Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Coma, Comma, and The Plan

I have tried to write this countless times. I have tried in journals, I have explained it verbally, and I've now written and deleted it at least four times. I want to give you all a small amount of background of what was going on in my life when I left for Sweden. But that story isn't just mine. So I will give you this: my abridged side.

When I left for Sweden I didn't realize it but my life was about to slap me straight in the face. I was struggling with a long distance relationship with a boyfriend who was stationed in Iraq. I was embarking on what would be an adventure that never really stopped. A lot was happening that I am still processing. So forgive me if this is a clusterfuck of an explanation.

Wow.. I really don't know how to continue. What I want to explain to you all is that when I left for Sweden I was in the middle of a relationship. That it was long distance and that my boyfriend wasn't at some other university. He was in Iraq. I also want to say that I wasn't in a great place and that I was just starting to come out of some sort of life coma. And I don't mean comma although that would work equally well because a comma is used to show separation or pause (and many other reasons that don't go with my analogy here). So I was coming out of a life coma that I had been in for........what seemed like a long time (but I was only 20 so use your discretion on what could be a long time for a 20 year old).

I had put my mind on auto-pilot and was living by the obscene rules that I thought crafted a good life. I was following the plan. You all know now how well plans seem to work for me so you can understand why my mind protested and checked out. Plans don't work for me. Ever. And for the best. But I wanted it to work, desperately, and so I let go of so many things in order to follow the plan. And it blew up in my face.

I went to Sweden thinking (more or less) the following: This is the perfect opportunity! I have the chance to do everything I wanted to do while not ruining the plan. I am going to Sweden to do the study abroad that I always wanted and pass the time as best as possible until my boyfriend comes home. I'm going to have some fun, experience something cool, my boyfriend will come while he's on leave and we can have an awesome European adventure together. Then in just a few months after that we can meet again at home and be together forever.

No problem.

No one fucking told me that study abroad changes everything. Granted I don't think that most people's lives change as much as mine did after study abroad but shit... How I managed to convince myself that life would work out like it seems to for everyone else is a feat that my mind hasn't topped yet.

And all of the sudden there I was in the middle of Växjö Universtitet trying to find the Study Abroad Office. About to get slapped in the face by my own life. Ready?

P.S. Vote in the poll over here... this page has a good number of views yet only 4 people have voted so...come on now be a good sport and play along...        ------------------------------>

Saturday, June 8, 2013

On my way--FINALLY

If you read "On my way" and started singing the Ben Kweller song--you are THE coolest, why? Because I was singing it as I wrote it. So if I did it, and you did it, then that makes us cool shit.

So I sincerely apologize (I always spell that with two 'p's--anyone else?) for not posting on the designated Wednesday-Post-Day. It has been a very busy week for us! We finally sent in what I think is the last of our paperwork!!! HOORRAAAHHHH Now, for those of you who know us, you know that this is a major miracle. For those of you that don't--we're going through the immigration process for the husband to move to the US. That aside I have also had a mountain of work so thus the delay of the blog post. Apology accepted??

Second thing on the notification list: If you didn't notice because you are blind, or oblivious like me, there is a poll over here on the right side of the page---------------------------------------------------->
I would LOVE to know if you guys want to continue getting the story unabridged or if you'd like the story along with some current anecdotes about my life now in Barcelona etc. So VOTE please! I don't want to continue blabbering on here if no one wants to read it, so vote and get what you want (totally opposite of any other vote you make! Too political?? Yeah..scratch that). Oh, I think if you are on a mobile device you won't see the poll..not sure..let me know.

Alright enough of the logistical bull. On to the story:

While we were driving home I was secretly a bit excited to have another chance to eat Culver's before I left. And another night's sleep in my bed. I have the most incredible bed EVER. Like...Sleeping Beauty would never have woken up if she had been sleeping in my bed. this is getting a bit dirty and far, far, away from the story at hand. (If you don't know what Culver's is...Shame on you. And look it up.)

I don't remember my dad really speaking the entire way home from the airport. I couldn't quite tell if he was absolutely furious at my mistake or furious that it actually worked out. Regardless, I didn't push him. I went to bed early. I have no recollection of what I did the next morning before my flights--except constantly check my flight times.

It was finally time to go and I arrived ON TIME to the airport and was swiftly on my way. No security check problems, no baggage weight issues, nothing. I was on my way. To Sweden. Which by the way, no matter how many times I write it I always have to remind myself , is only spelled (or spelt) with ONE 'e' not 'Sweeden'.

