5.21.2012

home sweet home.

Or, actually, that's a lie. I'm at a job training camp in Missouri {/misery}.

But still. AMERICA. They have a Panera. I'm good.

I'll be here all week so I won't be able to post, but when I get back home I'll tell you guys all about my last day in London. Cheers for now!

5.16.2012

to my soulmate.





























Let me tell you a story. 

Once upon a time there was a shy little brunette with too much monochrome in her closet and too many books in her bookbag, and on this particular day it happened to be her first day of eighth grade. Now the shy girl's school had a ridiculously stupid setup that ostracized her classmates into three separate "teams," and the team you were stuck with  was the team you'd do everything with the entire year. No intermingling allowed. And unfortunately for the shy girl, she had been banished from all her seventh grade friends to some obscure team in some obscure part of the junior high where she knew nobody. So let's just say that her first day of eighth grade was sucking pretty hard.

And then she cut herself in fourth period science class. And that's where it all started. 

Because she was getting blood all over her desk, her science teacher sent her to the nurse's office to clean up. And of course, because the shy girl's day wasn't awful enough already, the nurse was out of her office and the shy girl had to sit and wait. And wait and wait. The end-of-the-period bell came and went and still the shy girl sat there. Finally the nurse came back, swiped her hand with alcohol, gave her a Band-Aid and sent her on her way. By this time fifth period -- lunch period -- was well underway and the shy girl dreaded the thought of walking into her classroom in the middle of the introduction lecture. But this shy girl was a good girl; she'd never skipped a class in her life, so she plucked herself up and set off to class.

When she got to the right room, she was a little confused. There was no light coming from under the door and she could hear no sound coming from the room inside. 'We must have an early lunch,' the shy girl thought to herself. She headed into the lunchroom and told one of the teachers that she couldn't find her class. He told her to sit at a table in the back so he could figure out where she was supposed to go. But sitting at a lunch table alone on her first day of eighth grade when she didn't know anyone in any of her classes was too much for the shy girl. She abandoned her lunch and went and hid in the bathroom, endeavoring to wait until the sixth period bell and wishing she could call her mom.

And then another girl came into the bathroom looking for the shy girl.

Her name was Beth, and the shy girl had known her since grade school {although they had never really been close friends}. Beth told the shy girl that the teacher had sent Beth out to look for her. Apparently the class had been in the classroom all along. The shy girl was incredibly embarrassed to be caught hiding in the bathroom so she just let her hair fall across her face and followed Beth back to class, doing her best to disappear. Everyone stared at her when she came in, but thankfully middle school kids have the attention spans of goldfish and the whole drama was forgotten in about 30 seconds. Still, though, the shy girl had never felt so alone and had to bite her lip for the rest of the period to keep from crying. 

Soon it was lunch time, a time any shy girl dreaded, but this shy girl was having an especially bad day. She resigned herself to eating in the farthest corner where hopefully no one would see her, but then she looked up and Beth was standing there.

"You can eat with me," Beth said to the shy girl, and at that moment the shy girl didn't think she had ever been more relieved in her life. Perhaps having one person she knew around could help salvage the rest of the day.

Of course the shy girl didn't know that one lunch would turn into every lunch, and every lunch would turn into slumber parties and inside jokes, emo photoshoot nights and extreme Disney Scene-It competitions, every family function and eventually matching college dorm room bedding. But the shy girl wasn't thinking about the future that day. The future could wait, because thankfully she had someone to eat lunch with.

Many years later, the shy girl {who under the influence of Beth's bubbly and infectious personality learned not to be so shy} would wonder what would have happened if she had just turned the doorknob and joined the rest of her fifth period class that day instead of going off to lunch by herself. She would wonder if, without Beth, she would have met those amazing, once-in-a-lifetime friends that she still seeks out for advice and indie-movie marathons. She would wonder if she would ever have even looked at her university if Beth hadn't been going there {for going to KU made her the black sheep of a K-State crazy family}. She would wonder if her whole life from that point would have been totally different, if she would be totally different, if she would still be that same sad shy girl hiding in the bathroom on her first day of eighth grade. But then the girl would cast those thoughts out of her mind. What didn't happen didn't matter. And thankfully what did happen meant the world.


Tomorrow is my best friend's 21st birthday and it kills me that this is the first birthday in 8 years that I won't be there for. Like I've exhausted in numerous posts, this semester abroad has been such a wonderful experience, but there are a few things that England is missing and this girl tops the list.

