Tuesday, June 3, 2014

This Is The End

Listen up ya'll I'm about to get mushy.
I decided that a long blog post would be better than a 5 page Facebook status.
You can all thank me later.

So this is it.
The last day.
I just finished my last final exam (crushed it, hopefully) and now it's just a waiting game until I board my plane tomorrow.
I don't even know how to begin describing or explaining what I am feeling right now.
The excitement and anticipation of coming home is mixed and confused with the absolute devastation of leaving this city and the people I have fell in love with.
I don't know what to say to my friends as I am about to leave them.
It's more than I will miss them.
It's more like I will miss the part of my soul I am leaving with each of them.
They all hold a piece of me now and when we are together I feel whole.
These people have been through one of the biggest changes in my life.
I feel like I have made lifetime friends because we all share the similar passion of traveling no matter how different we may be.
I just need them to know that I love them with my whole heart and that there is always a friend in me.

Now I know some people at home may be reading this and be thinking, "Well why don't we make you feel whole?"
Trust me, you do!
It's just a different kind of wholesomeness.
When I am with the people at home I feel safe and secure in the familiarity of love and family.
Being away from everyone these past 6 months has been indescribable.
There hasn't been one day where I don't think of home and how much I miss it.
Iberia has been and always will be my home.
When I think of home my heart sings because I know that's where I truly belong.
Maybe not permanently, but my heart and soul will always be holding onto that town.
I have learned so much about myself while being here.
I know 100% without a single doubt that I am a country girl through and through.
This won't stop me from exploring other cities, but I don't see myself living in one indefinitely.
I am so thankful that I have such awesome and supporting friends, family, and community who push me to go after my goals.
I love that I know that there will always be someone I know somewhere asking me how I'm doing.
Community is something I miss the most from home.
I am beyond ecstatic to get back to the good ole USA.

Now I kind of want to warn people what to expect when I come home.
When I left I told myself that I wouldn't change that much.
Don't worry life and reality shut down that thought pretty dang quick.
I just need people at home to understand that I won't be the same person anymore.
I have different views than when I left.
I have more of a cultural look at things and I am actually very thankful of that.
If you notice that I don't always agree with an American point of view, please be patient.
It's just I have seen how others live and how other governments work.
I still love the US but I have realized that there are many many flaws in our government and society.
I have also become more open minded about things and I may get a little upset when I don't feel understood for my point of view.
I can't help the stubbornness, I tried and I lost.
Don't think that all I want to talk about is myself and my experiences.
I will be MORE THAN happy to tell you all about it because I have stories galore.
But I want to hear how all of you are and what you have been up to since I left.
Your lives are important to me as well.
Don't forget I missed out on a lot being gone and I will want to feel included in it too!
Try and remember that this was my life for 6 months.
When we talk and spend time together I will compare things to what happened here.
Don't get mad and understand that I do the same thing here with things from home.
It's our human nature to always compare and contrast things.
Oh and please don't call this a vacation.
This wasn't a vacation for me.
Sure some of my trips made looked like that but trust me I never had the vacation state of mind.
I was traveling and learning the entire time.
Not to mention I was in actual school while here.

I know this may seem excessive but this is what has been running through my mind for about the past month now.
I hope everyone can read this and understand where I am coming from and where I will be heading in the future.
Now aren't you glad I didn't make it a Facebook post? :)
Sadly there will be no until next time.
This is the end and the beginning at the same time.
Isn't it beautiful?


Friday, May 16, 2014


A strong desire to travel

I was on my way back from Brighton last weekend and a question from our London coordinator got me to thinking.
I was talking about how excited I am to go home, but how living in London has changed my views so much.
She then asked me a question that I haven't been able to get out of my head.
"Do you think you have lost your wanderlust now that you have studied abroad?"
My immediate answer was "No! Of course not!"
Later on that night I kept coming back to this conversation.
I made myself take a look at where I'm headed in life and to think about if I will ever lose my wanderlust.

I rehashed this conversation with my aunt during a Skype session and she made a very good point.
She said at my age and this point in my life I want to see the world, but at her age she wants to vacation.
I thought it was so interesting because when you think about it they're not really the same thing.
There are those who travel and those who vaca.
So then I started thinking about what are the differences.
When you travel you are going for the experience.
Most likely this is a never ending adventure without many breaks.
You are constantly doing and seeing.
When you vacation you are escaping away from responsibilities.
You usually spend more cash so that you have to make little efforts throughout the day.
When you travel, you are on a budget and everyone knows it (Hello hostels!)
There are many other differences between the two and some may disagree.
I would be more than confident to say that I have been travelling for the past 6 months. 

