Five Years?!

July 11, 2011.

I can’t remember what I was doing that day – but according to WordPress, I posted an ‘about me’ on this page. AKA I started “ceaseless serendipity” (first known as ‘Girl Meets World’), five whole years ago!

Wow… what was I doing five years ago? So much has happened. Five years ago, I was in high school. I was having a… rough patch. High school wasn’t easy, and to be honest, I was mostly doing things on my own. I still consider myself to be fairly independent, but now I have the most amazing friends, and I’m graduating from college in a few months. 2016 must have seemed so far away. Who would’ve thought I would be here now, right?

As an education major, I feel like I am obligated to do a then vs. now Venn Diagram. So here it is: What my life was like five years ago (the then) and today (the now).

venn-diagram

#comicsans

Two and a half years ago (a half-way marker), I was enjoying college and life in general: I was just beginning a summer internship at an orphanage in China, enjoying life, and about to begin my sophomore year in college – my personal favorite year, in my opinion. Now, I am thankful to be able to still enjoy the same college with many of the same friends I made freshman year. A lot has changed, but some things remain the same!

In my Venn Diagram, I forgot to include epilepsy (my seizures) – but I’ll leave that for another time. However, I’ll try to get a post in before the end of the month – November is epilepsy awareness month! woot woot! Another honorable mention: I’m teaching, for real! No, I don’t have my own classroom, but I am in schools, teaching kindergarteners. Now THAT is awesome! Also I’m still incredibly awkward.

Not everything that happens in life is awesome and worth having a party or blog post about. I get that – things like that have happened to me. For me, I process things by journaling: seeing them on paper (or a computer screen) makes craziness in life not that crazy, because they’re sitting on paper and not circling in my head. There are many of ways to process things that work much better for others, but that’s what’s good for me. I wonder about the readers of this blog – YOU! I know I don’t have a lot of readers, but I know a lot happens in your life. It’s not just me that is awkward and indecisive …right? In the grand scheme of things, five years isn’t that long. But it’s not all about me here – I’m sure a good amount of things happened in five years for you, too! I would love to hear about them in the comment section 🙂 Anyways: if the going is tough for you right now, know that sometimes you just have to wait it out… for a long time. Like, a REALLY long time – it might be more than five years. Read: good times are a’comin. 🙂

 

Moving Forward

I hate to post something that’s mood-dampening, but I have felt many emotions since Tuesday night: shock, concern, and more – and I think it’s important to write them out. At the same time, I know I am very fortunate: the results of this election don’t affect me that much; my life can easily move on.

Many of the students I teach are recent immigrants, and they do not have the same privilege I do. I cried the day following the election, thinking of these children and their families, the life they want to lead, the work they put in, and the possibility that they might not be here a year from now. I couldn’t move on.
Immediately following the election results, I was mad. I was angry that the United States could have allowed this to happen: a billionaire businessman with no political experience, considered as a joke 18 months ago, against so many things the country holds dear, is now the president-elect. There are a lot of reasons and articles explaining why this happened, but I still had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this is happening for real. Sure, there was the slight chance that something might happen between now and inauguration day, but anybody who said Trump “wasn’t that bad” was in my line of fire. I was off Facebook on Wednesday, I think it was for the best.

After a little while, I began to think a little more. There just might be hope out there. Listening to Hillary Clinton’s speech gave me a case of the sniffles (Okay, there were tears.) All is not lost… right? Then I began to think about God. Where was He in all of this? I certainly don’t see Him in Trump, even if people have told me otherwise.

To those who did vote for Trump: I don’t think your votes intended to represent a bigoted, misogynist, ableist, anti-immigrant person. I presented an argument against Trump to you, and you defended him with things like:

Mocking people with disabilities isn’t okay, but…

Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals was out of line, but…

What he said about sexually assaulting women isn’t right, but…

“Whatever your reasons, a vote for Trump required a rationalization. In order to vote for Trump, something mattered more to you than his mistreatment or discrimination of certain groups.” (Shannon Dingle) You admit that Trump has said and done some things… but. You rationalize, defend, and as a result, support and voted for what that man represents. Remember: A half-hearted vote counts the same as the vote from his number one fan.

