Returning to Reality 

It’s July 18, I have been back in America for exactly three weeks now. I’ve seen many family members, friends, ate at restaurants I missed terribly while I was away, and spent way too much time with my dogs. I’m back. After 6 months of living the Welsh life, I’m back. The thoughts rolling through this brain of mine that has been around the world are sometimes overwhelming.

I am one of countless people who have traveled the world and come back home, only to find their souls are now too big for the town that gave them the roots to leave in the first place.

I once made a bucket list when I was about 10 years old, and although I don’t recall everything that was on it, I’m quite positive I have accomplished a large majority of what was on that list- all before my 21st birthday.

I know how lucky I am. I know I have done more in my short 20 years than my most people will do in their entire lives. I am not seeking sympathy as I know I wouldn’t get it, however I do feel it necessary to explain the feelings known as “reverse culture shock” because it is all too real.

At our study abroad orientation, our advisers explained several emotional responses that people typically feel when experiencing a brand new place, as well as when they return home. They explained a “culture shock cycle” that must of us would go through. It basically said we would have our honeymoon phase where everything is new and exciting and wonderful, and then we would go downhill for a while until we hit our valley. We would start to miss home, become irrationally angry at how our new host country/people did things, and become somewhat depressed and isolated. But then the cycle would continue, and we would ride up our mountain to a state of excitement and joy for being in our new world. This cycle would continue until we felt content and no longer experience this shock.

I kept waiting for my waves of the cycle to come. To feel homesick, lost, scared, etc. But I can honestly say it never arrived. I enjoyed every second, every boring day, every long bus ride, every crabby bus driver, every crabby person that seemed to be crabby for no reason, everything. I was happy and content. The ability to travel to new places whenever I wanted was something I always longed for. I was living my dream every day.

Now, getting to the reverse of this emotional response. Coming home! Something that’s in the back of any traveler’s mind from the moment they leave, whether they like it or not. I could try as hard as I could to not think about it, but coming home is always inevitable.

The mixture of feelings returning travellers feel is confusing and scary and sad and happy and strange all at the same time. Small things have changed- relationships, friendships, the new dental office on the south end of town, the natural progression of life. But one of the most “shocking” things is that nothing has really changed all that much. Except you. You packed up all your things and did the most brave thing you’ve done in your life so far – you left. You lived a completely different life and were forced to eat new food and make new friends and try to understand people who speak differently than you. You travelled constantly, you spent more time on buses and trains and planes than you did in your own bed at times. You saw the world, or at least a part of it. And now you’re thrown back into a world that still thinks of you as the same person you were when you left. Little do they know you will never be the same. Your soul has grown and your horizons have widened and the travel bug has burrowed deeper into your skin, forever being a pushing force to make you want to leave again. 

As depressing as that may all sound, I don’t want anyone to think I regret studying abroad, because it truly was the best decision I ever made. I would never take back all the memories and adventures even if I knew it would feel this way when it was all over. Not a chance. The truth is, life can’t possibly be exciting and wonderful and exhilarating 100% of the time. It just doesn’t work that way. Think of your favorite book. Was every single chapter wonderful and great and exciting and had you on the edge of your seat? Probably not. You remember the chapters that matter most when you look back at it. But the others, the fillers, have to be there as well for many reasons- growth of characters, stability, developing relationships, explanations, and just chill time.  You have moments and stretches of time where you are living the dream-literally- with your head in the clouds. But eventually you have to come down and rejoin reality, for at least a little while. Your friends and family need you more than you probably know; and you need them too. Then you can go back to reliving the memories and continuing to dream of the never ending adventures you will pursue in your future. 

Always take that leap of faith, always follow your dreams, put yourself first at times, but also be selfless!!! Thank you so much for coming with me on this journey, I’m signing off until my next adventure. 

See you soon,

Rosie ❤️

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Adventure of a Lifetime 

Exactly ten days from today I get on a plane heading back to the life I knew for 20 years before I came to the new life I’ve known for the past six months. I am scared, sad, excited, nervous,and  anxious all at once. It feels very familiar as these are the emotions I had before coming here not so long ago. I have no idea what to expect upon my return. Will I be happy right away? Missing the UK immediately? How will my friends and family welcome me after six months apart? I’ve changed so much that I don’t know how to return to a place that hasn’t changed at all. 

