Every morning (or afternoon depending on what time I’ve managed to pass out) for the past week I have woken up and realized that I’m not dreaming. Whether I’m on a plane, train, automobile or in bed, I wake up thinking that my life can’t be real right now. In fact, from the moment I got accepted to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David I have had a hard time accepting that this is real. That this is happening. I’ve been so excited about going to school in Wales that at one point I stubbed my toe and ran around my house bleeding because there wasn’t any other reaction that could have expressed how stoked I was. My toe healed, my summer quickly passed, and the fact that I was leaving for Wales became more and more real.
Then last Sunday happened. I’d spent all week packing, unpacking, and re-packing my bags trying to narrow down my life to fit into one carry-on suitcase and a hockey bag. My life can usually be packed up and fit into a pick-up truck. Except this time, a pick-up truck wasn’t an option. So I agonized, I stuffed, screamed, cried, and rolled my life up to fit into two pieces of luggage. Finally I was ready to leave home. I wasn’t as ready as I thought I would be, but I was ready enough. My dad loaded my bags into the back of the truck and I climbed into the backseat behind my mom and I tried not to cry as we drove away from my childhood home.
“Au revoir, house.”
My parents, my sister, and my Aunty Deb all came to the airport to see me off. With hugs, tears, and promises that I would check in as I flew across the world they left me at the Kamloops airport and I wondered what the hell was wrong with them. I was scared shitless (I literally couldn’t poop until I landed in London), and I was shocked that this thing was really happening. I sat in the airport and I cried and questioned the sanity of what I was doing.
After over 20-hours of travel on 3 planes, 2 trains, and a bus, I arrived in Lampeter and I imagine I looked like a very sorry and pathetic creature as I dragged my luggage up to the main gate. I was exhausted, I wanted to cry, and I possibly needed a reality check to be sure that I wasn’t going to wake up after my hellish travels. What I got instead was a smiling and friendly girl with a bright smile who instantly offered to watch my luggage so I wouldn’t have to drag it anywhere else so I could go find my room keys. I nearly cried in gratitude (this trip has made me realize that I’m a bit of a crier) when this wonderful girl dropped what she was doing and helped me find my way to my new home.
By the time I arrived at my new room I had been surrounded by this amazing circle of people who were friendly, supportive, and welcoming. Yes, I wanted to cry about that too. Jet lagged, emotionally spent, and incredibly happy to have finally arrived I wanted nothing more than to curl up and sleep for at least a week. Instead I heard my name being called out in the hallway and I met one of my flatmates. Before I knew what was happening, I was off and running with my life here in Lampeter.
Due to the fact that I arrived late (thanks to some troubles I had with my Visa application), I spent my first few days playing catch up and being extremely jet lagged. Besides the very strange urge I get to cry at the drop of a hat, I have been awed at how instantly friendly and supportive everyone is. Seriously, this place is almost like Cheers: everyone has either known my name or they knew I would be arriving and they were waiting for me with smiles and open arms. My first full day on campus I was enrolled into my courses, given a tour of the campus (there’s a Starbucks on campus!), received my student ID, and ate the equivalent of Thanksgiving in a bun. If I hadn’t been sitting with the perfectly lovely girl who had helped me jump through all the hoops I needed to get through that day, I probably would have sat in the little cafe and orgasmed over my Thanksgiving in a bun and mocha frappacino. I think my mother would be proud of the restraint and good manners I demonstrated in keeping my pleasurable climaxes to myself.
Not only have I started to settle into my newest hobo hole, but I’ve gotten to travel off campus for a trip to Cardiff. Initially I was hesitant to go because I’d just spent a ridiculous amount of time traveling, but I’m also just a country bumpkin at heart and tend to be easily overwhelmed in big cities (read: I was afraid I might cry) and get lost. However, there were castles and manors involved so I put on my big girl boots and went.
Our first stop was Saint Ffagans. It was an outdoor museum where we were able to walk up to the manor and explore the inside. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the inside, but I can assure you that I was impressed. I’m personally in awe of the fact that this place has been standing all of these years collecting stories, spiders, and who knows what else within its walls.
After Saint Ffagans we carried on to Cardiff. I honestly thought that Vancouver, BC was a big and busy city until I saw the streets of Cardiff. Holy throngs of people, Batman! The city was fairly buzzing and I felt as though I was swimming through an ocean of human beings as I weaved my way up and down the streets. I’m sure I could have better spent my time exploring the city, but I kept getting turned around and lost. I would mean to go down one street to look at one thing and then I would suddenly be back in a place that I’d already been. Eventually I managed to buy a hair straightener and a few other essentials that I needed for my room and I made my way back to where we were going to be picked up to go home.
It was on the steps of the National Museum that I discovered a -luxury that we don’t have at home: City-wide WiFi. While the rest of the city carried on around me I called home and told my mom and dad about castles, busy cities, and buying a purple loofa.
Now it’s Monday. I’ve gone grocery shopping, bought a dress that I adore, and I’m hungry. I can honestly say that with the help of all of the wonderful people that I’ve met this past week that not only am I ready for classes to start, but I’m fully ready to take on all of the shenanigans and challenges that the next few months have to offer me. In the meantime, I’m happy to wake up in my new (and tiny!) bed and convince myself that I am for surely in Wales and this whole studying abroad thing is for surely happening.