But you know what? I’m not here to rant, be angry, or insult. I’ve realized that I can’t wallow in my frustrations, because that is going to get me nowhere. I have to make a choice: love or hate. So, I decided that it’s the Jesus in me that will love the Jesus in you. I’m going to pray for him. I really, really, REALLY hope and will be praying for our country to come together. Trump begins his presidency in January (the truth, no matter how painful it is to type), even if we don’t agree with anything he stands for. The Bible says to pray for your leaders, so even if I don’t want him sitting in the White House, I need to pray for him. Even if I don’t see God in Trump, I will pray for God to move through him.

Some have suggested “You just need to move on.” When you move on, you forget and concede that “it’s okay, forget it”. I certainly have the privilege to do so, but I couldn’t do it on Wednesday – and I won’t anytime soon. However, with God’s help, I will be moving forward. Pain and sorrow like this doesn’t go away; it makes me who I am. And with everything I am, I put one foot in front of the other on the same dusty path, remembering His enduring faithfulness every step of the way.

 


Side note: I found some C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters fan fiction: letters from an older tempter/demon mentoring a younger one.  This quote still hits the nail on the head, and I think it relevant for a time like this.

cs-lewis-quote

Goodbye Ireland!

Originally written on 16 May, 2016, as I was leaving Ireland:

collage_207

Just a few of the amazing places I’ve been…

What’s the word for “goodbye”, “I’ll be back”, “I’m already missing here”, “thanks for all the memories”, and “I fell in love with this place”? I’m having trouble finding one!
Ireland has been an amazing place to spend four months, and I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to come, study, and travel from Dublin. The people – even strangers – have been so loving and generous. I’ve made wonderful, amazing friends who I love and will miss terribly. The natural beauty is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Ireland’s history is amazing and I feel so fortunate to have witnessed the 1916 centennial, visited museums, and participated in the census.
At times, time passed very slowly. I didn’t always liked my professors and missed people back home. But looking back, the time has passed so fast. I can’t believe it’s time to go, and wish I could stay longer. There are so many places I would love to see, and things I would love to do still, especially around Ireland.
Getting to Dublin was much more difficult than some other people coming here, or other places abroad. My friend Macy (not her real name) who came with me from Gordon applied with me, and it was a tough process. We had to petition to come to Ireland, since Gordon didn’t already have a programme set up – so we had to make sure credits would transfer, confirm UCD was safe, etc. etc. – all to say that process wasn’t easy. But I don’t regret that process; it was all worth it.
I have so many mixed emotions as I go; I’m not sure exactly what I feel. I’ve felt this way before: leaving China after 6 weeks (I think it was 6!), Gordon, sleep-away camp… but those were usually for shorter periods of time or about the same, and I always knew I would be back. In Ireland, my stay was comparatively much longer, and farther away, and I’m not sure the next time I will be back in this beautiful country.
Despite the uncertainties, I do know for certain: My heart will always have a place here. Thanks for everything.

wicklow

The grass is actually greener here.

P.S. If you are ever studying in or travelling to Ireland (especially Dublin) on holiday or travel and need some tips, I would love to be of help! Send me a message or comment below! 🙂

Travel and Technology

Technology is an amazing thing. It’s so powerful, and has the ability to connect in so many ways. But strangely enough, I’ve found it also has the power to disconnect. Let me explain.

From my experience, I’ve always noticed that when I put the camera (or in my case, iPhone camera) away, so that I can experience a location – that is, breathe in,

La Giralda

Amazing find in La Giralda cathedral – Sevilla, Spain

breathe out the place and enjoy it to its fullest – it makes so much more of a difference. I often times find myself so consumed with taking pictures, trying to remember all of this that I’m seeing because it’s all so amazing! But I also need to remember to put it down, and really connect with the place. It’s hard to do sometimes, but it’s so worth it!