So after much speculation and careful thinking.
No, I have not lost my wanderlust.
If anything studying abroad has created this insatiable hole in my soul that can only be satisfied with new adventures and new places.
I now know that I want to travel the world.
I want to see the world. 
I want to experience things outside of my comfort zone. 
I want to gain a further appreciation and understanding for other cultures. 
I want to have stories so crazy nobody would ever believe them. 
I want to use my experiences to help others. 
I want to road trip with my friends across America just because we can.
I want to go to Africa and work with children. 
I want to spend the night in a jungle, preferably one that won't have spiders. 
I want to hold a baby gorilla and have it cling to my arms and my heart forever.
I want to visit temples in parts of Asia. 
I want to visit a native tribe and learn something new from them. 
I want to meet new people who will become a part of my life, even if it is for a short while. 
My point is that I'm not done travelling. 
When I come home I hope that I am preparing for the next adventure no matter what it may be. 
I never want to lose my sense of wanderlust. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm Going To Miss. . .

6 weeks.
I only have 6 weeks out of 6 months left here in London.
I can't believe the things I have experienced while being abroad.
I honestly wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world.
My life is forever changed because of this opportunity.
I am thanking God every single day for the chances I get to take.
I know when I am missing home all I can think about are the things that I miss from the U.S..
But there are so many things I will miss once I leave London.
I figure I should tell the world so they know what kind of awesomeness I am leaving behind to come home.

1. My friends!
The people I have met while abroad are some of the greatest most unique people I will ever know.
When you come over here you are forced to make friend.
It's that or hate your life.
I am so lucky to have met the best of the best.
I will never forget these humans.

2. Caramel Waffles
It's a UK thing.

3. The pubs
The atmosphere in these places is so much fun.
Plus it is a great way to people watch.

4. The milk at Tesco Express.
Let me explain.
This milk is only 1 GBP for 4 pints.
That's so cheap for London.
 I buy two at a time.

5. Being able to walk anywhere.
I am in walking distance from the greatest parts of London.
How can you not love that?

6. Public Transportation
So I do miss my own car and being able to just drive.
But I also miss only paying less than $4 for a 30 minute trip.
Not buying gas is amazing.

7. Travel opportunities
Here it is SO EASY to travel to other countries.
Also, it's pretty cheap.
In the U.S. we can travel to other states but it's not the same.
While here I have been to 9 countries so far.
That's insane and completely amazing.

8. Primark
I am not even going to try and lie to myself.
I will miss this place.

9. Pret A Manger
This is like the UK version of a Panera, except slightly less awesome.
It's still my go to for picnics.

10. Susannah
This is our on-site coordinator in London.
This woman was an angel with us KEI kids.
She always makes sure we are getting the most for our money and the best experiences we can have.
She is always looking for ways to help us.
This trip wouldn't have been the same without her.

These are just some of the things I will miss when I leave London.
It's hard to list them all because many of them are material things.
I can't even explain to others back home how it is.
The only ones who can really understand are my friends here.
They share the same feelings and emotions I do about leaving.
All I can say is that I like who I've become while living abroad.
I'm going to miss it all so much.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Moment

I have been doing so much thinking lately.
I debated sharing this with people but I feel like I need to.
I had this incredible moment in Greece while sitting on the edge of a cliff.
I was sitting there with my feet hanging over the water and rocks below.
I had my moment.
Let me explain this to you.
Before I came over to England I thought about the things I wanted to get out of my trip.
These things varied from meeting One Direction to having an authentic pub experience.
One of the things I wanted was to have my moment.
I didn't know what kind of moment it would be or where it would be.
But sitting on that cliff in Santorini I had my moment.

I was sitting there staring out across the water and it was endless.
I could see nothing but water for miles.
Then I would look down at the waves crashing against the rocks.
This in itself was a huge feat because I am TERRIFIED of heights.
While sitting there I just felt at peace and it was so surreal.
All I could think about was how this doesn't happen to girls from Iberia, Missouri.
I could have never pictured this moment in my life.
I never would have guessed it would happen to me.
But it did.
As I was sitting there I just kept thinking about how God has blessed me more than I deserve.
I mean here I was doing something most people I know will never do.
How do you not feel humbled in that moment?

Then I realized how insignificant I am in this huge world.
At the same time I realized that I am more significant than I know.
What I do matters, and so does how I do it.
Sitting on that cliff you think about how vast the world really is.
I am one in 7 billion.
What makes me so special that God gave me this opportunity to explore a different part of the world?
Why did he lay it on my heart to pursue studying abroad?
I saw it in this moment.
Looking out I got to see the beauty that God has created for us.
It is truly amazing.
No picture or description can give you that moment.
I won't even try.

