Travel...

My first time away from home…

It’s still the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Walking through those departure gates after saying goodbye to my parents, knowing that my mum was tearing up at the site of me leaving and just trying to keep walking.

It was going to take me pretty much 24 hours to get there, with a stop over in Houston for a few hours.

That stop over was terrifying. Scared and sleep deprived I sat in George Bush airport and cried while strangers walked past and stared.

This was the beginning of my gap year adventure. Months of planning and working had got me to this point. Had earned me enough money to fly across the world to Argentina and away from home and anyone that I knew.

And now I was crying in an airport in the middle of America wishing I was on my way back home.

Where I was living...

Where I was living…

Needless to say things picked up a lot after that. I made it to Buenos Aires and somehow got to my student residence with my terrible Spanish and my tired brain.

I was staying on Plaza Del Congreso. There were noisy protests there everyday outside the beautiful political buildings. I stood on the balcony outside my room and watched them on the first few days I was there, before I got used to the noise.

I started my Spanish lessons and I made friends from all over the world, this was the gap year I had planned and it was wonderful.

A few weeks into my stay I was out at the local supermarket and somehow I got pick pocketed. I will never forget that feeling of horror as I reached round for my purse and found my bag wide open, everything gone.

Of course I had been warned. This is a country where people teach their children how to pick pocket as soon as they can walk. This is a place where there is poverty around every corner and, with my blond hair and pale skin, I stuck out as a rich and stupid tourist. Which I was to them on that day.

But apparently it wasn’t enough to teach me.

I dumped my basket filled with food I no longer had money to buy and ran home into the arms of my friends, who comforted and reassured me – ‘it’s more unlikely that you WON’T  get pick pocketed at some point while you’re here’.

The second time was pure stupidity and I won’t ever really believe that I was naive enough to do it. I went to the cinema with a friend and for a second time I was a perfectly ignorant tourist. I put my bag with my money and precious ipod, an 18th birthday present from my parents, down on the floor by my feet in the darkened cinema.

The end of the film came, I picked up my bag and checked my stuff, I couldn’t believe it. I cried over the ipod, over being so careless with a gift from my parents. Yet again my friends came to my rescue and made me feel better but I felt mortified.

baIt was from that day that I started to feel unsafe. It was little things like refusing to let go of my bag even for a second while I was out in public and not wanting to go out alone. Nothing really bad had happened, no one had hurt me but I felt extremely vulnerable.

I became much more aware of how obviously foreign I was. The culture in Argentina is very different to home and men murmuring sexual comments in Spanish to you as you walked past is something I would struggle to handle now, never mind when I was 18 and it was my first time away from home.

On the whole my experience of Argentina was very positive. It strengthened me as a person to know I was able to travel alone like that and made me grow up in a way that I really needed at that stage of my life. Feeling unsafe was a small part of it which in no way ruined the experience.

That feeling, however, has stayed with me in some ways. It’s made me much more wary about my possessions for one thing, 4 years later and I still feel horribly uncomfortable when I can’t check I still have all my things when I’m out in public. In a way, I suppose, that feeling helped keep me safe. When I first went I was under the naive assumption that nothing bad would ever happen to me and, of course, if the worst thing that did happen to me is that I got pick pocketed a few times then I can only feel extremely grateful. But those bad things made me aware that worse things could happen and made me take every precaution to make sure they didn’t.

That’s all for now

x

Written for a Daily Prompt about feeling unsafe.

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Uni Life...

What do you see…

As international students who’d travelled to America with just a suitcase, none of us had any essentials when we arrived in Albany last year. On our very first day there we headed off to Walmart to get everything we needed and, among many other things, we all bought the same full length mirror. 

After we each got our mirrors home and installed them in our rooms we began to notice something. All of the mirrors either lengthened and slimmed or shortened and widened your reflection just enough to be noticeable – think ‘House of Mirrors’ at a funfair

We discussed this occasionally and whenever we were in each others rooms we would comment on how different the reflection was to our own Walmart mirror.

My mirror was one that lengthened and slimmed and, after a while, I would forget that it was making me look longer and thinner than I really was. I liked what I saw and was only reminded that it wasn’t quite accurate when I looked in my roommate’s mirror, hers being the opposite to mine.

When I came back to England, coincidentally receiving comments about how much weight I’d lost while I’d been away (unintentionally, I might add, thanks to bad dining hall food), I looked happily at the reflection in my mirror in my bedroom and trusted that what it was showing me was real. For the whole summer I happily saw my reflection and felt good about myself.

Since moving back to Nottingham I’ve started to feel less confident about my body, I’ve started to make that wincing face when I see my reflection again. I’m not putting on any weight, I’m eating healthily, I couldn’t work out what was going wrong. That is until I went home this weekend and realised that the mirror in my bedroom at home is much more flattering than the one in Nottingham and as a direct result my self-esteem has taken a hit.

This has given me the disconcerting feeling that even what I thought I knew; that looking in a mirror will show me what I look like, might not be the case.

All I can think is how strange it is – that the slightest difference in a mirror, the smallest bend or curve that warps the reflection just a little can have this much of an impact. I keep thinking back to the more confident person I was over summer and wondering if there’s a way I can get back to that.

Maybe this is an opportunity to free myself from the scrutiny I give my body everyday.

What I need to do is adjust my way of thinking. So what that I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, who knows if it’s showing the real me anyway? As soon as I walk away I should assume I look great. We all should.

