Monday, March 31, 2014

Real Talk

The beginning of this is a post written especially for those who are interested in studying abroad themselves. It is a realistic look into a very normal part of the emotional process of living so far from home. While it is an amazing experience I wish everyone could have the privilege of doing, it isn't always the glamorous, carefree, and easy life some paint it to be. It is hard being away from familiarity and not getting to share in the good and bad of the people you love most. It is hard being in a place where you don't always know where to go and people don't necessarily know your language. It is hard to realize that not everyone is like you.

But it is also the best part, because that is when you know that there is so much more to learn and appreciate that you never even considered possible, and had you stayed home you would have never even realized it.

This week has been completely different from any other weeks I have had here. Between stresses with school, being sick, dealing with a trip suddenly being cancelled (yep, Berlin and Prague died due to having not enough people sign up, my heart is actually broken), and having it snow again, I found myself missing home a lot and constantly comparing everything to what I considered to be "normal".

I can't even believe it has been almost 3 months since my sisters brought me to the airport. Wow.

There was even a couple of days where everything (and I mean everything) annoyed me. It's like the rose colored glasses had been removed and I was seeing things for what they are instead of marveling at every little detail. We had been warned of this phenomenon during our orientation when we were taught about the stages of culture adaptation. I am fairly certain I am at the "confronting deeper cultural/personal issues" one and it will only be up from here. But still, yikes. The struggle is real.

I am especially surprised at how bothered I feel over how much people think they know about the US. I say I am American and at first they are all like "Wow! Really? Oh that is so awesome, I have always wanted to go there! I can't believe I am meeting you, what are the chances? Can I have your autograph?" (Maybe a little dramatic, but just a little.) And then it always turns into something like "Oh so everyone eats McDonald's for every meal? And if you don't have health insurance, they just watch you die on the street? And, I know that if you are a woman in government who is a single parent, you are shunned by all other politicians." Uhhhh what?! Where do people even get this stuff? Absolutely ridiculous. Bye. I don't know why people care so much about what (they think) is going on in the US. So strange. 

Despite my inner struggles, it was an okay week. Pretty average, actually, with the exception of a final exam. I had choir on Monday, had class and studied on Tuesday, nannied on Wednesday, took my exam on Thursday, and attended a birthday party on Friday. Since my exam on Thursday, I feel so much more relaxed. Test anxiety does not care which hemisphere you are in, apparently. I am excited for my next (and final) courses to begin, Film Study and Intercultural Communication. 

On Saturday, we enjoyed the Carnaval Party (and probably had more fun making costumes than anything else :) )

On Sunday, a group of us went to the lake (Lake Vänern to be exact, which is the 3rd largest lake in Europe and also happens to be a 10 minutes drive from campus). It was

Laying on a rock, good times.

We even stayed for the sunset. It was such a relaxing way to end a stressful week. You got it right, that is a #sunsetselfie 

So, now after all of the negativity is off my chest, here comes the upswing of my experience. I can feel it. Helped along by the soon to come beautiful spring weather, of course. I will be traveling to Rome in just over a week and have other travel plans in the works of being confirmed. Nothing but good things ahead and I am excited for this stage to pass. That being said, a big shout out to the amazing folks at home, can't wait to see you in a very short 3 months. Much love!

PS I love my floormates and don't know what I would do without them. So lucky :)