Sunday, January 4, 2015

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: 2014 in review

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 8 AM in a single bed in a condo in Florida. As I write this, I am in a single bed, but in my dormitory in England. In between these two spaces, a new year has risen, or so says the calendar. At however many feet over the Atlantic, when it was midnight in America and past midnight in England, everything was transient and surreal.

That's sort of how I feel about 2014 in general: transient and surreal. In the span of 2014, I have lived in three places: Bowling Green, Avon Lake, and Keele, England. Each of these places I have called home, each place I have left and will leave and my life will continue this way until I graduate in 2016 (minus England), bouncing back and forth between two places that have contributed to me growing up. This year, I have learned to appreciate the surreal and transient nature of travel. One morning, I was in England. By the evening, I was in Tampa, Florida. Throughout all the travel of the past year - from NYC to Florida to Indianapolis to England - it has struck me nearly every single time that I am one fortunate individual to see so much of the world.

Spent the day with family; Tiffin, OH | Aug 2014
Me, Shanna and Rachel in Times Square | Jan 2014
Poolside view, Orlando, FL | Mar 2014
Parade the Circle; Cleveland, OH | Jun 2014
Me, Shanna & Rachel at the Children's Museum; Indianapolis, IN | Aug 2014
I think travel is a great privilege. Even within Ohio - and Cleveland itself - there is so much to see. From the rural plains to the Cleveland metropolis, there is much to do, much to see. This year, I learned to appreciate where I came from, and more importantly, who I came from. I became closer with my family, spending many Monday nights with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece eating dinner, drinking tea and sharing many, many stories (and laughs). I understood homesickness in a completely different way. When I'm at BGSU, my mom is literally a phone call away - when I miss her or my dad or my brothers or my dog, I can call her and ask if I can come home, or if she can come see me. But here, in England, I am so far from my family that many days pass when I don't even get to call my mom, due to the time difference or clashing schedules. Though I miss my family every day (every minute of every day), I know they are with me and that it is only with their love and support that I am even able to be abroad at all.

My little home; Keele, England | Oct 2014
Travel has taught me a lot (as it teaches any person who encounters a lot of travel). This blog isn't one that is going to tell its three readers that leaving home is the only way you can learn things about yourself. You can learn about yourself from anywhere. I have been studying abroad for months, now, and don't feel like I've learned anything about myself that I didn't already know. Like, I hate when people hang out without me, but I also love my time alone. I'm tricky and complex like that. Also, that I can only really rely on myself in most situations and always have a plan. It's hard for me to make friends, nearly impossible to garner the courage to talk to someone first, and I love to make people laugh. I put a lot of pressure on myself academically and will procrastinate as long as possible.

I think that studying abroad has forced me to be aware of these things inside myself, but I think that I knew these things in Ohio and have been forced and will continue to be forced to recognize both my flaws and my strengths.

Galway, Ireland | Oct 2014
But a lot of this year taught me about people, and how they live and act and how these people see me. A lot of my friendships changed over the course of the year. Some grew stronger, some were brand new, some ended, some grew distant. I don't think I've ever had a friend I regretted knowing, and I wish I were more patient with my friends and less sensitive about little things. I've grown up so much this year, I think, especially in terms of my patience and impatience, but I still have a ways to go. I wish I weren't jealous and needy and distant and sensitive and sarcastic sometimes but I understand now that friends can and will love you through your moods. Or they should. (And more often than not, they do.)

Candid Mags girls reunited; London, England | Nov 2014
Just a few of my friends abroad; Keele, England | Nov 2014
This was a year of family, friends, travel, learning, and books. This year, I read 70 books, which to me seems like not a lot but it is quite a lot of books and I am looking forward to all the new things I will read in this year. My goal is 100 in 2015 and it feels feasible. I hope that this year bodes well for me, for reading and writing and all the rest.

Sunset; Longboat Key, FL | Dec 2014
All my best and all my love in 2015.

2 comments:

  1. This is lovely and wonderful and I miss you. SEVENTY BOOKS WHOA THAT IS A LOT TO ME. I am trying to read and write more this year so give me any recs whenever. xx Love you.

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  2. there's a really cool girl in some of these pics ... i think her name might be ... Shanna???!! introduce us WILL YA

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