She kept mentioning other places she's traveled to and even those short anecdotes filled me with such wanderlust. At one point, she shared that she was diagnosed with brain cancer. This silenced me, but she assured me that it's been ten years and that she's fine now. The ultimate takeaway from our conversation is that you never know where life will take you.  Having just spent three months living out my dream, I just had to nod as the tears silently streamed down my face... 

See you again soon, Scotland.

November 24, 2014

Noise sensitivity.

Some days, like today, I can't stand listening to any noise that I'm not producing myself in what is supposed to be a quiet place.  Outside noises become so bothersome to me.  I even grow quite angry.  With this condition plaguing me, I've settled for my favorite place on campus, Appleton Tower's "absorb," as I work on this paper.  Yes, I definitely procrastinated on it, and I should have planned my time better.  Blah.  But what will I remember in five years?  The stress of finishing this paper last minute, or days like the weekend I just had with Emma, filled with adventures in the glorious city of Edinburgh?

Oh, yes, hi.  I'm in Scotland now.  Specifically Edinburgh (ed-in-BRUH).  I've been living and studying here for the past three months.  I love it, even though currently I am a mess of emotions.  I'm simultaneously working through feelings of sheer happiness to guilt, to laziness, to who-even-can-tell.  I partially blame entering my twenties.  That's right, folks.  I want my time to shine (and by shine I mean fail miserably and wallow in it) before quarter life crises are passé!  I'm twenty!  Let me in the club!!

Although I've given myself much needed space from the blogging world, I've still been documenting my life through daily videos.   Recently, I made a list of things that I'm looking forward to, and on said list is traveling to London next weekend.  Hopefully I can meet up with long-time Blogger Fam member and pen pal, Nicola.  I'm also eager to return to Minnesota and see how Kaitlyn, her beagle and Joey are surviving in the snow and ice.  Speaking of which, I'm not sure how I will survive.  I love the cold, but risk of frostbite and -40 degree weather always sounds extra dangerous and y'know, the opposite of fun.

Like a conversation going stale, I've turned to the weather.  Probably means I have nothing else to say.
I hope anyone who happens to be reading this is doing okay.  High School Musical is right: we're all in this together.

xx (ha ha am I British now?)

August 31, 2014

The end of an era?

I have been reluctant to write this.  Mostly I've been unsure how to formulate my thoughts properly.  But to avoid beating around the bush…

…I've discovered blogging doesn't make me happy anymore.

There.  I said it.

Even though initially blogging wasn't about pleasing anyone else, it kinda has become that way for me.   It feels shameful to even admit.  Like, how could I be so shallow?  How could I put my importance on the number of comments I received?  I shouldn't be so disappointed when I get zero comments.  Zero comments doesn't mean I'm worthless.  Zero comments doesn't somehow negate my awesome experiences.  (At this point I want to thank Natalie, who still consistently reads and usually comments.   Also Blogger Family members in general.  You all helped to keep me going longer than I probably would have otherwise.)

I kept thinking that if I just tried hard enough, I could be better.  I thought if I was "better," surely the comments would follow.  Yet after struggling for two-ish years at this, I finally learned that perhaps blogging isn't my scene.  Except if I wasn't a blogger -- what was I?  "Blogger" had become a large part of my identity.  I couldn't let that go, could I?

Recently, I've embraced that videos are my preferred mode of self-expression.  Perhaps you've been able to tell; my last few entires have been riddled with my latest work on YouTube.  Undeniably, the satisfaction I get from finishing a video quadruples any of the satisfaction I've probably ever gotten from writing a blog post.  Sadly, I know that these same posts have once again yielded zero comments. I can't -- and won't -- let that hold me back.

Still, I'm hoping to be able to blog on occasion.  Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel, pandasinfedoras, to stay in the loop on my adventures in the meantime.  I won't be offended if you don't.

Until later, alligators.