My moment was one of clarity.
How bad are my problems really?
I have my faith and the freedom to express it to others without persecution.
I have my family, no matter how scattered it may be, they are there.
I have friends who will support me and have my back in every situation.
I have myself, I know what I am capable of and I know what I want.
I also know that I will do everything to achieve my dreams and goals.

We all had moments up on that cliff.
It hit us all at a different time and in a different way.
But my moment was my moment.
Nobody shared it with me and nobody got to have a part of that moment.
I was silent and still.
This may be the greatest moment of my entire trip.
It beats all the hangouts, nights out, celeb run-ins, trips, and souvenirs.
This was my moment.

Until next time,
xoxoxo Sam

Friday, March 28, 2014

Halfway There

So I'm trying to keep up with my blog and I'm currently looking to do anything but my American Politics essay.
Procrastination at its best.
I am now halfway done with my semester abroad.
I cannot believe how fast time has flown.
I feel like it was just yesterday when I was arriving and settling in.
When I look back at everything I have done since I have arrived I am astonished and thankful.
I have had opportunities of a lifetime and I can't imagine what the next half holds.
I also cannot believe how easily and quickly I caught on to navigating one of the world's biggest cities.
Coming from such a small town this was a huge feat for me.
I could actually live here if you know I was filthy rich and didn't hate crowds and cement.
I came here with so many misconceptions of England and London.
Sure there are things where I was right about, but I want to focus on the myths that I or people back home believe.

1. Contrary to what we believe Brits do not walk around saying "cheerio" or "bloody hell".
 I'm sorry to break all your hearts but the most common phrases are things like "cheers".

I need to make this point for all the boys out there (Steven Mallow) who believe that they drink warm beer.
Their beer or ales are actually at cellar temperature which is about 40 degrees F.
This is relatively cool and honestly it's better because you can taste the flavor more.

3. That if you travel to London you will get taken.
Yeah I didn't get taken nor have I felt like I was going to.
Except for the brief instant when I was walking to the bus station at 3 am by myself.

4. All they eat is fish n' chips. Even though this is one of their most well-known foods it is not the only thing they eat.
The food here is very diverse and delicious.
Indian food is actually incredibly popular.

5. They hate Americans.
On the contrary, they LOVE us.
Our accents, our food, our money, and our politics.
I have not found one person who says they hate America.

Now these are just a few myths about things I have learned living here.
It is incredible all the things I have learned in such a short amount of time.
I hope after I leave that this isn't the end of my visits to London.
It is an incredible historical and culture packed city.
If you ever have the chance to come to England, DO IT!

Until next time,
xoxoxoxo Sam

Thursday, March 27, 2014

There Are No Whales In Wales

Hello everyone!
It has been quite awhile since I have posted.
I have just been so busy with school and trips.
This entire month has been filled with adventures and plans.
This past weekend was another chance for me to tick off another country on my list.
We went to Wales on Saturday and Sunday.
Basically the whole trip was a bus ride and no sleep.
It was awesome.

We started out by meeting at the tube station to get on our coach bus.
Because of our early start I slept the entire time until we got to our first part.
(Let me just pause for a minute and say that I don't have a single clue to where we were the entire weekend.
I know we were in Wales and that's it.
I was extremely disoriented because every time I woke up on the bus I was in a different city or town.
So please don't ask where I went in Wales because I will not be able to tell you. )
The first place we went were Roman barracks.
It was cool but there wasn't much left so you really had to use your imagination.
I imagined myself not falling down the muddy hills.
I was successful.
Then we walked over to a Roman amphitheater.
This was so cool!
We all pretended we were gladiators and Kings (or Queens) of the world.
I also got to climb parts of it.
Basically I was Roman.
You cannot tell me any different.
Then it was back on the bus to somewhere new.

Our next stop was a castle in another city ( I told you I have no idea where I was).
I know the name of the castle was Caerphilly.
Don't quote me on that because I read the sign in Welsh and it could very well be goat or something.
Anyways this castle was so cool.
Honestly if I keep seeing castles I am going to refuse to come home until someone builds me one of my own and names me the princess.
I don't think that's an outrageous demand.
I did have an issue with the small spiral staircases.
The fear of heights and claustrophobia kicked in big time.
But we had fun and I watched some of my friends dance around like idiots while talking in a British accent.
It was a jolly good time.
And you guessed it, back on the bus!

The next place we went was the Museum of Welsh Life.
This was pretty cool because it is set up like an old small town.
It even had their own sheep.
The lambs were seriously the highlight of my life.
They were cute and cuddly, but I couldn't get close to them.
Also this museum was set in the woods so I felt like I was taking a walk back home.
We weren't here for long and I mostly stood outside and stared at the lambs.
Then back on the bus!