Of course, in an ideal world I wouldn’t be bothered about being ‘skinny’ at all, I’d be happy with the strengths of my personality and wouldn’t care what I looked like. But this isn’t an ideal world, I am the product of a society obsessed with image and that has placed my appearance as a factor which influences my happiness. Trust me, I’m working towards that ideal, but for now I’ll settle for being healthy, happy and trying to believe that the girl I saw in the mirror this summer is the girl that everyone else sees.

That’s all for now

x

Daily Prompt

 

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Top Fives..., Weekly Posts...

My top fives of this week…#5

I’m not even going to pretend like this is a weekly thing anymore. Although I am kind of disappointed in myself. I started this weekly post so that I’d have something to post about at least once a week along with whatever other nonsense I felt like writing about. But, as it turns out, my life hasn’t really felt interesting enough to write a post just about what I’ve been doing.

Does anyone really care that I’ve been spending most of my time working or that the rest of the time has been spent seeing my boyfriend or watching TV? No, I don’t think so.

That’s not to say I’m dissatisfied, I’m actually quite enjoying those three activities at the moment (yes, even the work!). For the first time in a while I feel what I guess I would call contentedness.

That is apart from this huge looming worry that is getting a good degree/graduating/finding a job/living the rest of my life. So I guess it’s contentedness with a time limit on it, but still I’m content nonetheless.

Despite this, I’m convinced I can muster up five cool things that have happened since I last did one of these…

1) I joined the Her Campus Blogger Network  – I started writing for the Nottingham Her Campus chapter this semester and now I’ve joined this network where loads of other bloggers get together and give each other advice etc. It’s really fun and helpful. If you want to take a look at the other blogs involved then follow the link to see them all!

2) My boyfriend’s sister had a baby – Does this even count as news about my life?! I’m not sure but I can’t help being excited because babies are cute.

3) I read The Poisonwood Bible and loved it – One of the things I love about doing literature courses is that they remind me how much I love reading. I realise this one’s been out a long time but if you haven’t read it then you should, it’s fantastic.

4) Saw some old friends – I caught up with one of the girls I lived with in second year who’s still in Nottingham a few weeks ago and then another one came to visit us last weekend. It was so nice to see both of them and rekindle old friendships. Even more are coming up next week…and we’re going to TGIs so things couldn’t get much better than that!

5) I published my 50th post on this blog! – Yesterday saw my 50th post here on My Top Fives. I’d say at least 40 of those were Top Fives which is pretty cool. Somehow I’ve managed to think of that many things to write lists about! So, here’s to the next 50…hopefully.

What do you guys think about my theory that being content is making it harder to blog? Do you agree? Or maybe being happy means that the words flow more easily for you?

That’s all for now

x

 

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Family & Home..., My Year Abroad...

My top five tips for having a long distance relationship…

I’ve been in a long distance relationship for nearly a year now (although we weren’t technically, and by this I mean Facebook, official until December). So maybe I’m not quite an expert in the field yet but I feel like I’ve learned a few things.

1) The absence of the label means nothing

So we started off as ‘seeing how it goes’ and ‘we’ll wait ’til I get back’. Realistically, if you’re going to talk everyday, not see other people and make plans for the future then you may as well admit that you are a couple despite the distance.

All not having the official title does is make for awkward conversations where you don’t really know what to refer to each other as and neither of you really know where you stand. If you want to be together, just do it, you can figure out the rest later.

2) Try not to go completely insane

This is a tricky one.

By the time I’d spent a few months living 3000 miles away from my boyfriend I was definitely beginning to question my sanity. Apart from missing him a lot I also found myself just getting pretty pissed off with him somewhat irrationally.

I’ve subsequently found out from talking with other people that this is pretty normal, still, try and avoid it if you can. Remember that it’s hard for them too and just take a few deep breaths or something…I don’t know, I pretty much did go insane last year so I’m not sure I’m qualified to help with this one.

3) Plan the time of distance when one of you isn’t going to be going through a particularly stressful period

I moved away when my boyfriend went into his final year at uni. This meant a lot of pressure, regular deadlines and  a 10,000 word dissertation to write. I like to think I was as supportive as possible but it’s a lot harder to do that from 3000 miles away than from the same city, or at least the same country when you can actually pick up the phone and call each other.

I think that we’re a bit more prepared for it this year, now that it’s me dealing with all that pressure, but in an ideal situation we’d be able to see each other more often than a weekend here and there! Obviously a long distance couple may not have much control over when the distance is taking place so when dealing with added pressures refer back to tip #2.

4) TRUST EACHOTHER

If you don’t trust the other person and you’re living far away from each other then you will drive yourself insane. Either sort yourself out and work out why you don’t trust them or break up, it’s never going to work and it’ll be torture. Actually that’s kind of true of all relationships.

5) Try and look at the positives


Yeah yeah so it’s really hard and miserable and you’d do anything to see them sometimes BUT there are actually some good things about have a long distance relationship.

All that missing each other means that when you do finally see them it’s super great and way more exciting than if you just saw them everyday. Despite being together for nearly a year I don’t feel like we’ve really left the really embarrassing sappy stage of the relationship…which I suppose is a little unfortunate for those around us. Not only that but, as cheesy as it sounds, if you can get through this, you can get through anything.

Urgh I’m cringing so hard at myself right now but this is what love does to you…apparently.

That’s all for now

x

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Top Fives..., Uni Life...

My top five reasons you should look forward to graduating…

Hey guys!

Just a quick one today to tell you that I’ve written a top fives for the Nottingham University chapter of Her Campus all about graduating.

You can find it here so give it a read!

Proper post coming in a few days…

That’s all for now

x

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