My dear, you have stuck by me through that weird rocker phase of mine from early high school and you helped me learn to love the color pink. You've been there for me every time I've called you crying and every time I just needed someone to listen to me complain. And oh yeah, you've never abandoned me even after I've been six months late in giving you your birthday present {damn this year when I actually have it on time!!} You are my sister {in fact, I think my parents like you better} and I love you to the moon and back.

I've never really played into the whole "one true love" thing. That line of thinking has always seemed a little naive to meInstead, I think Dawson's Creek gets the soulmate thing down just right:

"It's like a best friend, but more. It's the one person in the world that knows you better than anyone else. It's someone who makes you a better person. Actually, they don't make you a better person, you do that yourself because they inspire you. A soulmate is someone who you carry with you forever."

You, dear, are my soulmate. Plan on our rocking chairs being side by side once our families someday dump us in that nursing home. I'll bring Fired Up if you bring Disney Scene-It, because that's all we really need, isn't it?

Happy {early} 21st.  
Can't wait until I get to celebrate with you.

blink of an eye.






















My last day in Leicester.
This semester has been a whirlwind, to say the least.
I swear I just got here. Four months passes quicker than you'd think.

Studying abroad was without a doubt the best decision I've made in my life up to this point, and to be honest I'm not saying this because of the amazing places I've seen or the amazing people I've met {although they all were, well, just really really amazing}. Before this year I've never had to depend solely on myself before. I've always had such a wonderful support system of family and close friends just a phone call and a short drive away, and while I definitely cannot complain about that, I can say that I was never sure if I had what it takes to strike out on my own. I wasn't sure if I was strong enough. But this semester has changed all that. In some ways, being alone forced me to meet myself, to finally see what I was made of when all those outside influences I grew up with were stripped away and I was left with only me.

And you know what I figured out? 

I like who I am.

I was never really sure before. Sometimes it's hard to see yourself when you're surrounded by those people who know you so well, who've been with you through all the {really embarrassing} stages of your life, who've seen you grow and change and who've grown and changed with you. Sometimes you just get lost in the familiarity of it all. At least I sure did many times. I'm not saying that I've never liked myself. I think I always have, but that's just it. I think. But after being over here, well... Now I know. I can't explain it. I'm definitely not eloquent enough for that. But without being overly cheesy {actually I may have passed that marker} I guess I can say that I finally understand myself. 
And I think that was the point of all this after all.

That's it. I'm done with the sap and the nonsense, I promise. I hope that didn't completely confuse everyone with all that. I'll admit that the threat of packing is hanging over my head and making me ramble on about things that I've probably said before and that you guys probably care nothing about.

Of course, tomorrow I'm going to the Leavesden Studios Harry Potter tour in London and, well, let's just say I hope you care about that because otherwise the pages and pages of pictures and gushing will most likely get on your nerves.

Okay, dears. Can't put off the inevitable any longer. I have to go drag those suitcases out. Wish me luck! 

5.14.2012

there's no place like home.





























I talk so much about how I love the city that sometimes I neglect to say how much I love the place I grew up. My house sits at the top of a steep hill {that at its best protects us from any river floods during rainy season and at its worst is a bitch to climb after an evening run}. From my bathroom window it's always seemed as if I could literally see the whole world. Or you know, that everything the light touched was mine? And it was. For 18 years, this was my life. This was the view I woke up to every morning. This is what I'd look out on as I was brushing my teeth. Perhaps it's not as romantic as a plush window seat in my own private nook, but from this window I would watch sunset after rainbow sunset and I would know, just know, that there had to be a point to it all. Nothing that beautiful could be completely purposeless, even if it simply served to give us hope that the sun would rise again tomorrow.

I love my home. I don't say it enough. 

In fact, it took living in another country for the last semester for me to truly understand just how ingrained this place is in me, in my chemical makeup. I expected to miss my friends and my family like crazy, of course, but I must say it has come as a surprise how much I've missed the place that just four months ago I was so excited to leave. It made me realize something:

There is a part of me that will always be a Kansas girl.

I may hate some of it. I may sometimes believe that it's closed-minded and backwards-thinking. I will never fancy the oppressive humidity and the country music festivals and the horrid shopping {because, oh, Europe has ruined me on the shopping front}. And I'll admit that it's not a place I particularly want to live in forever.

But I've seen the Eiffel Tower and sailed the Thames, I've climbed a {small} mountain in Scotland and dipped my feet in Loch Ness, I've made daisy crowns on a grassy hill overlooking the Colosseum and I've danced my way through Central Park on a day so endlessly perfect that it will be a rooted source of happiness for the rest of my life.