Our final destination was our hotel!
Thank goodness because we were all exhausted!
We had free time as soon as we checked in and the night was ours.
I ended up having dinner with Taylor, Natasha, and Tori.
Then we had a night out on the town.
I saw some pretty sweet characters in Swansea that night.
This included an Elmo, a group of Smurf women, a group of pirate women, women dressed as Disney princesses, and tons of CUTE boys dressed in togas.
It was quite an interesting night and turned out to be one of the best nights I have had abroad.
A huge thanks to my sweet girls for that because it could of been awful.
It was a late night and an even earlier morning.
Back to the bus!

We had breakfast at the hotel and let me just say it was probably one of the best hotel brekkies (I say this, deal with it) I have had in like forever.
Our first stop after we left Swansea ( I remembered the city) was a coal mine.
It is called Big Pit and then it has a more elaborate name in Welsh that I do not know how to say therefore I do not know it.
We got to go down in the mine 300 feet below the ground.
I was semi-freaking out because our guide told us that it was still an active mine.
This means that we weren't allowed to have any electronics just in case we hit a methane pocket.
I'm 300 feet underground with no escape except this unbearably slow elevator that you can fit 30 people in. Basically my worst nightmare.
I was planning the whole time how I could survive a methane explosion.
Fun fact I learned on my tour, you don't survive it.
See where I'm getting at.
Honestly though it was a really cool experience and our guide was incredible!
He was a sassy and sweet old man.
We all wanted him to be our grandpa.
We did the tour and some walking around then it was back on the bus!

The next place we went was Tintern Abbey.
This is an old monastery and it was gorgeous.
Seriously how they built these beautiful places amazes me.
Even now it is just ruins many of the walls were still standing.
I was in awe and wanted one for myself.
Of course I would call it my castle.
Here they had monks and they basically had no clothes and only got one meal a day.
That's no life for me.
After we toured the Abbey it was time to go home.
Honestly we were all ready and exhausted.
I kept falling asleep on the bus but would wake up when I smacked my head on the window or fell out of my seat.
Before I leave the UK I will master the perfect sleep on a coach bus and plane.

I just want to say thanks to everyone who keeps reading my posts and liking my pictures.
I say I miss home and can't wait to come home, and I do!
But this is a once in a lifetime chance that I will never get again.
I am enjoying every second and loving it here.
I have made friends that I will never forget and I'm lucky that a lot of them are coming home with me.
I will try to post more frequently after I get all my essays done.
Which is exactly what I'm avoiding by writing this post.
This weekend is Oxford and the Cotswolds on Saturday.
Then it's HARRY POTTER STUDIOS on Sunday!
I have been waiting my whole life for this experience.
I plan on drinking my weight in Butterbeer and having a wand-off with Taylor.
Prepare for the pictures.
Then next Friday I'm off to Greece!
You can bet that there will be hundreds of pictures a day.
Thanks for reading all!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Missing Home

Okay, so I said I wouldn't do this but I need to.
I feel like this is the only way I can feel better.
The homesickness has hit me guys.
Hit me hard too.
You want to know what triggered it?
Beautiful weather in London.
How crazy is that?
I should be out enjoying it but I can't because I procrastinated on homework.
Yeah yeah save the lecture.
I had to binge watch Chicago Fire.
I don't regret it.

Seriously though, I am really missing home this weekend.
I just keep thinking that if I was home with this weather about all the things I would be doing.
I would go fishing with my dad.
I would meet my family for lunch at the lake.
I would go visit my Nike fam.
I would sit outside with homemade lemonade, my nook, and the sunshine.
I would go down to the creek with my nieces and play with them.
I would go on a Sonic run with Jess and Caroline blasting our music and acting like the idiots we are.
I would be doing something with someone I love.

I am just really missing home and the things I do when there.
I am craving hearing birds tweeting and Jack barking rather than buses, cars, and sirens.
I know I have no right to complain and trust me I do not in any way regret coming to London.
I never will.
I just needed to share this.
It doesn't help that my flatmates are in Amsterdam this weekend...
That probably isn't helping at all actually.
I'm glad they're having fun though!

I think I need a visit to an animal shelter or farm for a day.
I feel like that is going to be my next Google search.
I just want everyone at home to know that I love and miss them all very much.
I am so thankful for everyone who makes weekly and even daily efforts (Jess) to talk to me and check on me.
You guys are the reason why I know I am so lucky to be here.
It may sound weird, but I am eternally happy that I have people and things that make me so homesick.
I think that says tremendous things about my town and my family.
Now that I got this little homesick session over I'm going to take a deep breath and remember how awesome my life is.
That and the fact that I'm seeing Les Miserables on Broadway this week.
Nobody can be upset about that.
So after you read just take a minute to think about how awesome it is to have a great family and friends around you.
I know I will.