29-day giving challenge

When I was in high school, I thought I had a very defined personality. I didn’t feel like it was going to stay the same forever, but I had a sincere belief that I was, at the mature age of 17, pretty much decided in a lot of areas. Obviously I was wrong. It only took a few months of college to expose me to whole worlds of difference and open my eyes to a million different concepts and beliefs. Now, when I take on a belief I try to do so with the understanding that it is probably transient and unformed. The beliefs are still valid and important and having them is really important, but I’m constantly trying to update and refresh my ideas with new information and different understandings. If there is one belief I hope I never get rid of, it’s the habit I’ve developed of trying to constantly challenge my ideas.

The above has a pretty tenuous connection to what I really want to write about. My university has been really great about exposing us to the importance of conservation, environmental conscience behavior, and just generally becoming more aware of the world and of other people. I’ve recently joined this challenge called the 29-Day Giving Challenge. It’s an online group dedicated to encouraging people to give something away once a day every day. It doesn’t have to be material, it can be something as simple as just sending a kind note to someone or calling a friend to encourage them. They are trying to get 2000 people to join the movement and I hope they get it. I’ll try to keep up with what I do for these 29 days.

So please check it out, http://www.29gifts.org

Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

six paths

In the next few weeks I will cross from being a junior and officially become designated as a college senior. This is already scaring the crap out of me. I always thought that once I got to this point I’d have some inkling of what I want/need to do but I can’t even begin to reason through the paths I have before me. I constructed a flow chart to see if it helped me but there are so many other things involved in these decisions that I obviously couldn’t put in…ugh, I need some flash of inspiration.

You can see the awesome flowchart I constructed instead of doing work or actually considering what I need to do with the rest of my life….

Flow chart I've created about my future

Published in: on April 23, 2008 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

great success

I got an internship with NI this summer! I will be doing corporate copy editing in the marketing and communications department. I am pretty excited. It’s in Austin which sucks because I hate driving and the idea of commuting does not make me very comfortable but I can’t always be comfortable. I think this will be a really great addition to my resume and experience base which is pretty awesome.

In other news, I was reelected to be Editor-in-Chief for next year which is also exciting. Cake is coming to our school for a concert. The CD I’ve been trying to get for ages finally downloaded. Tama is over his cold and cuddling with Maylie (my cats).  I don’t have reading for one of my classes tomorrow. AND, I lost 6 pounds. It’s been a good day.

Unfortunately, anytime I have a really sincerely good day I always feel this overhanging sense of doom. I know it makes no sense but I always get this feeling like something bad is going to happen when everything good starts piling up. I know I should just be happy but that isn’t me…lol. I have to stress out about what’s going to ruin all of this, without stopping the fact that I’m ruining it by freaking out right now. It’s strange but it is just how I handle good things in life, by ruining them…

Really it’s ridiculous.

So, that’s all, good news all around except for the whole freaking out thing. I’m going to read some Indian philosophy for class now and try to enjoy life for how good it is right now.

Published in: on March 27, 2008 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

delayed

Well, I knew that as soon as school started up I’d end up being bad about posting. But here’s a very late post.

I still miss Europe but it isn’t anywhere near as intense as it used to be. I went on a picnic today with Michael and enjoyed the beauty of Texas that can only really be pleasurable for the months of March and October because otherwise the weather is unbearable. It was great, we had wine, cheese, pasta pesto salad, crackers, oil and bread, fresh strawberries and chocolate. I have never been interested in having crazy spring break experiences, I’m much happier hanging out with my cats and boyfriend and cooking or seeing the things around me that I never get to see usually.

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately. I made my first ever cake, carrot cake, from scratch the other day and it was delicious. Everyone I gave it to immediately exclaimed about how good it was. I also made a delicious meal last night of chicken fried chicken, gravy, corn fritters, green beans, and garlic cheddar cheese biscuits. Oh and Michael helps a ton of course, he’s brilliant in the kitchen.

This blog is supposed to be about my travels and my experiences with travels and sadly this is part of it, the process of moving on with your life and trying to incorporate what you experienced into the more mundane bits. I know Michael and I are both desperately hoping to live in Ireland one day, especially considering how dire the economy is in America as well as our deep concerns over the government here. I have problems with a lot of things that go on in Europe, but I feel like they at least got some of the more important things right than the US does and I’m not sure I want to waste the rest of my life here trying to make it work. Of course, since I’m planning on going to be a professor the chance of me getting a job in Ireland or the UK is pretty much nil. But I’m applying for several internships in marketing this summer so maybe I’ll feel like that’s what I want to do. I’m not sure I want to spend the rest of my life manipulating ideas for some corporation that I have little to no personal investment in, but I know that if that is what I need to do to live in a place like Ireland rather than in the US maybe it’s better? I don’t know, I’m only 20 and there is plenty of time to work these things out, even if it feels otherwise.

