Happiness is….

You don’t know what happy is like until you’ve gone from one extreme to the other. As many of my readers know, I came back from a year abroad in Wales. Being back means living with my mom, working at the same company I did before I left, and no friends who can just head to the pub at the flip of a coin. The difference in the night life in America and in the U.K. are staggering. There is genuinely more happy and friendly people in the United Kingdom than in the United States.

Which brings me back to the point I wanted to somehow make in the beginning of this post. “You look so happy,” and “I’ve never seen you as happy as you are right now” were regular statements heard from family and friends while I was away. I kept thinking, “was I that unhappy before? I mean, I smiled and laughed, just as I was here.”

But then it hit me. I wasn’t happy. And here is why.

Giving an explanation to any action is terrifying. If I want to go out, just to go out, I couldn’t here at home. Most of my older relatives or friends would say it’s because I didn’t have any responsibility. To me, it was because I didn’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of clean, or what’s proper. I could just be me.

That’s the glorious part about going abroad and being alone. You really get to know who you are. These things you learn abroad might not stick with you when you’re back, but you will always have that memory of being away and free.

The worst part about being home after a year abroad are the pictures. The pictures your friends post at the clubs or on campus. You imagine yourself there, as if it won’t cost you about four months of work to even get back to the place you love. You can imagine that club scene like you were there with them. Pre drinks at your place, Gassy Jacks right before the main event, and then all hell breaks loose. You might find yourself at Live Lounge at the end of the night, where you will most definitely NOT be carded because the bouncer recognizes you. Or maybe just perusing down the City Center, where you will inevitably stop off at McDonalds for some overpriced McNuggets.

So maybe I will have to push myself to be happy, but at least now I have a goal of where I want my life to be like.

With that being said, I would love to go back to the UK. At the time it felt like it was such a long time, but in reality, it flew by like a gust of wind.

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Cheers from Across the Pond!

Cheers from across the pond! It’s been a while since I posted about my adventures here in the UK. I am having a blast over here. Seriously, it’s the best thing that has happened to me so far. Well, besides meeting Billie Joe Armstrong! Every day I’m reminded of how amazing it is to travel the world and to see new places. So far, I’ve only been to London outside of Cardiff, but I’m still happy to be here. And to have this experience. Halloween was such a crazy weekend. I have to say that it started out on Thursday for me, since I attended a friend’s party that night in costume.

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I’ve been to London twice so far. I wrote about my last London trip, so here goes my epic story of the second. It’s not that epic, but it’s awesome regardless. We left at 4:25 in the morning on Saturday. We had actually been partying really hard the night before, for my flat mate Harsha’s birthday. It was so fun getting to share in that moment with everyone. I had lots of fun at the party. I’m not really that big of a party person, but I’m sure no one even noticed.

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When we had gotten to London, we were all tired. But we couldn’t check into the hostel till two pm, so we walked around. We went to the London Bridge area and walked around. We even got to go on the top of the bridge and look down from the glass. It was so cool.

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When we finally got to the hostel, we were already divided. We were a group of ten so you know. We took a nap and then got ready to party. We went through Picadilly to find a club to go to. We had finally found one after an hour that let us in for ten pounds. Considering everywhere else was full and cost twenty pounds, I say we got a bargain. I admit I am not usually into the whole clubbing thing, but it was great to spend it with friends. Harsha wanted to go to a strip club, but none of them would let us in. We did get to see Chinatown and Soho though, so that was a plus.

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We didn’t get back to the hostel till around 3 in the morning. It was so cold, but thankfully the bus stop wasn’t too far from the hostel. It was so hard getting everyone up the next morning. I even pelted a guy with a pillow. Hilarious. Sunday was spent seeing Big Ben and going to the Sherlock Holmes museum. Harsha and I went alone to the museum since everyone else wanted to see things we had seen on our previous trip. It was definitely somewhere I would suggest people go to in London.

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Even though I had been there only once, I found our way through the city pretty easy. What can I say. I remember directions pretty well. Other than the London trip, I’ve had some interesting times here in Cardiff. Just going out with friends is fun and exciting. I went with a friend to the Doctor Who Experience the other week and I had so much fun the second time around. It’s definitely way better than going alone.

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As for my course, I have to say that I love it. It’s so enlightening to be with people who are dedicated writers. I’m lucky that I didn’t go into business or science. We don’t have exams like everyone else. But that doesn’t mean that it’s totally easy. It’s hard to come up with ideas and to critique your own work. I think the greatest advantage to being here other than in the States is that since everything is so different, I can get material from that. I also gain a knowledge about what international readers might think about American writers. There are some things that I have to explain to them when I’m writing that I probably wouldn’t have to if they were American. And it works the other way around. So it’s interesting trying to make everything accessible for everyone.

I’m so happy that all of my friends are proud of me. I have yet to send out my postcards, but believe me, I will get to them. And I found a substitute for Target. Tesco has a big store near where I live that is basically like Target. It’s huge and kind of intimidating. A place I can get lost in, just like at Target.