But there is one thing I've come to know with absolute certainty.

There is nothing in the world more beautiful and awe-inspiring for me than that moment after an evening Kansas thunderstorm when everything is still and the very earth is alive.

Kansas is my home, and no matter where I go or what I do in life, that fact will never change.

I've said it before, I'm a forward thinker. I always am losing myself in the future, and whether or not that's a bad thing, it's not something that I'm going to be able to change. Perhaps that's why my mind has already left England as an experience in the past and has  moved on to reuniting with everyone I love back home {and has also moved past the potatoes and is now focusing on the enchiladas and margaritas I plan on having as soon as I get back on Friday}. The sadness will come later, months from now when I'm sitting in my room swamped with homework and dreaming of those crazy Leicester nights. But for today, my heart knows where it wants to be. I've done everything I came here to do, learned everything I came here to learn and more.

It's time for me to go.

You'll probably never hear me say {or see me write} this ever again, not for as long as I liveAs a Kansas girl, I hope you can see why I hate this movie so much. But because I miss it, just this once, here it is:

There's no place like home.

5.12.2012

does this look familiar?






























Well, not too familiar, I sincerely hope.

Boredom does strange things to your mind.

And makes you do strange things in Photo Booth.

But still, same me in my same tiny, freakishly asylum-like room wearing these same pink pajamas because, "Hey, I think I'll only bring two nightshirts to England because I'd rather take real clothes and I'm sure I can get more pajamas there if I need them" {DIDN'T HAPPEN}.

Who would've thought that when I was one step away from insanity writing all those papers all those weeks ago just so I could be done when I got back to Leicester that when I got back to Leicester everyone else here would be one step away from insanity finishing all their papers and would have absolutely no time to do anything?

I'm finding that crazy-paper-writing insanity and crazy-boredom insanity are a lot more similar than one would originally think.

I have watched more episodes of Smallville this week than I care to tell you about.

England, it's been fun, but think I'm ready to go home.

5.10.2012

so i have this theory.

That no matter the country, no matter the language, there is an Irish pub in every city in the world.

EVERY. CITY. 

In the world.
































Paris and Interlaken, Switzerland, respectively. I'm missing the Vienna, Prague, Munich, and Florence photos.

5.09.2012

there and back again.

I've always thought "there and back again" was the perfect way to describe a journey, any journey, because is there really any way to put into words how a journey affects you, changes you? You will know, but everyone else only sees you going there and coming back again. They can never truly understand the in-between. Now that this experience is coming to an end, I realize that despite the numerous blog posts I've made in the past four months, no one will ever really be able to see this journey the way I've seen it. There will always be a little bit that I keep locked away, a piece that is sacred and only mine. And in a way, that's how it should be. We should all have a few secrets in our lives...

I still just can't believe that this journey is almost over.

The last week of my spring break was kind of pathetic, to say the least. After I left France I headed to Prague to meet up with some friends in one of the most beautiful {and interesting} cities I've ever seen. Let's just say Prague is a lot more like Amsterdam than I expected... Unfortunately, being sick kept me from doing much of anything, but it was so great to be with good friends for the final few days of my trip. Despite my illness, though, I did get to experience one perfect evening over the water.



 My last three days were spent in Berlin, which I'm going to decline to talk about seeing as how I did absolutely nothing. But that's okay. If I ever return, I can pretend it is the first time and it basically would be.

After traveling for five and a half weeks {and being sick for the last two of them}, I was just a bit exhausted and more than ready to return to England. Believe me, you don't realize how much you take ordering in English at a restaurant for granted until you spend a month in various countries where you don't speak the language. Before going back to Leicester, we spent one last day in London visiting the 2012 Olympic park {well, sort of visiting... maybe it would be more accurate to say we admired it from afar but did not actually go in because they were charging extortionist fees} and Kings Cross Station {which JKR kind of screwed up because there is no barrier between platforms 9 and 10, so instead they were forced to put a fake Platform 9 and 3/4 up off to the side. I must say I felt kind of cheated}.











































After everything that's happened the last four months, it has just occurred to me that England is not my fairytale land anymore. It's actually real, and I don't know whether to grieve for the fantasy I've lost or to embrace this place I've found that has become a sort of home. England isn't perfect. Their obsessive love of potatoes and consistently drab, moist weather are certainly a few strikes against them. But I must say, I've come to love this place and its people. Yes, I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss my real home... but I know that when I leave, I'll miss England, too.

And what kills me is I can't promise myself that I'll return.