My last week in Swansea is consisting of lots of chilling out and thinking about all the money I’ve spent through travelling and attempting to not spending any more. I can honestly say the only downside to studying abroad is the hella money it costs, especially living in the UK. The exchange rate is real crap for Americans, which we discovered almost immediately.   However every pence I spent was worth it. I don’t regret anything as I’ve saved years for this and the experiences and memories I’ve made are priceless.
I want to dedicate the rest of this post to the greatest night of my entire life: June 16th, 2016.  Last November I awoke at the crisp hour of 5 AM (11 AM UK time) to purchase a ticket to the show that I have always dreamed of. Coldplay- in their hometown, on the ground as close to the stage as I could get. I bought one ticket, unsure if I would be making any friends as I was fully prepared to go alone. Little did I know I would make a special British friend Luke and have my best friend Carroll from America with me during this time. So, being the wonderful person I am I bought them both tickets (refer back to the part where I’ve spent WAY too much money). 

Needless to say I had been counting down to this day since November. Coldplay is my favourite band in the entire world. I have their lyrics permanently inked on my right shoulder blade and I know every song by heart. I knew that this night would be the best ever, especially with two of my favorite people by my side.

I have been on the floor for concerts and festivals before, but never for one of the most popular bands in the world in their home city of London, therefore I was not prepared for the ruthless fight we were going to have to endure to get to the front. 

The first hurdle we crossed was the fact that I bought all our tickets at separate times, meaning we were each required to enter different gates. None of the security guards would budge and let us enter together, which was a problem considering we arrived 5 hours before the gates open to get a place in line. Thankfully Luke used his social skills to persuade two lone people to switch tickets  with us so we could all be together- apparently British people can be nice! Who knew.

We then waited five hours for the gates to open, which we occupied with painting ourselves with glitter and body paint to become pretty Coldplay princesses. However, the fun and cutesie times had to disperse as the gates opened and it was every man and woman for themselves. We all charged forward as the security guards were screaming for us to slow down. With full force we ran to the doors and scanned our tickets and collected our light up wrist bands and headed for the opening to the stadium. The fight wasn’t quite over- we still had to make it to the floor. There was a flight of stairs and more security in our way. As we stood in the crowd waiting for them to let us through, I managed to snap this nice selfie. We may look friendly but I was prepared to knock over every one of these fools. 

As the guards moved aside we charged forward and down the stairs and took off in a full sprint towards the stage. They were still screaming for us so slow down but if no one was slowing down then neither were we. So we completely ignored them and kept running. We got to the front with only one row of people between us and the very front!!!!  All my dreams were coming true and I didn’t even have to clothesline or tackle anyone! 

I hardly have words for how incredible the concert was. Their music filled Wembley stadium while Chris Martin’s unmatched dance moves pleased our eyes. The illuminated wristbands lit up Wembley stadium like a huge Christmas tree and it was a sight that could never be forgotten. This was my 2nd time seeing them live and certainly won’t be the last (it actually won’t be as I am seeing them July 23rd in Chicago-so pumped). It was incredible, exhilarating, heart pumping, emotional, and the perfect way to starting the ending of my time here. Thank you so much Coldplay for your music and second to none performances. Also huge thanks to my best friend and boyfriend for accompanying me, standing for a total of about 12 hours with the queues and the show and the journey home, and for sharing this experience with me, it wouldn’t have been the same without you. 

Once again, thanks for reading what will probably be one of my final blogs abroad. It has been great fun documenting my time here. 

See you soon,

Rosie 

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One month

The last blog I wrote with the title “One Month” was referring to my first month in Swansea; now this one with the identical title is somehow my final month. I have no idea how this is possible…How can a dream that started as a tiny idea in my 15 year old possibly only have one month left? As I sit and reflect on the last four and a half months, I can’t even begin to explain everything I’ve learned, experienced, and gained as a person. I mentioned in an earlier post, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget my mom telling me as she hugged me goodbye in the airport “all your dreams are coming true”, as my eyes were filled with tears as I wandered off into the line for a plane taking me to a completely unknown future.

I am currently visiting my French BFF in Paris, and all I’ve thought third my visit here is how incredibly lucky I am in so many ways. Lucky to be able to continue my education in a new country and continent, lucky to gain so many new friends and special people in my life, lucky to visit new cities and explore new cultures, lucky to try all the foods (both good and bad), and lucky to have loved ones excited for my arrival back in America in a month. I am truly the luckiest gal in all the world.

