Posted by: 2girls2europe | June 28, 2011

A Week In Review: What Jessie Has Learned (A Serious Sidenote)

Dearest Readers,
So we are now half way through our second week so I thought I would do a little “week one recap.” I’m sure it will be riveting and thought-provoking. Hah, not really. I just think it’s interesting to write down how I’m feeling as I go through this, because it’s not at all what I expected, which is both good and bad. Disclaimer: this post is partially serious. So try not to freak out.
What I did not expect:
–I am actually a little weenie who misses home. I have always been bad with homesickness (like at age 9, I lasted 2 days at summer camp, before I demanded someone come get me). But I thought that when I traveled abroad I would be like super-human, independent Jessie who is taking on the world with her wit. Turns out, sometimes it’s hard to travel without any comforts or familiar faces other than the wonderful Gina Edwards. Sometimes, I just want to be around people who understand me and how I work, and it’s just lonely. But that ebbs and flows, and sometimes I’m bold, brash, independent Jessie. But sometimes, I just miss my mom. And I am not ashamed of this. It is helping me to be a better person.
–Relaxing and doing nothing is necessary, or I will pass out. I felt like I had so much I wanted to do everywhere and if I didn’t do it then I would be a failure. I am living the college dream! I have to be go-go-go all the time! I am like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love! In reality, I have to relax to survive. Think about your typical week at school, you take one day usually to recooperate. It’s the same abroad. I can’t do it all. That is tough.
–I am learning a lot about how I work as a person, and what I have to adjust about myself. I like having plans, I am stubborn, I like to lead, I like to control over things, etc. I already knew these things to a certain extent. But when traveling, you have to learn to confront them. Ex: Gina wants to walk around Scotland, but I had planned to do the walking tour today. I have to let go of my plan (we can always do it tomorrow), and just enjoy myself. It’s not easy. But Gina and I pretty much have daily talks where we discuss what we are learning about ourselves. It’s an interesting and unexpected time for self-reflection. I know, I know, I am so deep and profound and stuff like that. I could freaking write for Hallmark, I am so full of profundity.
–You never stop thinking. you are constantly taking stock of what you are eating, how much money you are spending, where everything that is important is located, how you are going to get in touch with your family/friends today, how you will travel to your next destination, and on and on. It’s exhausting. At some point you just want to say “peace out europe, i’m going to follow the next hobo I see!” But you never do. And you probably just need a nap.
Things I did expect, but are still noteworthy, so you should read on:
–European people are way cooler than Americans. They dress better, or at least walk with more confidence. A lot of them travel by themselves all over Europe without a second thought. They have traffic lights that turn yellow before they turn green, so that you know the light is about to turn (they are so smart!). And their coins go by size: the 50 cent is the biggest and the penny and five cent pieces are the smallest. This begs the question why is the nickel bigger than the dime, which is smaller than the penny! I don’t know why these are my examples of European cool-ness, but my brain works in mysterious ways.
–Meeting people is way fun. Whether it’s running into strangers at the hostel, befriending barmen, or chatting with storeowners, meeting all of these people from all over the world is just cool. I have never learned so many crazy random facts (like the source of the word hangover or about the wine area of France), or been reminded so frequently of how little I know about countries outside the U.S. Traveling is like a crash course in International Relations. It’s real life international relating!
–Sleeping. It’s hard to do. But really, your body does adjust and one day you realize you accidentally passed out even though your hostel room is full of snoring people and there is construction outside. Yay for body adjustments!!
Overall this trip is wonderful and every day I am thankful to be here, but I think it is important to note that there are struggles. Some days you are in a better mood than others, some days you just want to lay in bed and read (I am reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which can make any day wonderful), and some days you are adventurous and bold just like you hoped you would be. It’s a mixed bag. It’s a freaking roller coaster, and for now, I’m enjoying the ride. (I hope you gagged on that last cliche.) I would love to see comments from people who have traveled in the past: are these revelations you have had? How do you cope with constant change?
I promise that I will post what I am up to soon, but I thought this post was worth it. You may not agree, but I am far away from you so it doesn’t matter. Hah! With love from Edinburgh!

——
Jessie

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Responses

  1. Your environment is ever-changing but inside you are a constant in sea of chaos. Keep true to your core and you will be okay…Be good to yourself.

  2. It is ok to miss your mom… and admit it!

  3. Resting is a necessity! I went to the Netherlands to stay with various family members for about a month the summer before senior year. Between traveling all over the country to get to various family member’s homes and visiting everything I wanted to, I was sure I would have no time to rest. Two days in, my friend and I decided it was time for a day off. I think it’s something a lot of people don’t think about, but when you’re on a vacation like that and not a beach vacation, you actually have to make time to relax.

    Also, I feel ya on the homesickness. I never get homesick here in America…I could go on vacation with my friends when I was little and never get homesick. I feel like once you go abroad, though, the strangeness of everything can get overwhelming and it’s not even just familiar faces you want, but a familiar way of life, just to ground you again and let you know things haven’t always been and won’t always be so strange and unfamiliar. But I also don’t think homesickness means you want to go home and aren’t enjoying the trip, which I think a lot of people equate homesickness to these things.

    Bah. I’m super jealous of your travels and if you go to the Netherlands I’ll be even more jealous/excited about your travels. I love that country. My grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins from my mother’s side all live there, so I’ve gone a few times. It’s muh fav.

  4. Two things: 1, There are like six major wine areas in France. 2. Ask Gina to show you the email I sent her this morning with my reflections on my trip and feeling homesick at times. I definitely know the feeling. Hope you’re on a high stretch. 🙂


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