I miss all of my friends back home and hope you guys can keep in touch. I love you all!

London Calling! To be or NOT to Be, that is the question… writing skills

It’s been a month since I got here! What? That’s crazy talk! I feel like it’s been a lifetime of amazingness… which of course is not a word, but I’m a writer. I have “artistic license.” Since I only have two classes a week, I have a ton of free time to work with. Mainly I spend it writing, or reading. But sometimes I go on walks to help give myself inspiration. There’s a park behind the place I’m staying at and it has given me some great inspiration for my writing. Plus the open air just really makes me happy. Wales in the Fall is beautiful. Especially in London… it’s spectacular!

Coming from the Bay Area, I haven’t really experienced this thing you call “Fall.” So when I actually got to walk around London in the Fall, it was like Heaven on Earth. I am seriously not kidding. My favorite site in London was the Buckingham Palace. Not just the building itself, but the trees surrounding it. It gave me the perspective that hey, I could be a royal. Hahaha. Just kidding. I’m totally not about that high life. Give me jeans any day.

I saw Hamlet! The one with Benedict Cumberbatch! It was amazing! I did snooze during the show… in parts where Benedict wasn’t in them… but hey. I literally had no sleep for two days. The performance blew me away. I am a huge fan of Hamlet and getting to see him portray such an iconic character was awe inspiring. He brought so many different layers to the character of Hamlet. I was not disappointed. Afterwards, I got to see him. Well, sort of. I was in a crowd waiting to see him and I was a few people from the front. But I got a great photo.

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The rest of the trip was amazing. We went to the Tower of London, the London Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Square. I went with my flat mate, Harsha, who is from India. She is such an amazing person. Normally when I’m around people for an extended period of time, I want some time to be alone. But I felt very comfortable around her. I’m glad that I have her as a friend. She loves taking photos and so we would always go around taking random photos. I like being behind the camera most of the time, but she definitely brought the photogenic part of me out.

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I want to talk about the feeling of homesickness. I miss home like any normal person would in my situation. I’m a thousand miles from home and knew no one before coming here. The friends I have made have all helped me out in so many ways. I think I’m more happy than sad now. It sucks not being able to physically give my mom a hug or even cuddle with my cat, but they’re always in my heart.

I’m also going to bring up the fact that I am an American. The people in my program are all from the UK. Sometimes when they talk about things, I sit there wondering what in the world they are talking about. But it is an enriching experience. I don’t want to just be hanging out with international students. Students from here are cool as well. I thought it would set me apart and alienate me, but I quite like it. People aren’t as mean as I thought they would be about the fact that I am from America.

I want to write a poem about my experience… I’m not a poet so you’re going to have to bear with me. FYI I haven’t edited this at all… so if it’s rubbish just say so.

The sweet smell of Fall in the air
Cold      Crisp
Voices of different languages
The steady heartbeat of
another
against my chest

I yearn for home
and want for another
This dark, new experience
hanging by a thread
I’m scared and restless

Images and sounds
help me leave the darkness
of the world and into
a parallel universe.

This feeling inside me
will never fade.
If only for a moment
shall our paths cross

Then maybe I can see
again.

*****

Maybe that made no sense. But I stopped thinking during that exercise. I think as writers, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to one medium of writing. I wrote a short play as an exercise for a piece of fiction I was writing. And it gave me one of the best scenes that I had. If you can translate something you wrote into another form of writing, maybe that will give it some new perspective. I’m not saying change it, just try to write it as a poem, a play, or maybe a fiction piece, if you’re writing poetry. These might help you come up with new ideas and new perspectives on what you are writing.

Now that a month has passed, I know that I can succeed in this new country and I am looking forward to the many months ahead of me.

Keep me in the pocket of your ripped jeans

With 21 more days until I leave for Wales, I wanted to keep everyone in the loop with what is happening with that move. Also I wanted to take some time to go on about my hopes and my fears about moving to another country.

Starting with the fears, since that is what is literally on my mind all of the time. I think part of me is slacking in the getting ready department because I’m so terrified. I mean, I keep asking myself, WHAT SHOULD I BRING???!!! I mean, will I even bring enough to last me a full year? I know that I could always get my mom to send them to me, but think about it. Shipping it costs money and there’s also the tedious task of having to explain what I want shipped and yadda yadda yadda.

I didn’t buy a return ticket home because I don’t have that much money to spare. And who knows when I’m able to come back during the year. Also, I have no clue what my plans are for after the year. I guess my fear is that even though it is only a year, what if I don’t come back? Not in the death kind of way, but just that I choose to stay there. I have so many little trinkets that make up my room. I would hate to leave that for my mom to take care of during the year. Also, those books I have are a huge part of my life. They say I should go digital but no thank you. I cannot concentrate while reading anything on an electronic device.