I also connect with a place by utilising all five of my senses. Breathe in, breathe out. What am I feeling – on my face, fingertips, feet? What am I touching? What do I smell? Taste? Hear? See? I try to pause to ask myself these questions whenever I see something beautiful, or am at a location or experience I really want to remember. I give myself a little time to take pictures, but then I want to feel the wind in my hair, hear the water or the scent of local coffee on the street in that moment. It’s not a moment a picture can capture.
Then there’s something else I’ve been noticing – not the connection between traveller and camera, but between the traveller and a physically distant person. I spent a few nights at a friend who was studying in Sevilla, Spain. She was living with a host family and had two other international students living with her. The difference between those two girls was ginormous. The first – let’s call her Rachel – had invested everything in her time in Spain. Sure, she used her phone, but she put it away at the dinner table, and used it mostly for goodbye-selfies with her Spanish friends. The other girl, let’s call her Sarah, was constantly on her computer or phone, communicating with someone from home – Skyping, Facetime-ing, voice messaging, text messaging… it was as if the conversation between those physically absent from her presence where taking priority over the potential conversation between those in front of her.
Because I  stayed at the end of their programme, I got to see the how the girls felt about leaving. Rachel was torn up – she didn’t want to leave and was crying for a while on her last night. She told me she would “move to Sevilla in a heartbeat”. Sarah expressed that she couldn’t wait to get home, telling us about all the things she was excited to see and do once she got back. It was as if she had never really left her home.
My theory is that Rachel had experienced Sevilla to its fullest because she had fully invested herself and her time in the culture, people, and country. She had experienced love in the country, and love makes leaving hard. Sarah, on the other hand, experienced love at home and wasn’t ready to let go of that to experience something else in a foreign place fully. It came as no surprise to me to find that Rachel’s Spanish was much better than Sarah’s – Rachel talked with her host mom and everyone at the dinner table in Spanish. She spoke English too, but it was a lot less than Sarah, who seemed to be using English much more than Spanish.
Technology brought Sarah close to those back home, but distanced her from the people right in front of her. Rachel limited her technology use so she was able to keep in touch with those far away, so that she was able to grow close to those nearby. This is a lesson for me – I want what Rachel had, and I realise now that technology can get in the way of that.
Sevilla bridge view

A breathtaking view in the La Giralda cathedral //Sevilla, Spain

“I read; I travel; I become.” -Derek Walcott

Around Dublin

I’ve been in Dublin a while (okay, three months!), and as a result, I’ve been familiarising myself with the local transportation. (Forgive my British/Irish English spellings if you’re not used to it, I just don’t want to be THAT American when writing, you know?) It’s good to be able to navigate a city when you love it, or you’re just learning to. Here are a couple tips I would have for getting around Dublin – not just from UCD!

1. Bilingualism

One of the first things I noticed that took me by surprise was the English and Gaelic around. After looking more into it, it’s only the west coast of Ireland that really uses Gaelic, but Gaelic is still one of the official languages of the Republic of Ireland. Don’t worry, this won’t be a history lesson! (Personally, I think it makes a pretty cool one. #historybuff ) As a result, you’ll be seeing street signs and bus stops with both the Gaelic and English name.

Trinity Library

Trinity College Library

2. AirCoach

Arriving to Dublin, and getting to UCD, I took the AirCoach bus, which was super helpful. Comfortable seats, clean bathroom, storage for your luggage – it’s a long trip, but I really can’t complain. There are a few stops the bus makes along the way, but it’s a good way to get out from the airport for sure. (Cost is 10 euro round-trip.)

 

3. The Dublin Bus

I could go on about the buses around Dublin (there are several, many of them touristy or horse-and-carriage), but the Dublin Bus is the main, best way to get around. It might be a tad confusing, but it’s easier when look up the timetables/schedules online beforehand. They also have an app! Fortunately for me (worst sense of direction here!), many of the bus stops have the bus number and destination on a screen, and the amount of time expected on little screens at many of the stations. Without a Leap Card (London equivalent to Oyster card), one bus ride to anywhere costs 2.70 euro. However, 3-day visitor Leap cards are available! See the link above for details.