I’ve added a picture of the London tube design we made out of photos from Europe. I hope you all like it and if you want some information on how we did it feel free to ask! :)

Wall art

Wall art

Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 2:51 am  Comments (1)  

all the same but so different

Class starts today and I’m posting this from the library on campus. I walked around the campus a bit and was shocked how completely foreign it feels after just one semester away. There are so many freshmen who I don’t know, the buildings have changed, the offices have moved around, etc. But even the things that are the same as when I left still feel really foreign. It all feels so much smaller and less important now. In London I spent every moment focusing on enjoying my time to the fullest and now I don’t know how to apply that philosophy to this life. I know that my view of England is idealized but it doesn’t change the fact that somehow I have to reconcile those four months with my life now. I think that honestly I miss the study abroad experience more than London.

On a happier note, Michael and I finished our wall decoration. We took about 150 photographs that we took on our trip and arranged them to look like the London tube sign. It’s this huge monstrous thing on our wall now and it’s pretty awesome if I say so myself. I love looking at the photos during commercials or something and remembering how great it was to have been there or how cold it was or how I felt about it at the time. I’m not sure if it’s making it harder for me to move on or if it helps me keep in touch with the life-altering experience it was. Either way it’s there and it’s fabulous.

You know when you’ve been gone for a while and you come home and you ask, “Was that there before?” and they say, “of course”? That’s how I feel. I keep looking at things and feeling sure that they’re different but in reality it’s just that I am looking at them differently.

I know in a few weeks once school really gets going and I get busy and involved I won’t feel so much like a fish out of water. I’ll still miss England but I’ll be focused on getting an issue of the paper out and on finishing that essay or reading that book. I’m looking forward to that but I know that when I come home and see those photos I’ll feel pretty sad that my work has become my life and it’s focused on production rather than experience.

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 4:45 pm  Comments (3)  

home sweet home

So I’ve been home for several weeks now and the culture shock has subsided. I no longer look at everything and think it’s strange compared to life in London. I do feel quite lonesome for Europe though. It isn’t as much of an emotional feeling as an intellectual one now. I have been contemplating life in America and my life in the time I spent in London and I have to say that the difference is extreme and London consistently comes out on top. I know a lot of that has to do with the fact that my time there was really very idyllic. I did not have to deal with much real life issues so of course my view of it is considerably more favourable (that’s right, I used the British spelling!). Regardless, I do feel that the overall positive feeling I have for England is based on realistic issues. I love how environmentally aware they are, how everyone walks so much, how the portions are so much smaller than those here (omg, food is so giant here!), etc. I like how they view drinking and how the lifestyle I led there was a healthier and more positive one than mine here. I love that every weekend when I wondered what I could do it included: visiting another country, going to a museum, going to a festival, visiting a religious site, seeing historical sites,  viewing a foreign film, going to a nightclub, shopping, etc. Now my options for the weekend are pretty much limited to: shopping.

I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to live in the UK again in my lifetime but I sincerely hope that I do. I would probably appreciate living in the US more if I had to deal with real life issues in another country but I know that living in London with all of the culture and history was the best experience of my life and I’d love to repeat it.

Published in: on December 29, 2007 at 8:32 pm  Comments (1)  

reverse culture shock

There were many things that I did in London after the last post, but it seems silly to recount it all now. I don’t think it would have the same tone as if I were writing it from London. It’s so strange being home. The reverse culture-shock is stronger than I expected. I expected that I would be surprised by the size of things and by the weather and maybe miss London some but overall that would be it. I didn’t realize I would feel more out of place here upon returning than I ever felt in London. I think England as home now rather than here and that is a little sad to me that I feel so displaced.

I can’t describe the feeling. If you’ve read The Golden Compass I imagine it feels a bit like being severed. It goes beyond noticing the size of things or the change in accent. I’m glad to be here and to see my friends and family and to eat my familiar food again but being over here on this part of the world doesn’t feel right anymore. I see other people who studied abroad and I recognize the same feeling.