Another fear I have is that I’ll be the only one with an American accent over there. I don’t want to be the weird American girl. I know this is just crazy nonsense to be worried about and it probably shouldn’t be on my top list of fears, but it’s scary for me. At least when I went to Macau I was surrounded by a bunch of people very similar to me. This time I’ll be alone to wander those amazing Welsh, British, Scottish and maybe some Australian accents.

There are other fears, but they aren’t that prevalent in my nightmares. These fears will all come to be little things compared to the amazing adventure I’m about to embark on. I have a few friends who are traveling the world and I get so envious that they are doing it right now. I would kill to be in London, Paris, or Scotland right now. It’s all about the waiting game now.

My big hope for this trip is to discover myself outside of my comfort zone. I’ll be thousands of miles away from my family and friends. I will have to develop INDEPENDENT THOUGHT!!! AHHH! I feel like most of my life has been in subtle fear of being judged by friends and family members. Being so far away will give me the chance to really find out who I am. One thing I would like to kick is this little voice in my head that worries about what other people think.

As for progress in this process (hey that rhymed!!!) I have been approved for my visa. I just paid for the return shipping so they should be sending it to me in the next two days. I have just started putting things I want to bring in a box. I will then sort it into what can go into the suitcases after I put in all my clothes. Hopefully that works out. I have to do more research on phone coverage, but it looks like if anyone wanted to contact me they would have to do it through the internet. I’m sure when I get there it will be a bit easier to get a hold of a cheap phone.

I put in my two week’s notice at work. I’m kind of sad that it’s finally over. I’ve worked at my job for three years. I’ve seen plenty of people come and go and have made interesting friendships because of my job. Just… wow.

So I wanted to end on a creative piece I’ve been thinking about in my head. These are from little moments in my life.

***

That time that guy said he could see Lara Croft’s boobs in Tomb Raider so he could impress you. Or that time someone jumped from the slide and got send to the hospital. Or when a kid got his forehead bashed in playing kickball. His teeth were inside his head. Or even that time a wild dog strolled into the elementary school campus. These moments play an interesting part of my young life. Moments that sit in my head like honey. I sit and watch the world go by; all while walking down from the store. The ocean dances into view as I take the hill down to my house. Moments of pure innocence, the only kind I ever want to think about. Watch me drift into the void of space and reality, while still holding my head high. I’m searching for this object of infinity that I won’t find at the store.

***

It’s kind of poetic, I think. I kind of wanted to give the feel of trying to find infinity and getting lost in the past. I think we are all trying to find that piece of infinity. This adventure will be my route to finding it. I think the best feel for what I am going for is this:

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
Times forever frozen still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin’ me closer
‘Til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
Wait for me to come home

***

It’s from “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran. Definitely go give it a listen if you’re interested. I hope you liked reading this as much as I liked writing it. Will definitely add more stuff later on to this blog. I’m so thankful for my 79 followers and everyone who supports me.

I’m going to be studying at Cardiff University 2015-2016!

So I have yet to hear back from anyone who may be interested in the August read a thon. If you are interested, please comment here.

Anyways, I wanted to write a blog about my life. And what is happening right now. What made me really think about this was when I saw people who I haven’t seen in months. They had no clue that I was leaving the country for a year. I think it bothers me that people don’t see my posts, especially when it’s life changing stuff. I always blame Facebook and to be quite honest, myself. I have so many insecurities that sometimes I’m under the delusion that I’m not a fun and amazing person to be around. I mean sure, I have my rough patches, but there’s nothing that really makes me unlikable. Sometimes I think that people are intentionally not seeing my posts because they’re too scared to unfriend me. Or they pity me… or something. But I’m blaming everything on Facebook being stupid. Cause you know when you see a friend on Facebook like a bunch of posts of a mutual friend, but never any of your posts? It doesn’t feel that great. But hey, it’s Facebook weeding out people they think aren’t important to you. It’s all about variables. Math and statistics is all well and good, but you always have to account for variables.

So maybe I went on a little rant there. Great. I sound like a dork even on the internet! XD.

On with this post! I have been busy lately trying to get my trip to Wales settled. And when I say busy, I mean spending time watching movies and reading books. But there is only so much you can do while waiting for certain aspects of the process to come through.

I have applied for my visa. I have an appointment on Monday to get my picture and fingerprint done. If that all goes well, then it’s a done deal. Well, except I still have to hear back from the registrar about tuition. They said they would email me three weeks before school starts about signing up for classes, financial aid, and when to pay tuition. I applied as an individual for FAFSA so I should hopefully qualify for work study. That would help so many things.

I did a virtual tour of where I will be staying. It looks pretty nice. It is one of the nicest places to stay in student housing apparently. I got my own bathroom, so no waiting in line for the bathroom. My place is a ten to fifteen minute walk to campus, which should not be a problem.

When I get nervous sometimes I go on Facebook to check out the event beforehand. I was looking at all these international organizations on campus and there are plenty of trips to places such as Dublin or Glasgow. I’m so excited! The mascot for my school is a dragon.

Oh and I should mention I’m going to Cardiff University in Wales. If any of you guys have any questions so far about my trip to Wales, feel free to ask.