4. Maps, etc.

The Spire

The Spire monument

 

Knowing the city is very helpful. Newfangled inventions like Google Maps help for sure, but it’s also good to know what you’re getting into ahead of time. My sense of direction is very bad, so I need to know where I’m going and the general direction of where I’m headed. Or I take a more directionally-gifted friend with me, that always helps! The city centre is not too difficult to navigate, since it’s not a huge city (compared to NYC or Madrid), and you can walk almost everywhere. While there are some small roads that change names (very confusing!), having a map in hand, plus an Irish person nearby is all you need! For me, Irish people are SUPER warm and welcoming, always ready to help out if you need directions. You can ask anyone on the street – even Dublin Bus drivers are willing to help!

In other words… just go to Ireland! If your time is limited, I would highly encourage you to take a guided day trip tour outside Dublin (usually three locations for about 50 euro, available through several tour companies), even if you’re only around for two or three days. As much as I love Dublin, I feel that you only really sense Ireland once you go outside the city. It’s a BEAUTIFUL country and I don’t think you will regret it. I’ve been here three months, and I certainly don’t!

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

How to survive a long trip: 11 Do’s & Dont’s

Nowadays, in-flight movies have great selections. But you’re not always flying, and the plane doesn’t always have a TV. So what to do? I recently traveled for more than 24 hours straight (including layovers). So I can say with confidence: it’s hard, but you can do it. Also, I know I have more do’s than I have don’ts. I guess I’m just a positively-thinking person? Sorry if I’ve disappointed you with my 7 do’s and only 4 don’ts. But remember, these are just suggestions from me – you can disregard them if you’d like, but these are what I’ve found helpful.

  1. Do: Bring a good book: It can be a book you’ve read before, or one that’s been sitting on your list for a while. Just bring something that you know will take up your time and keep you engaged.
  2. Don’t: iPhone/electronic games: If you’re on a long flight/trip, it has a good chance of running out of battery. These days, a lot of airports provide outlets to charge your phone/computer. Regardless, I would go with the paper book (or other non-electronic things) if possible, but if you trust the battery level to power through (literally!), then go ahead. I’m not there to stop you! If you’re going internationally, your phone bill will thank you later if you turn your cellular data OFF and go into airplane mode for the entirety of your trip.
  3. Do: Sleep. It seems like a no-brainer, but you want sleep – that new time zone demands it. If you’re like me, you’ll be needing a Pillow Pet or some kind of cushion so your neck doesn’t fall off, and maybe an eye mask/ear plugs so you can black out (in a good way, of course). For your trip, you might want to try falling asleep to the tune of your destination’s time zone, so you’re not COMPLETELY jet-lagged.

