Party in the USA

Wow, the end of the year already!  (Well, almost) I know it’s clichéd when people say good times fly past, but it’s true.  Flying away from Canada today, I remembered the feeling of the girl who, 8 months ago, was flying away for my year abroad, not knowing what to expect, and it felt so close I could touch it.

I’m actually in JFK airport just now trying to get internet connection, but there’s none so I suppose you’ll get this when I get back to my hotel!  I’m sitting waiting for my sister to join me from Scotland and can’t wait since I haven’t seen her in about 9 months – 9 MONTHS!!

Leaving Kingston was a strange, overwhelming bombardment of everything: celebrations, finishing exams and essays, packing, sending stuff home in boxes, saying goodbye to those who left early, tying loose ends here and there, cancelling phone accounts, selling furniture and possessions not likely to fit into my suitcase, good times, sadness and excitement for what comes next.  The most amazing part of being abroad for me was meeting such amazing people who I hope to keep in touch with for a long time.  Ironically, this best part makes you extra emotional when it comes to parting ways.  The great thing is, though, although it’s hard to say goodbye to the people who have become like a family and the place which has become your home, there’s the lovely feeling of knowing what you had together was special and that you have friends all over the world who you can visit.  There’s also the magical miracle of SKYPE!!!

Everyone left in a scattered kind of way really, whenever their exams were finished and they’d planned their travels.  Most people are going travelling for 3-4 weeks now, a great deal going to the West Coast of Canada, some to the East, some to the North, and some travelling around America.  Some people have gone with friends they’ve met here and some have family or friends coming out to travel with them.  So, I’m one of the latter and once my sister Lucy and I have spent a few days in New York, we’re heading to Las Vegas where we’re gonna rent a car (after a wee try at a the penny-slots of course) and have a road trip round California for 3 weeks ending in LA, then it’s back to bonnie Scotland for me!

Again, it’s a lot to take in, reflecting on the fantastic times I’ve had this year, as well as some of the harder ones, being sad to leave friends and happy I met them, excited for another trip and also looking forward to going home to see my family and friends, who are at this point already demanding trips to see them and time to catch up – and the same in return.  It’s like it’s got to that point that your year’s finished, so you feel like everything should be finished and go back to square one, but there’s a little more to go luckily for me!

So if I had to summarise this year, it would be that it was extremely educational, exciting, challenging, enjoyable, interesting, enlightening experience, all crammed into such a short period of time in your life – It’s like an intensive course on life and yourself.  You find out how you handle yourself in situations, how to be independent, learn about numerous cultures, lifestyles, countries, languages and your own culture and outlook on life.  It is a learning experience in every way possible, as well as giving you such an incredible opportunity to travel so widely whilst living the student lifestyle.  In every way it is worth going.

Personally, one thing being abroad has taught me (amongst many, many other things) is that more is possible than you realise.  There have been so many things I have done this year spontaneously which I would have never considered before, and I’ve learned to manage my time effectively so that I can mix studying for University with travelling and discovering new things.

One of the things I liked most and laughed most about were the differences in colloquial lingo.  Words like ‘gutted,’ ‘chuffed,’ ‘ned,’ ‘numpty,’ ‘hoodie,’ ‘trousers,’ ‘fresher’s week,’ and ‘bin’ all caused a great deal of hilarity for me and others.

I think the hardest part for me was being away from my support network.  It was challenging to deal with stresses or worries without my sister at hand, but I have to say that Skype is a brilliant fix for that problem.  It’s fantastic and has certainly helped me to get over these difficulties.  Also, you’ll realise that you build a family where you are as well, so when I needed someone there were plenty of people here in the same boat willing to help you out or can understand what you’re going through.  All in all though I think I was pretty lucky with my time here as this happened pretty rarely.  I don’t think you can help but miss your friends or family when you’re away for such a long time!

Right, well, I’ll give an update on my travels as soon as I can get some internet connection, but for now, I’ve got to meet my sis coming off her plane…6 minutes and counting – WOO HOO!

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