Should I Stay or Should I Go? // Election from Abroad

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Twenty-One: London Style

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Just one of the three cases of cupcake options at Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden!

As a lot of y’all know, yesterday was my 21st birthday! It was not nearly as exciting or over-the-top here in London as I imagined. I guess it’s because it’s not as big a deal here, since the drinking age is 18.

I want to go ahead and say thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday, and made the day fantastic. Thanks especially to my friends who I got a chance to FaceTime with (y’all have no idea how much that made my day)…mom, dad, Jackson, Jordan, Meme, Cate, and Erin. It was so great to talk to the people who I miss so much.

My day started out like any other: I got up, got dressed, grabbed breakfast, went to class, and went through my new London routine. We talked about Twelfth Night in class, and it got really feminist and I just loved it. Then, Sarah and I went to Primrose Bakery to get some cupcakes, thanks mom!

Sarah had dinner with a lifelong friend, so I went back to my dorm to take a quick nap before I went to dinner. I got to FaceTime a bunch of the aforementioned people, and popped a bottle of champagne to enjoy with my cupcakes to celebrate my turning 21. It was nice to get to catch up with my hometown friends while celebrating.

I’m not going to play innocent here, the drinking age in most of Europe is 18, so going out to a bar and ordering myself a drink on my 21st birthday wasn’t my first time doing so. (I’m still excited for my “first legal drink” in the United States when I get home in December.)

I grabbed a drink with a few friends before they left, then waited for Sarah to meet me (she was going to meet all of us for drinks, but everyone else decided to cut the night short early I guess). It was a little weird just sitting there in the bar by myself, but I guess that’s what being 21 and adulthood are all about, right? Getting outside your comfort zone and being confident and going places by yourself?

What struck me the most was how different this birthday was from any other birthday I’ve had as an “adult”. When I turned 18, I took the SAT, went to rehearsal for the school musical until 7PM, went home and went to bed. When I turned 19, I was just a baby college freshman with only a few friends. We weren’t close enough for them to throw me a party or anything, so my mom and my brother came up and took me to get dinner. When I turned 20, I almost pulled an all-nighter the night before to study for my history midterm. I went to my classes, took a nap, spent a few hours in the library, and went to dinner with my friends. We celebrated with cake and a movie night the following weekend.

This year, I didn’t feel the same love surrounding me that I had the past three years – that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m in a foreign country pretty much by myself, and my favorite people are over 4,000 miles away. Getting to FaceTime with some of those people was helpful, but it was nothing like having my roommate/best friend wake me up at 5AM by jumping on my bed to my favorite Rhianna song.

dsc_0012I understand the validity of my feelings and that I’m allowed to miss people when they’re an ocean away, but I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea: I LOVE LONDON. I am loving my study abroad experience and everything it has brought into my life, but it’s tough. It is teaching me so much about myself. There are just a lot of emotions that you encounter when you study abroad that I don’t think anyone prepares you for — especially when you do a program where you don’t know anyone at all. 

I really did have an amazing birthday – champagne and cupcakes and getting to FaceTime some of my favorite people was really all I could’ve asked for (other than them all being here but for some reason, I don’t think that would’ve worked out so well). Going out when I didn’t really have a group of people to go with or solid plans made it feel a little more awkward than I intended.

I am so thankful for every single person who made me feel loved yesterday — y’all are the reason I’m having the time of my life over here in Londontown. Without your support, I don’t know where I would be.

Cheers to 21 years!


lydia.

In this city, in this city…

(Stick with me, y’all. It starts a little weird and gets into my emotions, but the explanation comes at the end. Thanks in advance for reading.)

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My friend Sarah & I saw this on our walk to the Tower of London. It’s something I thought described a bit of where I am in life & my study abroad experience.

Last week had been a tough one for me. It wasn’t because it was the second week of classes, it wasn’t the fact that I’m 4,154 miles from my hometown (and 4,046 miles from my school), it wasn’t anything you would guess. Honestly, I don’t know if I even know what it was. I don’t know if I’m just having a hard time adjusting to life here in the city (s/o to all you small town kiddos studying abroad…I feel you), or if I’m having issues in my program, or what it is. So far, it’s just seemed like it was one of those weeks where you get in a funk and you can’t really get out of it.

Thankfully, this week has started out on a great foot, and I’m sure I’ll be feeling better within the next few days. At the end of my program, I want to look back on this past week as an adjustment time, and have grown from it. So, the best way I know to explore my feelings is to write about them (as if we haven’t already figured that out).

As much as I have come to love it over the past few weeks, life in a big city is hard. It’s not at all like what I expected (other than being able to walk literally everywhere), and it’s definitely more overwhelming. Coming from a town of about 35,000 people, moving to this city of 8.67 million people pretty much on my own is without a doubt one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.

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The first week, we went to Buckingham Palace to visit. I feel like it suits me nicely.