    Sleeping

    Getting over jet lag like…

  4. Don’t: Talk too loud. Respect other people by keeping quiet. They might be trying to sleep, didn’t read this blog post, or forgot their earplugs at home – and now they’re depending on you. You might be sitting with your best friend for the next 12 hours, but everyone else doesn’t have to know.
  5. Do: Bring food. Check ahead of time to see what meals you’ll be getting, if any. If you have a lot of layovers, this can be important. Even if you are getting food, it might stink and you might be allergic to it. If you have layovers or transfers (i.e. plane to train to car, etc.), then who knows – you could get delayed, and you don’t want to pay 5 times what you should be for a bottle of water, amiright?  This is especially important on buses, where the only food is at the station. Plus, you get the food you want, when you want it. Sounds good to me!
  6. Don’t: Bring fragile foods. You might love your fruits and crackers, but they can get easily smooshed or explode and then leak. That would be terrible. Also, for the sake of your fellow travellers, don’t bring anything strong-smelling: you can have egg salad or tuna any other day.
  7. Do: Bring toiletries in your carry-on: Brushing your teeth, a splash of cold water on your face, or for the ladies out there, some eyeliner is one of the best ways I know to freshen up. A little mouthwash works too, if the space is an issue. For plane rides, make sure it’s 2 ounces or less! A comb can go a long ways as well. These tools are best utilized at the very end of the trip, like the last hour (or every 12 hours, depending on your travel time). I know that you know that you need a toothbrush, etc. But I would make a note to myself: bring it in the carry-on. It’s easy to stick it in the suitcase, but when you need to look pulled together as soon as you hop out of a taxi, bring those toiletries. Maybe a mint, too. Hopefully it won’t, but carried-on toiletries become much more important if your luggage gets lost!
  8. Don’t: Ladies, if it’s that time of the month, you don’t want to be caught unprepared. I think that’s all I need to say about that.
  9. Do: Bring puzzles, etc.: Scrabble grams, sudoku, crosswords – all legends. They drive me crazy, but hey – you will have the time to work through it! When I’m sick of my book but can’t seem to sleep (shoutout to the crying baby), a good Scrabble gram will keep me engaged and doing something.
  10. Don’t: Leave luggage unattended. If you’re travelling with a friend, ask them to watch it while you use the bathroom. If you’re not with a friend, make a friend! Ask them to watch your things for you. You might also want to bring your most-valuable things (i.e. phone, wallet) with you to the bathroom or wherever.
  11. Do: bring a notebook or journal. I journal a lot, so while I was travelling, I wrote a couple entries. But you don’t have to be a consistent journal-er to find time to write down your thoughts on your 13-hour flight! I’m sure most people don’t, but I also practiced my cursive and made a list of the things I was going to do once I landed. At the same time, paper isn’t limited to journaling! My brother and I have this game where one person draws an unnamable squiggle or line, and the second person has to make it a recognizable object. Once I drew a swirl, and my brother made it into a snail. Another time Jon drew a boxy shape, and I made it Spongebob. It passes the time, and it’s fun!

And an extra “do”: Locate the bathroom. it seems a little weird, and I might be the only person to do this kind of thing, but on a long ride I’ll find the bathroom and utilize the facilities… to get my crazy out. See, I have wiggles. They need to come out. So I get them out by doing some exercises like squats or high knees or just any kind of movement. Tip: Don’t do anything too crazy in a bus bathroom, it could shake it and you could get weird looks after you walk out!

But above all, do TRAVEL and LOVE IT. After 18-hour flights and 24-hour travels (including layovers, etc.), I can say travelling can be VERY hard and can definitely take a toll on you! But it can also be VERY worth it. Don’t let a bad experience get you down – there are still so many beautiful, amazing places out there to see! Take a deep breath, remember why you’re travelling, and book your next flight. 😉

Paris

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” -Mary Ann Radmacher

Little Fish, Big Pond

I have a lot of post drafts on this blog. Some go back a long way, but others not so much. I feel like I want to say something, but I’m not exactly sure what or how. But since it’s March, I’m in Dublin, and I’m a girl meeting the world (not just America and China), I figured I’d publish something! (I’m not going to post it all in one go, rather I will spread the posts out over time.)

For those who keep up with me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting a lot about travels – Dublin, Belfast, London, etc. while studying at University College Dublin (UCD). So I figured while I’m at it, I might as well document it here, for you! I will also be posting some hints and tips for you – especially my fellow study abroad-ers.

UCD.dorm

My room at UCD

The semester at UCD began at the end of January. I got into an on-campus apartment (Belgrove – super nice! Definitely would recommend), I have gotten somewhat acquainted with the campus. UCD is a big school, so it’s impossible to know everything, everywhere – but transportation has been essential – more on that later. It technically still is in Dublin (after all: University College Dublin), but it’s a bit farther from the city centre than I thought. I did a little research about how to get to the airport to UCD: turns out, there is a bus that goes straight from the airport to UCD! Perfect! It’s called AirCoach (tickets can be purchased at the airport and online), and it’s a bit of a ride, but it’s comfortable and direct!

As someone from Gordon College, a small school just north of Boston, I have to say UCD is very different. For starters, UCD has a population of about 32,000 students. That’s 30,000 more than Gordon! So yeah, little fish in a big pond. But I like more than the on-campus Starbucks. Travel, new friends, different cultures… I’m excited for what’s to come!

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” -Anonymous