I guess I’ll get used to it and it won’t feel like a huge part of me is missing any more.  One day the four months I spent in Europe will blur into a few memories and the vividness of life there will be less clanging against the life I lead here. I don’t look forward to that time, even though it will make living here easier.

Published in: on December 13, 2007 at 7:02 pm  Comments (1)  

vodka in the rock

The British really love their Christmas. On Halloween day all of the candy and decorations were removed and replaced with Christmas decorations. Now it’s reaching a fevered pitch and I cannot imagine how it is going to be the week before Christmas. So David came in to see us on Friday. We went to the Absolut Ice Bar at 11:45 pm. It is a bar made entirely out of ice. They give you a really warm cape with gloves and a hood and you go in there and you get a drink made of Absolut Vodka that is served in an ice cube cup. It was cool…ha ha. But really it was fun. The bar is right off of Picadilly Circus and it was mayhem there once midnight hit. The tubes stopped running so the only way we, and thousands of other people, could get home was via taxi. We saw three guys get into a fist fight and a lot of drunk people staggering around before we finally muscled our way into a taxi.

Yesterday we went back to Piccadilly Circus so we could eat at Argyll Arms near the London Palladium and then go to the Apple store. The moment we got out of the tube I thought something was wrong. The streets were blocked off, there were people everywhere. I couldn’t figure out if there was a terrorist threat or a celebrity nearby. But no, it is just that Christmas is just around the corner (apparently). Seriously, there were DJs playing loud Christmas music, people on stilts, huge balloons, people in character suits (like Shrek), people dressed up like elves, etc. It was insane. Because it was the 1st of December and that means that Christmas is practically next week, everyone was out. It was so packed and crazy. Anyway, when we got to the Arms, it too was packed but it was really yummy and a very pretty pub. David owns an iPhone and it too is very pretty and probably the most phenomenal piece of machinery I’ve ever seen. After lunch we went to the Apple store which was big and imposing and, yet again, way too full. We left without buying anything and I had developed a migraine after being around all of the people and all of the chaos. Michael escorted me home where I took some medicine and a nap while the boys went and did what boys do (Guitar Hero 3 specifically I believe).

We all met up again last night and went to Wagamama’s on Leicester Square for dinner before going to see Spamalot. The first half was basically a rehash of The Holy Grail but the second half was quite enjoyable. We had horrid seats but whatever, it’s a West End show. We headed home because we didn’t want to be out in that kind of party environment a second night in a row.

And today I’m not sure what we’re doing…London is rainy and dismal as usual. This time next week I’ll be on a plane heading to Dallas and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I know that I feel quite closed in and claustrophobic now that the Christmas rush has maddened everyone here. Seriously, their eyes loll up into their head and their tongues hang out a bit as they batter you with their massive shopping bags. It’s worse than Mad Cow disease. I’m excited about driving in a car rather than being packed into a tin can to get from place to place. I am looking forward to not spending $20+ for every meal, even cheap ones. I am especially looking forward to sleeping without being woken up by drunkards on the street below me who feel like 4 am is a great time to start a chorus line. Don’t get me wrong, I love London and I’m going to miss it horribly, but I feel like it’s about time to head home.

Published in: on December 2, 2007 at 12:12 pm  Comments (1)  

a british thanksgiving

I think I forgot to mention in my mosques and temples post that I went to Windsor Castle with Johnny and Sandy and the queen was there. We didn’t see her but the castle was pretty phenomenal nonetheless. Definitely like the way you expect castles to be.

So we were planning to go to Edinburgh but the tour fell through and we just decided to stay in London over Thanksgiving. It’s funny how holidays can follow you. I woke up yesterday morning feeling like it was Thanksgiving, even though I’m in a country that doesn’t celebrate it and there hasn’t been any real build-up to it like we have in the states. I’m really glad we stayed so far because last night was a ton of fun. CAPA hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with a pub style quiz afterwards. The food was pretty good. The iced tea on the other hand…not so good. But, whatever. I’ll be having proper iced tea in a few weeks time. We had turkey and little stuffing balls which were kind of strange, uncanned cranberry sauce which was really yummy, potatoes (roasted and mashed), steamed veggies, and buttery sweet corn. If you know me at all, you know that those last two items thrilled me to no end. For desert we had coffee and pumpkin pie. It was all very yummy.