But you know, I take that back. Even if I never return, I will come back. While, yes, England has become real for me, it will still star in my fairytales. There are some things that are too deeply ingrained to give up completely.  
For me, England will always have its dragons. 

And somehow, I think this balance is right.

5.08.2012

ooh la la. {alternatively titled: news from a newly made francophile}

To be frank {haha}, I never really thought that much about France. I was always dreaming after England with its romantic knights and princesses and dragons {well, in my head, England has always had dragons}. And its heroes straight out of a Jane Austen book... And, let's be honest, I was the girl who read Wuthering Heights under my covers at night with a flashlight because the scandal of it all was just too much to let out into the real world. It was always England for me. Paris just didn't hold the allure for me as it seems to for so many other girls.

And then, of course, I visited France.

I'll now be counting down the days/weeks/months/years until I get to go back. France is the most beautiful countries, and Paris is simply one of the most amazing cities I've ever seen

Yep, it's official. I'm smitten.


Paris had pretty much everything. Gorgeous architecture, unbelievable museums, FOOD {there is nothing I can say that would bring any sort of justice to the culinary masterpiece that is France}, sun {well, sometimes}, and the macaroons, which deserve their own category. But probably the best thing about Paris was I got to share it with my family. After being separated for 3 months, I've got to say that was definitely the best thing.



 Notre Dame was probably my favorite place in Paris. It stands on a beautiful island in the middle of the river, and although it is a lot smaller in real life than it was in the Disney movie {it's okay, though, Disney, I forgive you}, it still is one of the most awe-inspiring buildings I've ever seen. I mean, just look at it. It's both imposing and inviting at the same time. Plus, I got to make a wish on Point Zero, the point where all roads and distances in France are measured. Point Zero is, in a way, the beginning and end of France, the point where everything converges and everything splits.

Not going to lie. It was kind of cool. And not to hate on the Eiffel Tower, but I have to say that the views from the top of Notre Dame were better...



And speaking of the Eiffel Tower, um, did anyone else who hasn't been there know it was brown? Is it sad that this was such a shock to me? For the record, though, it was definitely bigger than I pictured, so I guess that makes up for Notre Dame.


And okay, maybe I can't be a true Francophile because, well, um... I didn't really like the Louvre. There. I said it. To be honest, I really am not a fan of medieval and renaissance art {and these basically made up the entire museum}. And really? The Mona Lisa? The only thing funnier than its comically tiny size was the comically large group of people crowded around it

Although I did love the escalator signs that seemed to be encouraging people to target small children in the chest or foot...


But enough hating on the Louvre. That place gets enough attention as it is. THIS PLACE, the Musee d'Orsay, was absolutely fabulous. It is this enormous abandoned train station that houses art by brilliant artists such as Degas and Renoir, Seurat and Cezanne. That is my kind of museum. I could have spent the entire day there, and when {not if} I return to Paris, I most certainly will

There are so many places in Paris that I didn't have the opportunity to visit, so really I have to go back. I don't have a choice. I haven't fully experienced the city yet.

Also, Paris has the coolest bookstore in the world. So there you go. How can I not return now?



Although out of everything that I did love about Paris, I wasn't keen on their jumbled keyboards. It was like learning to type all over again.



And yet despite  everything I saw in Paris, I don't think anything can compare to the beauty of Normandy.

Unfortunately, I have only a few pictures after we left Paris. 

And this is because, as my last post informed you guys, I got really sick only a few days into our France trip. Now, more than two weeks later, I am finally starting to get better, but it has been a really slow process. I did have a great time with my family simply because we were together but I did lose all energy to take photos {and do things in general}, which kind of sucks but just means {again} that I have to go back to France and do it healthy next time.

I'm sorry I haven't posted in weeks. Being sick made me more want to lie in bed sleeping and coughing than write anything or do anything at all. But now I'm back in Leicester and I'm getting better and I am excited to get back to normal. Right now I'm just playing catch-up with you guys. It's been way too long. I'll post again in a day or so about the rest of my trip {pathetic though it was}.

In spite of my illness, that trip was one of the most amazing, life-changing expereinces. I can't believe that I'll be going home in 10 days. Only 10 days. I just don't know where this semester went, but I do know it's a semester I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

Until soon, my dears.

xo.


Oh, random side note {I know, story of my blog}, but this really ugly fan from one of my favorite restaurants we ate at in Paris WAS OUR FAN. 
My family had this exact fan before we redid our living room a few years ago. 

WE ARE SO FRENCH.

And yes, I am aware that this is fascinating to no one but me...

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