As always, I apologize, my dear readers, for the fact that I'm sorely behind in posting. I hope this post will help explain some of that, among other things.
I think that last time I posted I mentioned talking about culture shock, or lack thereof, and that is relevant to today's discussion. Because I am in a different culture, where people comment things like 'I'm f------ lakes out of me noodle sham' on each others' statuses (this is my not so subtle plea for someone to explain to me what that means. I believe it's an expression of jealousy? Google has not managed to help me), and they say 'craic' about once an hour, at least. The crosswalks are different, the food goes moldy quicker, there's actually water under the bridges.
But like, I still say whoopsadasie, wait until the green walking signal tells me to go (though apparently jaywalking isn't illegal here? I still prefer not to do it), eat my same 5 dishes, and it's not like I haven't seen rain before, even if it was before I moved to California. Everyone kept warning me about how bad culture shock would be, and how it would grate on my nerves that everything was just slightly different, and I have heard people talking about how that's true for them, but... I kept waiting for the shoe to drop and then it fell off the foot I wasn't expecting it to*.
I've had a couple discussions in the past couple days that basically amount to "You can go to a new country but you'll still be yourself."
And it's not like this shoe dropping was actually that unexpected, I chose to study abroad partly because I wanted to learn more about myself and who I am and all that jazz. Mostly I think that's been a product of not drowning in homework, as non-American colleges (and especially non-Mudd colleges) have very little homework comparatively.
This is getting hard to pin down, but earlier one of my friend messaged me in reply to a selfie I'd taken in Belfast, "Kira you look fantabulous! Are ya having a great time??" and I decided to give the honest answer.
"I just don't know."
I could regale you all with stories about going to see Connemara and Castles and Belfast and the Giant's Causeway, but I could just as easily tell you about days spent curled up in bed with the Hamilton soundtrack, or a new book, or Netflix, days spent effectively living off Nutella as I wondered how I was ever going to function as an adult in the real world. Trying to interact with my peers and remembering how exhausting it is to try and get to know new people when you don't have the common threads of Mudd Core and the fact that you're the type of person who goes to Mudd, honestly.
I've gone half-way around the world, but I'm still me. And part of being me is having Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety, and I knew that going into this, but it's still... When people talk about study abroad they talk about how "you're going to have so much fun" and it's going to be the "best time of your life" and "you won't possibly regret it!" and I don't regret it, but that doesn't mean I'm having the best time of my life. The best time of my life could be when I'm 76 and look back and realize how far I've come, or when I'm 176 and pronounced a medical miracle for surviving that long. I'm joking here, but I also genuinely don't want to peak at 19. The world is still so big and open, and if I let this be the last time I remembered that, I'd be doing myself a disservice.
So this is my post to tell you that I'm sad. I'm studying abroad and I'm lonely and I miss my friends and family. I only have one plug adapter, and I'm avoiding most people when they ask me how I'm doing because the expected dialogue involves me talking about how beautiful it is (true), and how nice everyone is (true). and how I'm so glad I came (partially true). But if I want to fully explain my study abroad experience I also need to be able to tell people that I'm curled up under two blankets right now, that the fact that I've made it to all my classes this week is a minor miracle, that I've eaten 2.5kg of Nutella in the past ~3 weeks because I stress eat chocolate when I'm sad. That this isn't the greatest time of my life, and I'm sure I'll get new friends and great memories from it, but there are bad memories to be had to.
So if you're planning to study abroad, I don't want to discourage you, but I do want you to realize that when you're sad on your trip, you're not alone. It's an entire semester, it can't all be spent thinking how beautiful it all is and how lucky you are to be there. You'll have fun, sure, but you'll also have times when you're feeling horrifically down. And that's okay. I'm making it through, and I'm pretty sure you can to.
*I honestly find interacting with other Americans more of a culture shock because I'm supposed to have everything in common with them, and yet I don't. Also I'm feeling some culture shock because cookie clicker just changed their font- what's up with that????