First Day of School

Today was the first day of school. Of senior year of college.

And I didn’t go.

Taking a semester off of school is a really strange thing. I spent the day scrolling through Facebook and Instagram looking at photos of my friends all going off to class, starting their senior year and all looking darling in their sorority recruitment shirts, which of course happen to be pink the year I’m not there. 

A part of me wishes to be there with all of them, moved into my apartment with my girlfriends, jogging around the gorgeous main quad and using the hashtag #lastsipofchampaign all over my Instagram. Let’s be real, it’s a great hashtag and my friends are brilliant. 

Anyways, there’s a fear that comes with not returning to school. Fear of missing out, of course, but also a fear of not being missed at all. A fear of becoming irrelevant. By the time I return to campus I will have been gone an entire full year, and considering college is only four years, that’s a long time. That time feels even longer because by the time I will have returned, I will be a completely different person. The globe-trotting, 250-mile-walking, camel-riding, mind-blowing-internship-getting woman that I have grown into. 

Yet, all of those fears and concerns are immediately drowned out because my life is moving in the exact direction that I want it to. I have my dream internship, and I feel a satisfaction with my life that I never even thought possible. I have the privilege of working for the company that countless people dream of working for. I get to fly to New York for training, live in my new gorgeous bachelorette pad and explore Ann Arbor for three months. I honestly can’t ask for anything more than what I already have in my life.

Yet, I am only human, and the human part of me wanted a first day of senior year. That’s all. Just the day. Okay, and maybe an Instagram post. But hey, I’ll get that when I return to school in January. Cheers to all my ladies down at U of I, here’s a toast to your last sip of Champaign! 

In the meantime, I still get to enjoy a little bit of summer vacation before my next great adventure begins!

Summertime Chi

Readjustment

It’s been a week since I’ve been back. I intended to write earlier, I really did. But I suppose it took me longer than I expected to process everything. That, and there is just so much to do when you come home after seven months.

I’ve moved back in and unpacked, which is a production in itself. Then I hibernated a few days, just relishing in the “mine-ness” of things, my own real bed, my lap dog, a real closet and a fridge already stocked with groceries. I’ve caught up with some of the people I missed the most, and I’ve just been taking it easy.

I keep getting asked, “how was it?”

Frankly, I never know what to say. I mean really, how do you say, “itwasthebestthingthateverhappenedtomeandimissitalreadyandeverythingwasbeautifulandeasyandicant explainitbecauseitsafeelingthattheenglishlanguagecannotexplainandyouwouldntunderstandbutthankyou forasking.”

I also get asked about what I missed the most while abroad. That’s a hard one too, because I’m not sure that I missed anything in particular. I didn’t daydream about Chipotle, I learned how to live without a closet full of clothes I don’t wear and I actually preferred not having internet on my phone at all times. I missed people, certain people, but not things.

That being said, I am glad to be back. It’s nice having a certain sense of routine and stability, even if it’s only for a few weeks. And, after a month of the triple B diet in Poland (beer, bread and butter), it’s good to be back home with a garden full of produce, healthy, non-traveler meals and my favorite yoga instructor at my local studio.

My blog has been on my mind lately, because I suppose I have been avoiding the question, “now what?”

I began PaulineFlewAway to chronicle my adventures abroad, and have attained more success with my website than originally anticipated. Even though those adventures have technically come to an end, I have decided to maintain my blog. I love writing, always will, and I still have many stories to share from my time abroad. Plus, I have many adventures still ahead in the next few months as I dive into my incredible fall internship, exploring American cities throughout the fall, a winter full of tropical travels, and a senior spring semester of five day weekends!

I am not done.

Home sweet home

I’m Coming Home

After seven months of living abroad, it’s time for me to go home.

So cheers.

Cheers to walking 250 miles across the north of Spain. To sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert. To watching Les Miserables live in London. To hugging my best friend under the Eiffel Tower. To wandering the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. To toasting to my 21st birthday with my mama in Malta. To doing yoga with GRiZ in Switzerland. To trekking throughout Northern Italy alone. To being next to the pope for Easter in the Vatican. To cruising in a convertible on a Spanish island. To fairytale weddings in Poland. To spontaneous visits to Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. To hitting 16,000 views from 5,000 visitors on a blog I thought no one, aside from my mama would read. To the to 30 flights, 15 trains, 3 ferries, 3 strangers’ vehicles, 1 camel and a whole lot of walking, that got me safely where I needed to go. And last but not least, to living in the most beautiful city in the world, Barcelona.

This journey was filled with immense life lessons. I have experienced great joy, excitement, clarity and contentment. I learned what it means to be alone, and sometimes afraid. I made friends from all over the world, as well as a few from my own backyard that I cannot wait to see when I’m back.

It’s so clichΓ© to say, but this experience changed my life. I mean, can anyone go live abroad for months and not change? That would be impossible, or at least a stubborn demonstration requiring Herculean effort.

I have welcome every beautiful moment of it. I don’t yet know how I’ve changed, hopefully for the better, but I suppose that will come out in time. 

One thing is for sure, I can wait in line for hours without getting frustrated. Seriously, I’ve developed the patience of a monk from traveling.

 Thank you Europe for the ride of a lifetime. I loved waking up every single day thinking, “what is my life?” Now it’s time to continue this adventure I call a life, interning with Google in Ann Arbor in the fall! 

In the mean time, are you ready for me Chicago?!

  

Let’s Go!

  

Joy selfie!

 

Camino Afterthoughts

I miss the Camino every day. 

Maybe it’s because I’m reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” or maybe it’s because I’m in Slovakia staring at the Tatra Mountains while they tease me. 

“Come climb me, come play,” they say.

It’s been over a month since I’ve been on the trail, yet every day I still imagine that I’ll wake up, lace up my boots, swing my backpack on and just go. 

All through my lunch today, I stared longingly at two Slovakian hikers sitting a table over. I watched them drink their ice cold beers, knowing how good they tasted after a long day of walking. I couldn’t help but stare at their backpacks that were fuller than mine on the camino. I wanted to ask them where they were hiking, what gear they had, and silly enough, if I could please come with.

I had to stop looking because one of them started to wink at me, and I’m afraid I gave the wrong impression.

Walking the Camino gave me purpose and clarity. I had a clear mission every single day, met inspiring folks left and right and I got to be outdoors for hours on end. The views of the Galician mountains, reminiscent of scenes from The Hobbit, and the poppy covered fields of the Meseta, which made me curse while I sweated and blistered, are burned into my mind. 

It’s kind of like childbirth, I suppose, which is another topic I know nothing about. It’s painful and uncomfortable at times, but when you look back at it, none of that matters. You remember how beautiful it was and how much joy it gave you.

I suppose that’s a good thing, to miss it. It’s motivating. It helps you create goals, my newest being to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and one day complete the triple crown of hiking. That is, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian trail and the Continental Divide Trail. 

I already have the backpack and the boots. And hell, my two missing toenails are probably never going to grow back anyways. 

The Triple Crown. A combined 7,900 glorious miles of smelly sweat and bloody feet, across 22 states. What a dream. 

Yes, I think I’ll do that. 

Come climb me! -Tatra Mountains