At home, my bubble is incredibly small. My best friend since kindergarten lives three houses down from me. I can’t go to the grocery store on a “quick errand” because I’ll run into somebody that I know (whether that be someone I grew up with, their parents, teachers, friends of my family, or literally the guy who changes the oil in my car – that happened once), and I’ll be sucked into a twenty minute conversation with them.

Here in London, it’s an entirely different story. I am completely invisible. There is no one I am going to run into when I go to the grocery store, and my best friend isn’t a two minute walk away. I’ve made a few friends in my program, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that we’re not as close as I want to be. I sometimes feel like I’m on the outside when it comes to them. But that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

It’s probably really good for me to have stepped out of my comfort zone like this. The last time I did something like this, I went to college 132.5 miles away. It took some time to adjust, but this time last year, I was probably at the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. On Sunday, I wanted desperately to feel that happy again. But now I’ve realized that it’s not going to happen like that. I was so happy this time last year because I was completely in my comfort zone. I was at Wofford, surrounded by my best friends, taking amazing classes, and thriving in a place I felt loved and supported.

Now that I’m outside of that comfort zone, I’ve realized that there are positives and negatives to being uncomfortable. I am in a new city where I am pretty much invisible. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. I have the chance to be completely myself, and see who wants to be my friend (*cue “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent to blast behind this paragraph). But at the same time, being invisible can be annoying. You don’t have anyone to support you on those bad days. (That’s when I begin to reach out to that comfort zone that’s 4,000 miles away and FaceTime the hooligans I like to call my friends.)

The other day, I was in a bookstore looking for a book that I need for class, when all of a sudden, this song got stuck in my head. When I was walking back to my bus stop, I decided to listen to it, hoping to get it out of my head. While that didn’t happen, I did pay attention to the lyrics and found this:

“I’ve got something to prove, nothing to lose/in this city, in this city.”

“I never wanna wait for this/harder than that I was made for this/I won’t fade into darkness/I’m not gonna say I’m sorry/gonna see the end of this story/I won’t fade into darkness.”

“Airplanes” by 5 Seconds of Summer

Those lyrics really struck me as something I needed to hear. I’ve been waiting my entire life to get the chance to come here and study in London. Why should I let some negative feelings and people I feel are excluding me ruin my chance to have the best experience I could possibly have? That’s ridiculous.

I need to do what my grandmother told me to do before I left: don’t just find opportunities, also make them for yourself. 

This is going to be the best semester yet. I can’t wait.

TLDR: London has been wonderful and I love it so much. There have been ups and downs, but that comes with every new experience in life. I want to embrace it and have the time of my life while I’m here.


lydia.

Not to Be Creepy…

One thing I find myself doing far too often is “creeping”. I love looking at people’s pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, what have you. I feel like I do it really often, almost to the point of living vicariously through other people’s adventures.

I find myself doing this with other people too. YouTubers who are in cute relationships, an adorable Instagram adventurer, a friend of a friend who is studying abroad. It’s not that I want to live their lives, but more that I feel like I’m not doing much with mine.

Which isn’t exactly true. I go to school out of my home state, I’ve made friends from all over the country, I’ve explored my new city, found places I feel at home. But that doesn’t cure this need for exploration. So, I find myself creeping on other people’s explorations.

I’ve done this a lot over the years, from Facebook-stalking my high school crush, to finding out what other movies that actor has been in. I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert at finding out things via social media.

But I feel like there is a point where interest ends and longing begins. I do long for some kind of adventure, some kind of change, something magnificent to happen to me. Do I need to go out and get it, or am I content with living quietly behind a computer screen?

Over the past few weeks, one of my friends and I have become somewhat obsessed with this adorable couple on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Of course, I am more obsessed than she is, but nonetheless, we both think they’re absolutely adorable and that their relationship seems to be making them both happy.

It was over the past week that I realized where my problem lies. It is with a dissatisfaction in what I’m doing with my life. I don’t find myself happy spending the weekends locked in my dorm room, or in the library, studying so I can stay at this college that I love so much. This school makes me so happy, but if my grades don’t improve soon, I won’t be able to come back next year.

I’m not happy with how much work I have to put in to remain at a place that makes me happy. Is that messed up? Am I messed up? I don’t know. But I do know that trying to find what I want, and trying to find my happiness isn’t going to be through other people’s adventures.

I’ll have time for my adventures. It will come someday. But for now, I need to figure out what everyone I “creep” on did to increase their happiness. I need to figure out what it is that is going to make me happy.

I’m done living behind a computer screen. I want to keep “creeping” on people, to see their lives and see their happiness. I want to be happy for them, and admire what they’re doing. But I can’t find my personal happiness in their lives anymore.

I don’t know what it is that makes it so hard for me to just get off my butt and get stuff done, but I need to do it. I need to work hard so I can stay at this college. I need to explore what I can right now. If that’s the internet, if that’s the coffee shop, if that’s whatever life is throwing at my right now, I need to explore it.