For the next part to mean much to you, you first have to understand how Southwestern is, particularly here. We are the only private institution here that CAPA hosts in London. Our uni puts in tons of money for this program and has done so for over 20 years. We are frequently considered the smartest and most privileged of the groups here. So, when they announced a pub quiz, we all jumped into action to defend our reputation. We divided into groups of six and began. We named our group The Polyglots to demonstrate how smart we are. We were almost The Persnickety Polyglots but we decided not to push it too much. So after the first 3 rounds or so they announced the top 3 and much to our shock and horror, none of the 2 SU groups were in it. At this point we were really discouraged and started making comments about how we had internet (many of the other grps don’t in their flats) and just generally being snarky. We, holding fast to our SU creed of race, class, and sex, made Michael go up since he is a white male to see if that would swing things in our way. It must have because when they announced the winners, the other SU group was 4th and we were 1st! We felt very proud to have upheld the SU name as the best and to prove that we really are all smart ass nerds. It was pretty hilarious actually.

Afterwards everyone left but like 7 of us girls and Michael (of course) and so we girls danced while Michael lecherously sat and watched. We danced to MMMBop, Hot In Here, Genie in a Bottle, and a bunch of 80s music. The DJ got us all shots (of like apple juice or something) and it was really fun. It was definitely the most unusual Thanksgiving I’ve had but probably one of the most fun as well.

For the rest of the week I think Michael and I are going to the Natural History Museum, the Barbican, National Gallery, and National Portrait Gallery. We are also going to try to see a movie since we haven’t been to a movie theatre since we got here.

Published in: on November 23, 2007 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  

paris part deux and coming home

Last weekend Michael and I went to Paris with his mother, grandmother, and sister. We went to see Wicked in London before we left as well and it was phenomenal. There really is nothing so amazing as a London West End play.

So Paris. We were staying in this lovely hotel right in front of the Louvre. We got there on the Eurostar which was interesting. It goes underneath the English channel which discomfited me a bit but overall it was pretty nice. Paris was freeeezing. It was like 30 degrees plus the wind chill made it a lot colder. The first day was bearable but Sunday was horribly cold. The first day we went to the Musee D’Orsay which is a reconfigured train station. It’s really lovely with this gorgeous big clock. We saw some Renoirs and Monets, Degas and Van Goghs. It was quite nice. Then we went to the dinner cruise on the Seine. After we got a taxi that is…yet again there was a transport strike so everyone wanted a taxi. It was ridiculous. But, we finally got one and the cruise was phenomenal. I had snails (not as good as the first time but pretty yummy nonetheless), veal, and some pear dessert and a ton of wine. I’ve never drunk a lot of wine but Michael kept filling my glass up so I definitely enjoyed the trip. It was beautiful to see Paris at night from the river. Quite enjoyable.

The next day we went to the Louvre which was pretty nice. Honestly I preferred Musee D’Orsay. It might be because the Louvre is so giant and really confusing to navigate. But, it was still really nice. Definitely worth a visit. That evening we went and had dinner on the Champs Elysees at Planet Hollywood and got some photos of the Arc De Triomphe. Michael’s family left the next day so we planned on going to the Galleria Lafayette. Alas it and Printemps were both closed.  So we found some place to eat lunch and looked at the windows and then we went to the Carousel Louvre which is a shopping centre next to the Louvre. It was fun. Afterwards we headed out and got home.

It was good to get back to London. As lovely as Paris is (and it really is), London feels like home. We got home, went to a pub and had a proper dinner. We were planning on heading to the Scottish highlands for Thanksgiving but the tour fell through so we just canceled the trip and decided to enjoy some of our last free days here.

Last night Michael and I went to Hamley’s which is a huge 7 floor toy store. It was fun but pretty obnoxious how gendered it really was. The girl’s floor was all pink and dolls, the boy’s floor was all weapons and trucks. But, apart from that, it was really enjoyable and as we left we noticed that there was no traffic and tons of people on the sides of the road. We asked a bobby what was going on and she told us that they were lighting the Christmas lights. We got some dinner and walked out and saw them. There’s something amazing about just walking down a lit Christmas road in Piccadilly at night. It was so beautiful and busy. I can’t help but feel like this is home.

I leave for Texas in about 17 days. I am excited about seeing my parents and eating some good food, but honestly, I know that after a few days I’m going to start feeling home sick for walks along lit roads and traffic noise and being legally able to drink…I think the next semester is going to be really hard for me to get used to Southwestern again after having fallen in love with London so much.

Published in: on November 21, 2007 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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