Life in Swansea is rarely boring to me, if I am ever looking for something to do I can just grab some pals or even just myself and wander to the beautiful beach. I will miss this more than anything when I’m back in my landlocked state (sorry ND but you are the geographical Center of America and as far away from an ocean as possible). There are so many small blessings that come from living there that I will long for when I’m home.

HOWEVER, I rarely think of what is to come when this incredible journey is over, as I have so much to still look forward to. Tomorrow we head to Dublin to fulfill yet another dream of mine of visiting Ireland. After our return to Swansea and one more exam, my Best friend Carroll is coming from across the pond to experience good old Wales and I could not be more excited. To add onto that, French BFF Margaux is coming too. Like I said, luckiest person in the entire world.  To add to the list – Summer ball at Swansea Uni, Coldplay concert in London,  a couple more tourist visits to London, probably an impromptu trip to somewhere new, and of course days of straight Beachin’. So many festivities that there is no time for sadness.

There are also so many things I look forward to returning to- MY DOG, family, friends, driving wherever and whenever I want, good food, and peers and professors at UND. I dread nothing as I know I will always have memories and photos to continue this experience forever.

Life is so good y’all, cherish every moment and every person. Smile at strangers, eat good food, and laugh often. Thanks for reading yet again!!! Enjoy some Paris pics! See you soon and au revoir,


Rosie

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Bring Qdoba to Wales 

After weeks and even months of avoiding it, I have officially booked my plane ticket to return to good old US of A. On June 27th the states will once again be graced with my presence. This idea sends emotions through my head I can’t even begin to explain. Much of it sadness, but also excitement to return to the things I miss dearly (qdoba).

The feeling in the air of the Hendrefoilan and even Swansea amongst our group of pals is pretty clear- we have much less time here than we’ve been here, if that makes sense. Some of our friends only have a week to a month left, which is insane. We have fallen into such a routine of spending every day together that the thought of being apart seems impossible.

I have been trying to work through those thoughts in my head concerning returning home, and I have not been successful in translating them. There are so many things, people, foods, and little details I miss about home. I get random moments of wishing I was home for about five minutes, then realize if I actually was I would probably cry and want to be back in Swansea. I have had recurring dreams from the beginning of my time here that I am back in Grand Forks, however I realize in the dream that I still have school to attend, so I then proceed to try to buy my plane ticket but something always stops me- usually it’s either being poor or the dream just ends. This has happened at least five or six times now, and I being to wonder what my subconscious mind is feeling. Sometimes dreams really have a way of showing things you are burying deep inside your brain. Which probably explains the dream I had the other night where I couldn’t decide whether I wanted spaghetti or tator tots for supper so I chose both. 

ANYHOO, there is a plethora of fun festivities to look forward to in our remaining time, and for now I will enjoy my last two months in the country I have grown to love with the people who have changed my life. But for all you Americans patiently awaiting my arrival, you at least have a date to count down to now!!! Thanks for reading and SEE YOU SOON,

Rosie 

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2.5 weeks 5 countries

Hola amigos,

Everyone thankfully arrived safe and sound in good ol’ Swansea after all of our European adventures. It turns out that constant buses, trains, language barriers, walking, navigating, and searching for tacos is both mentally and physically exhausting. It is definitely not something I could do everyday, but it was incredible; worth every penny and stress. However, it felt pretty great to be back in Wales. I tried to decide a way to document all of our experiences, and realized I would be really crap at writing it all out. Therefore, what better way to show our extravaganza then through the lense of my iPhone 6s (after I got it fixed, shout out to the guy in the French apple store who spoke zero English for fixing it!!) So, here is just a glimpse into our 18 day journey through Europe- ENJOY !!

 

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SPRANG BREAK

PRE DEPARTURE!

Every spring break of my life up to this point has consisted of either visiting family the next state over, sleeping, eating, watching TV with my dog, or some combination of all of these. Therefore this impending three-week long holiday is both a dream come true and a nightmare at the same time. The nightmare part is the planning, where as the dream come true is the actual adventure. My friend Lexie & I will say Peace Out to Swansea and attempt to navigate our way through 5 countries without getting ourselves lost or into too much trouble. The title of this basically gives away my feelings for the past month or so- planning a three week long Spring Break tour through five countries is NOT THAT MUCH FUN. It basically feels like a combo of torture and homework- which are actually quite similar.