Now, all was going well, I managed to get wine with my meal on the long flight from Chicago to Copenhagen (score!)(I was only 20) and was extremely relaxed. The flight went well and I was landing in Copenhagen, Denmark before I knew it. I had done enough research to know that I could take a train from the airport to Växjö, Sweden. But that was it. I knew it was possible. I had NO idea how and for some unknown reason this did not bother me one tiny-itty-bitty-little bit. 

I had flown to Spain once when I was 16, completely on my own. I had managed that without a problem and I think this gave me some undeserved confidence. I thought "Oh yeah, no problem, I'll just figure it out as I go. I can handle anything."

So here is when I should explain that my consciousness has two parts. One part like my mother and one part like my father. My mother is an artist, a free spirit. She is compulsive in great ways and she can make magic out of a ridiculously boring situation. Which has it's downsides too because compulsive doesn't always work out. And then I have the "dad" part. My dad is analytical, realistic, and calculating (in the good way not the bad way). He plans, he prepares, and he does ALL the research which tends to be less fun for him but better for the rest of us that he plans things for.

I think at this point my mom's side was winning in my brain. It saw the opportunity for adventure and clung to it with extreme force. So I didn't plan, I didn't prepare, and I definitely did not do enough research but apparently I didn't care because I wasn't worried about a single thing. 

I exited the airplane, got my passport stamped (YEAH!), and collected my luggage. And then I just...looked around. I had been flying for approximately 10 hours (wait times and changeovers not included) and I was in a cloud of excited exhaustion. It is really difficult to explain how I was feeling because I was completely dazed. It's all a bit fuzzy and I'm not exactly sure how I actually made it to the university. Sure I know that I eventually found the ticketing area for the trains and managed to get my ticket to Växjö. And I also know that I met a girl, from Michigan, who was also going to Växjö. This meeting only further confirmed my, "It's all going to work out perfectly! No problem!" mindset because really, who meets someone thousands of miles from home who happens to be headed to the same country, po-dunk city, and university as you? No one except me, and her. We then joined forces and tried to figure out which of the 10 platforms was where we needed to be.. finally after asking people with limited English skills we selected one. And when the time came, we boarded the train.

After sitting on the train for about 30 minutes a ticketing guy came around to check our tickets. He looks at the tickets, looks at us, and says "somethinginswedishthatwedidn'tunderstand," and I replied, "I'm you speak any English?" And felt like a total nuisance and you should never do- you should always know how to say "do you speak English" in the language of the country you are's just basic manners (which I hadn't learned yet). He then explained, in flawless English I might add, that we were on the wrong train. Excellent. Just what I wanted! Now we'll have to get off the train and find the right one, what a cool adventure! I was such an idiot...I was literally thinking that way. But I suppose in the end that mentality kept me from freaking out and allowed me to enjoy the extra hours of travel that it added, forget about the fact that I hadn't eaten a normal meal in over 24 hours, and that I was stuck dragging around a 2 giant suitcases and a backpack.

We managed to get on the right train and finally arrived to Växjö. I was so surprised that it looked a lot like Wisconsin and the northern US. Beautiful trees, lots of green spaces of grass and gardens, a quaint little town, nothing too different from what I was used to. Anywayyyyy (because who wants to read about gardens and grass? well..not me so let's move on). We decided to fork out for a taxi because we had so much luggage and our brains were not capable of navigating the bus lines. 

The driver dropped us off in the center of the university, we paid, and he left. We looked around at what would be our home for the next 6 months and realized it looked a lot like a small campus in Wisconsin or Michigan. But we did not balk, we did not sulk, we just grabbed our insane amount of luggage and tried to pull the wheel-y bags over cobblestone to find the Study Abroad Office. Right- cobblestone+wheel-y bags= a lot of noise and work and stares from the locals. Hello glam entrance! If our clothes, American English, and general demeanor didn't tell the entire campus that America had arrived, our luggage sure as hell did. 

And this is what our luggage entrance said:
"Heeyyyy---clickety clack clickety clack--- Do you speak English? --- clickety clickety clack clack CLACK-- HEYYY I'M AMERICAN!!!!--- CLICKETY CLICKETY CLACK----AND I HAVE FAR MORE LUGGAGE THAT IS REASONABLE FOR 99.9% OF THE WORLD!-- CLICKETY CLACK CLACK CLICKETY......." "Oh-- CLICKETY CLICKETY--- I'm also lost----CLACK CLICKETY---WOOHOOOO SWEDENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN---PHOTO OPP!" 

Pretty much.