Taking the Plunge

A couple weeks ago my family went up to a cabin in Northern Minnesota for the weekend with my cousins. The cabin was right on a lake, so one afternoon, we decided to take a pontoon tour of the lake and then go swimming a little ways out (as opposed to the weedy area near the dock). I was pumped. I love swimming, and I was excited for a nice relaxing boat ride too.

When the tour was done, it was time to swim. I smiled as I buckled up my life-jacket (my cousin convinced us all it would be more fun to swim with them) and watched my brothers and cousins jumping off the back of the boat. My smile faded a little; was I going to do that? Pretty soon, everyone was in the water except me. But I couldn’t jump. Something as easy and as simple and as non-threatening as jumping off the boat–plunging into the water–and I couldn’t do it. I made a fuss for about 10 minutes (in standard dramatic fashion, of course :) ), and then I finally made myself do it. I jumped. And guess what? It was no big deal, of course. I had a blast swimming, of course. They practically had to pull me out of the water when it was time to go. 

 

That’s how I feel about traveling and even change so often. When it’s distant, when we’re just cruising ahead on calm water, it seems fine, exciting. As it gets closer, anticipation builds. Yet when the time finally comes, when it’s time to finally buckle up the life jacket and jump in, I freeze. I start to think, “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” Apprehension builds and fear kicks in. 

But as soon as I’m in the water, as soon as I get past the initial dive, I find out it’s not so bad after all, the water’s fine. But that still doesn’t diminish the fear the next time I have to jump.

 

Sometimes we have to do the thing we fear the most… Because that may be the thing that stretches us the most–the thing that causes us to grow and to push ourselves further than we ever have before. The thing that causes us to learn and to become better. 

People keep telling me how brave I am to travel and to study abroad. I don’t feel brave. In fact, I feel a little scared. But maybe, it’s taking that first step that counts, even if it means going out in fear….Because God only knows the adventures, experiences, and memories that lie ahead. 

The Next Adventure

Now that I’ve had a couple weeks to catch my breath after returning from my amazing 5-week internship in Ukraine, it’s just about time to head off again on a new adventure…this time in Bangor, Wales!

That’s right, on Sunday I will once again be boarding a plane to take me across the ocean. This coming fall semester I will be studying abroad in one of the most beautiful countries in the world (or so I’m constantly told).

Welcome to Wales where there are castles everywhere

Welcome to Wales where there are castles everywhere

Bangor is a lovely rural city located on the northern coast of Wales. It is classified as one of Britain’s smallest cities with a population of around 14,000 (not including the 10,000 students that attend Bangor University)–though that seems fairly big to this small-town girl.

bangoru

Can we talk about how amazing the library is (left pic)?? This nerd is excited to spend some serious time studying there!
{Bangor U pics from bangor.ac.uk}

For the fall semester, I will be attending Bangor University, where I’ll be taking an Intro to Wales class and Outdoor Pursuits (we’ll talk about this later when I get over my absolute TERROR) with the group from Central College Abroad, as well as some literature courses at the university with other students from the UK! I’ll also be living in university housing–just another way to get out of my ‘American bubble’! I’m super excited to just immerse myself in another culture and to really get to know Bangor and the students who study there.

 

BUT…as this is my last week at home, there’s definitely tons to do…

  • Thankfully, I’m just about finished with deep cleaning (err…semi-deep cleaning) my room… Those of you who know me (or at least know my reputation for my messy room), know this has been no small task. Many days, hours, and 2 audio books have been put into this task!
  • So now comes the fun: packing. This meme basically sums up how I feel about life right now:sapack

How exactly is one supposed to pack for 4 months, and basically three different seasons? This is the challenge I will be exploring today…

  • An even greater challenge, however, is learning to cook. There is no meal plan for the semester. I can’t cook. Like, at all. I can bake with the best of them–I’ll whip up a batch of cookies, any kind of pie, and a chocolate cake that will make you cry because it’s so delicious…but when it comes to *real* food, I’m clueless. Absolutely clueless. Sooo….this will be an interesting semester. I might starve. Or I might be eating chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for every meal. Anyway, these next few days might be cram-cooking-lessons.
  • Still to be done is my prep-research…because why wouldn’t I procrastinate about homework that’s not even really homework? #mylife
  • Also, I need to prep my mind for another loooooong international flight. Because, let me tell you, that’s the one thing I’m dreading. I’m so pumped to get to Wales, but not ready for another long flight. All the people that tell you they are fun are LYING! I was super excited when I boarded my NINE AND A HALF HOUR flight on the way to Ukraine… Sure, the first couple hours are great: MOVIES! MUSIC! GAMES! FOOD, so much food!!…but then the 5-hours-left mark hits, and it’s death. Thankfully though, this flight will be shorter than my flight to Ukraine. :)
  • Last thing to do: prep my mind for the fact that I am actually, truly, finally STUDYING ABROAD!! This has been an (almost) life-long dream of mine, and I can’t believe it’s really happening! I want to make the most of every moment and experience…I want to see things I’ve never seen before, try things I’ve never tried before (Outdoor Pursuits + weird foods will take care of that), and make lots and lots of memories.

So, here we go! The countdown begins. Wales, I’ll see you soon!