Because someday, I want to have adventures and pictures worth creeping on.

Brightness

There are lots of things that bring brightness in my life…and as I mentioned the other day, I’m going home for Spring Break soon. I’m not going to the beach, but I am going to get to go home. And, like I said, there is a lot of brightness waiting for me at home, and I can’t wait for all these things in just one short week…

  • My best friend will be on spring break as well, so we’ll be home together! Both of our schools have fairly late spring breaks, but ours managed to align! We’ll get to hang out and spend the week pretending we’re in high school again (except for having to go to all of those annoying classes).
  • I’ll get to see my family. Most of my family, at least. My high school actually has spring break on the same week that I do, so it might just be me and my mom hanging out for the first half of the week (while my dad and brother are at the beach), then my dad and I the second half (while my mom and brother are at the beach).
  • I won’t have any homework for a week. It’s an entire week off from school, stress, and worry. Which means that…
  • I’ll actually get some sleep for once. Or, at least, a decent amount of sleep needed for a nineteen year old.
  • College friends are coming to visit. My friend group isn’t really doing anything over spring break, so one of my friends is coming to visit myself and two others (who live near each other), and we’re gonna take her to all the cool places in our small town, and in the major city nearby.
  • I’ll get to be home. It’s true what they say “there’s no place like home.” And I can’t wait to be back in that crazy little town, full of personality, rough around the edges, and beautiful in every single way. It’s gonna be good to be home.

I’m so excited for the brightness coming soon. Maybe it’ll get me out of this blue week.


lydia.

Cleaning

Basically there is a lot of cleaning that I need to get done in my life.

My dorm room is a wreck, my agenda is full of chicken scratch assignments, my bed hasn’t been made in week, I have a dozen things open on my desktop, and everything is just in a state of disorganization that is becoming overwhelming. And I don’t know how to rectify this situation.

It bothers me, and this pile of clothes that prevents me from opening the door to my room is growing. Just like my anxiety.

But instead of complaining about all the things that I have to deal with and clean up, I feel like crawling back into my bed and pulling the covers over my head until it feels like the night and all I can hear are my thoughts. Of course, I never want to hear my thoughts. It’s weird stuff, ladies and gents.

But I think after spending the past three days wallowing in what I call “blue time” (for days when my depression takes over and I really just want to sleep and eat, and sometimes I do that – which is not good when you have homework), I’ve realized that I need to put on my big girl pants – actually, big girl shorts, it’s been in the 70’s lately – and clean it all up.

Spring Break is right around the corner. While I may not be going to the beach, I’ll get to go home. I have a lot of brightness waiting for me at home. Lots and lots of brightness that I just can’t wait to experience and see and enjoy.

Now, I don’t want to return from spring break and find that this room, this agenda, this life is still as untidy as the way it is now?

Nope.

I want it clean, and tidy, and much more attune to what I want out of it.

I guess it’s time to get to work.


 

lydia. 

Changes

I sat down elevent minutes ago and wrote an entirely different post. Then I realized that those words aren’t the words that I need to say today. Those words have their time, and they have their place, but it’s not today.

Today is for change.

I have been really busy this semester, more than I ever thought I would be, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting it all done.

But one thing I realized in these past few weeks is that I have neglected Thinking in Fragments. This was supposed to be a journal, a honest place where I could remember exactly how I felt at almost any given moment.

Somehow, I found myself pinning stuff to a secret blogging board about SEO and how to have great content posts. That isn’t what I want. I want a blog where I can put my true feelings out there, where I can just let some stuff live and grow. Maybe post some of my writing, start to build a portfolio for whenever I figure out what I want to do. Maybe then I could tell people I have a blog and I wouldn’t feel my face get hot as soon as the words leave my mouth.

This blog moved from being my true feelings to something fake. Not that bloggers who blog for a living are fake or anything. I think that what they are doing is fantastic, and I wish I had the dedication, time, and heart to do that.

I want Thinking in Fragments to be something where I can just put my soul into words and figure out how I like those words to sound together, and move them around until I find the way that flows the most honestly and beautifully to me.

My entire life, I’ve said that honestly is truly one of the most important things to me. If you’re honest with me, then we can eventually work out any troubles that may come between us. And I feel like I haven’t been very honest on this blog. I want to be completely honest and myself and use Thinking in Fragments to help me figure out what else is important to me.

And I want to figure out what those “fragments” in the title are. I want to figure them out and help them find the rest of the words they need to become the complete sentence that they have the potential to become. Because I want to become my own complete sentence. And honestly, this is the only way I can think of to do that.

I’m tired of trying to put on this front. I want honesty and truth, and I want to be able to figure it out myself. So there are probably going to be some changes coming to Thinking in Fragments. I hope you’ll stick around to help me see what they are. If this isn’t your groove, that’s completely fine. I just want to learn how to be there for myself, and I hope that by piecing together the fragments, I will be able to.

lydia.