Hello, it’s me.
I’m back in the good old US of A!!
First things first: I know I could win an award for least-reliable blogger at this point. Granted, things are still iffy with the hacking (it’s totally safe for you to be on this site right now, it’s just background problems on my end!) and this blog is going to undergo a host-company shift which will hopefully get it more cleaned up and inspire me to post
But to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t blog a lot these past 4 months because instead I surprised myself by writing in my journal almost every day that I was abroad. Looking back, this trip was supposed to be about me and myself more than anything. And focusing on that did more for me than I could have ever imagined.
Over the past few months I’ve accumulated marathons of walking around the streets of Prague exploring and getting lost. I ziplined through the woods in Interlaken and drank Sangria with good friends in Madrid. I dodged bikes around the cute streets of Amsterdam and danced my face off in the clubs in Budapest. I dealt with my elevator fear to see incredible views in Bratislava, bartered at a flea market in Vienna and was humbled by history in Krakow. I had brown bread and potatoes with a pint in Dublin, and pretzels with a stein in Munich. I slept (terribly) in an airport in Milan so I could get to Cinque Terre for one of the coolest hikes I’ve ever been on, and then on to Florence where I watched the sunset and realized I’d found a city I loved almost as much as Prague.
If you want to hear more details of my abroad trip, come talk to me and I’d be happy to share. This post is about a much smaller, subtle thing that started to happen when I was traveling.
You might have read my first blog post just before I left about hoping (but not really expecting) that going abroad will finally make me feel like I’m close to recovered. I didn’t really let on just how bad things were for me at the time. I wasn’t in a good place mentally, was struggling a lot with self-harm and honestly I was terrified that things were going to continue downhill. But the complete opposite happened.
I could write out and retell the progression here, but I think its more interesting to look at it in my journal where it was happening right before my eyes. My perspective started to change. I kinda sorta started to really like myself. And it just so happened that the times I was writing about feeling happier than ever were in some of the simplest settings despite being in such incredible places. Things had begun to snowball once I got ahold of how good it felt to find this peace in myself and from there even the smallest things were making me happier and happier.
Below are a couple of excerpts from journal entries where you can see some of the highs (and inevitable lows) from the last four months.
The last thing I’ll say here is that I got what I needed out of my trip and it’s this: no, study abroad isn’t going to be a magical life-changing experience for every person. It wasn’t my cure or my answer to all my problems. But it started a small shift in perspective for me and that’s what is causing a huge one. I’m excited and I’m different and I’m changing and all I want to do is ramble about how good it feels to feel good. Come talk to me
[Excuse any cursing or poor grammar, these are my word-for-word entries that weren’t meant for people to read. Yay invasion of privacy! You’re in!!]
Feb 9th [day 5 in Prague]
“It’s lovely outside and I left early to walk to AAU [school] and I swear I had to bite my lip to keep from grinning because that’s so American and I gotta blend but I am still just in awe to be here I can’t believe how beautiful it is”
“Two weeks here and I have returned to my natural state of feeling like I’ve got a million and one things to do and no time to do them
I’m not complaining, really…at least the things I’m doing are big, adventurous journeys and plans now. I’m just trying not to overwhelm myself like I always do”
“Today I thought I was going to cry for the first time since I arrived here
[here I went on to worry about not making friends/travel anxiety/relationships]
“I’ve been having moments of anxiety about the food and carbs but I’m reminding myself that I’m strong and I can ride any storm and I have the ability to like myself and I’ll do just that”
“I’m sitting at a café with Cameron and it is sunny and beautiful outside and I just had really good coffee and I finished a 6 page paper due today in one sitting and my parents are coming to visit this Friday and Bon Iver is playing why is this Czech café playing my favorite songs thank you and I just need to capture this moment and how perfect it feels and how good life is I’m in Prague and I love myself”
“Life is a dream
I’m so very very very happy
Today, walking in the sun with my friends after such a good brunch and thoughts of our plans to go out tonight and my parents coming and plans for the weekend on my mind I found myself in that place of euphoria where everything just feels good and peaceful and okay.
And to think: I’m not tracking what I eat, I’m not going to the gym every day
This morning I caught my reflection in the mirror and I actually admired it
I’m experiencing things I honestly didn’t think were fathomable after so many years of the opposite”
April 3rd 2016
“Life is simultaneously amazing and shitty
[goes on to explain the situation that reached its peak terribleness during spring break: all semester I was breaking out in these hives that we never found the explanation for. It seemed like a kind of allergic reaction that would sometimes cause my face to blow up and towards the end of spring break that’s exactly what happened]
I’m so fucking frustrated. I love Europe and I’m so happy and I don’t understand why this has to keep happening now. But I’m trying to keep myself distracted. Honestly, today would be a really great day if it weren’t for this. I’ll be okay. I’ve been handling it better than I thought I would it’s just today it’s getting hard. But I’ll be okay”
“I’ve had more than one of those moments today where everything is just blissfully surreal and I feel like I’m in some kind of movie
The first was my usual walk to class along the water with the sun shining and flowers making the air smell sweet and good music in my headphones
The second was the walk back when it started raining and with blue skies and just as I was hoping a huge rainbow came across the water
The third was my jog up to Vysherad Fortress which I didn’t realize was super close/accessible and has an unreal view
The fourth is right now because I’m sitting on my window ledge the window is open and all the noise of the city are below my and the sun is almost down and I’m writing in a journal on a window ledge in fucking Europe and I feel like everything is just happening directly in the moment and nothing else and life is beautiful and yeah I know I’m full of a fuck ton of endorphins from running but really this just feels unreal I have to be dreaming”
“I walked home by the water just to see the lights and breathe the air (because it smells like Spring now) and think to myself once again that I’m so so happy”
“Hey its me again comin atcha from Charles University Botanical Gardens to ramble about whether or not my life is real or I’m dreaming/in a movie or something I’ve ranted about 1000 tiems in this journal so far. But sseerrriously
I’m in that place again where everything is just overwhelmingly wonderful and surreal and I don’t have any stress or worries because I am small in a world that is going to keep growing and moving and changing regardless of what I do so I might as well hang out in this garden right now and watch the breeze for a bit because I’m so lucky to be where I am”
“I don’t know how I am ever going to be able to capture the feeling I get walking across the finally not crowded Charles Bridge in the evening when the air is calm and sweet smelling and the moon is out like I did last night
I don’t even know how to capture how happy I feel right now sipping coffee in the courtyard at AAU with the sun on my back thinking about how I’m, comfortably wearing just a skirt and short sleeve top (high today is 73!!) and after this one class I’m going to get to just lay in the sun with friends and then maybe picnic tonight
I try to capture every little thing I love in my memory as best I can but it will never be the same looking back so I’ll just flop around and try to enjoy it now”
May 17th (4 days before leaving Prague)
“I think I’m more ready to go home than I’ll ever be, though. I don’t know, I want to hang around Prague and I want to go out and I want to explore. But I’m also tired and I miss my dog and Amherst and dinners with my family and I know I’ll be so homesick for Prague but I also know that home will be good and different than it was before and I’m ready”