 

The reason why planning such a big trip is so difficult is because there are so many details and kinks to work out. You not only have to choose how many places you can squeeze into three weeks, you have to figure out how to get to each place, how to get between each place, where to sleep, what you will actually be DOING in these places (we have yet to do this), and I won’t even begin to start on the packing. This is mainly because I haven’t started packing because I don’t want to think about the pain of “packing lightly”. Those who know me know I’m not particularly good at that.

HOWEVER, this problem is probably the best in the world to have, because this trip is something I have dreamed of for as long as I can remember.Our journey starts off by spending a night in Amsterdam, then heading to Ghent, Belgium, then spending a week in France (Paris & Marseilles), hopping and skipping our way to Barcelona, and finally ending our festivities by meeting up with our fellow crazy Americans to be on a three day Greek cruise. To say I’m excited would never be able to explain how pumped I truly am. The only downside is I don’t think I have any luggage space to pack 17 days worth of marshmallows and cholula so I might have to go without.

THREE DAYS LATER!
To continue my streak of having the worst luck with phones in the entire world, my two month old iPhone 6s decided to crap out on me about an hour before our bus left for London. Hence the lateness of this section- laugh out loud. I am now getting used to the heartbreak of losing every photo ever and just accepting the fact that the memories live in my head. It’s ok to cry for me if you want. 

We are three days into our adventure, and  every day gets better and better. Some of our favorite parts have  been when a loaded older couple offered us a ride to our Airbnb in Belgium, or when we thought we were buying waffles from a vending machine but it turned out to be a loaf of bread (blessing in disguise for sure, no regrets). Luckily we found an Apple Store on one of our stops on the way and although the guy spoke zero English he fixed my phone in about 28 seconds. Next stop is Paris!

Also, I have definitely ran out of mallows already so the struggle is getting real. Still have plenty of cholula.
See you soon!

Rosie

  

 

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Home

My days are filled with being surrounded by my new favorite people, spending money I probably shouldn’t, walking endlessly through new cities pretending like I know what’s happening, and sometimes going to school. JK on the last one- contrary to what my Instagram may portray, I do actually do educational things here, I just don’t document them. I would never get any likes if I did!

Day to day life has become my new favorite thing. I am almost never bored, as there’s always something to do or some adventure to go on. The days pass way too quickly, as do the weeks and even now the months. I have been here 6 and a half weeks which is impossible. There is no way I have been here that long. I have to force myself to not think about the day where I won’t be here anymore, although that is pretty impossible as well.

Since my last wonderful post, we have been on a few excursions from Swansea which were pretty successful if you ask me (people don’t usually ask me though). Our weekend trip to Amsterdam was incredible, we walked a lot, ate a lot, laughed a lot, and I almost didn’t get let back into the UK. Just a typical day in the life of me!!!! To clarify- apparently the customs fellow at Heathrow airport gave me the wrong Visa the day I got here, and the customs gal coming back from Amsterdam weren’t totally convinced that I was a student in Swansea. Eventually I used my charm and sparkling personality to convince her, but it was a little scary and we actually ended up missing the ferry since it took so long.Oh well!!!!!

Our next adventure was a weekender trip to London to celebrate our friends birthday. Eight of us set out at the ungodly hour of 4:40 AM to catch a 5:20 bus, and for some reason I’ll never know I decided to not sleep at all the night before. I think I thought it would be harder to wake up early, so if I didn’t sleep, I wouldn’t have to wake up! Not one of my brightest ideas. As in Amsterdam, we spent 3 days walking, eating some more, seeing things, and celebrating our friend Jamie’s third 21st birthday (also known as 23rd). It was a successful weekend with some of my favorite people.

Before I left, I was questioned many times on why I chose Swansea. I never truly knew how to answer them, because I didn’t have an exact reason. It looked like a fun place to study, it’s easy access to other places in Europe, and they speak English. There really wasn’t any other ways I could justify my decision to come here. However, after being here I can honestly say that choosing Swansea was the best decision I have ever made. I find myself missing it even when we go away for a few days. For 20 years, my only “home” has been Grand Forks, but this cold, rainy, crazy place is quickly becoming another home for me. My advice to anyone who may be considering studying abroad or is struggling to choose where to go- go with your gut feeling, and don’t be discouraged if you really don’t have any other reason besides “it looks like fun”. It just may turn out to be your new favorite place.

See you soon,

Rosie

 

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