This week has been quite a long one…it’s been a week of two halves. And it has been all about riding the wave…(*spoiler alert* I don’t mean that I’ve been surfing; I’m not THAT Devon, yet…)
Tonight is the first night in over a week that I’ve been home before 9pm; it’s been pretty darn busy this week!
Began with Labor Day which was labour day, and that’s not supposed to be the purpose of the day- in fact it’s supposed to be an opposite, like a Bank Holiday -but after a weekend of auditions (can’t believe that was only a week ago!) I had so much work to do that when we reached Monday, I was unable to choose to do anything else. It was also sooooo hot that the only other activity I undertook was 5 cold showers in one day (when I say it was hot, I’m talking that sticky sweaty heat that makes you have to peel your bottom off the chair…) and managing to leave a biro in the washing machine and getting lovely black ink blotches over my first clothes wash..(yay me!)
Because it may only be second week of ‘school’ here but that didn’t stop one of my professors giving me a book to read and a 5 page assignment in for the second class of semester. That’s before you start on all the other readings for my other 4 classes.
So work stress certainly didn’t help my overall outlook, and I found myself feeling rather low the first half of the week. But I knew it was a wave that just needed to be ridden…
Because it’s only natural that the excitement starts to wear off a little. I knew couldn’t keep going on the absolute euphoria that I’d been experiencing over the last two weeks.
So I found myself experiencing the ‘lonely in a crowd’ syndrome, wondering whether anyone really likes me enough to be close friends, feeling isolated in my homestay and in over 90 degrees heat, unable to sleep leading to the vicious cycle of feeling anxious about not getting enough sleep while knowing how much work I had to do the next day and that I needed to be sleeping, making me more unable to sleep…! It’s amazing the tricks the mind can play, and my mind loves playing those mind tricks of convincing me I am alone and that I think that I think I have more friends than I do…woah those layers; it’s like my own little Inception film…
But hold on a minute! I’ve only been here 2 and a half weeks. It took me at least 2 months to settle into university in first year, and another 2 months to feel really comfortable around my now closest friends. And it took me 2 years of being at Bristol to find all the amazing people I have to rely on in Bristol, those mates I could always message ‘you around for a chat?’ to, and those incredible gems of human beings who sent me off with a little Good Luck book filled with the most wonderful messages I read over this week to remind me of who I am (thank you to everyone who contributed!)
So CHILL OUT ABBIE! (And get your head down, get your essay in and then you can get sociable again without that library guilt…!)
And that’s what I did. Got my assignment in, actually really enjoyed the book I had to read for the essay all about expression of Italian Catholicism in Harlem New York, and after class went for dinner with a classmate I hadn’t spoken to outside of class before. And from there onwards, I’ve had the most wonderful weekend, meeting more lovely people and getting closer to those I know already.
And I absolutely love being a part of an international community. We had a little party of our own after the football game (I’m talking American football!), sharing different dance cultures and catching up after the first two weeks- and it was genuinely such a highlight of my time here so far.
Wednesday evening we had a ‘Taste of Off-Campus’ event which was also a real pick-up mid-week before I went to the library to start and finish my assignment, although when my bag full of all the freebies, information sheets, an off-campus t-shirt and cupcakes that I’d lovingly saved to be eaten later in the library were swept away into a rubbish bag (and by rubbish I mean garbage because don’t get me started on recycling here..), I honestly almost burst into tears then and there…just about held it together!
Thursday evening I found a wonderful small group community and was lovely just to hone in on what’s important in life and why I’m here, and to be reminded that I’m never alone. And another opportunity to meet some more wonderful people I can get to know over the year here in Boston.
Friday was a ‘Night at the Museum’ evening at MacMullen museum which is part of Boston College or has a link to BC. A really powerful exhibition featuring works by Carrie Mae Weems commenting on racial injustice of America. AND wow, I knew the situation was shocking but it really hit home how much basic human rights are being institutionally and fundamentally ignored..and that makes me so incredibly angry and I need to find a way to channel this anger and DO SOMETHING. And today (Sunday) I watched a play called ‘The Niceties’ at the Huntingdon Theatre, one of the most naturalistic plays I’ve ever seen, an incredible script and acting that stirred up so much feeling and emotion in the pit of my stomach when watching it. (Look it up but I’m going to write a full blog account about what I’m learning in American regarding structural violence)
Saturday was ‘Game Day’ which is when the ‘pre-game’ (the standard word for ‘pres’ here) begins in the morning before the match starts at 1. So after a party the night before and a DMC* lasting till 4 in the morning, I found myself back at a party at 11am before the football game. Everyone tailgates outside, which is when people host BBQs and lots of parents come and set up their grills in the parking lot at BC. It creates a great atmosphere and on our way to the Stadium, we were offered some free food from a rival tailgate from Holy Cross, not that BC rivalries are all that important when you’re being offered free food…
I loved the game itself! Carmina Burana is often played by the band, at which point BC do a unified swipe-clap (don’t really know how to explain it!) extending the arms out above the head to cheer the team on. There’s 54 players in an American football team, and I did not mind right behind them all on the front row of the stands! The shoulder pads fashion statement is quite a look..! I can’t say I’m fully versed on the rules of the game, but I stayed beyond half time, which is more than most students do. Although this game was an exhibition for BC, who thrashed Holy Cross 52-14. I wore my free BC t-shirt I picked up at Activities Fair last Friday with pride!
After the game we went and got food at Cleveland Circle, passing the pub I can no longer go into, and then hopped around different student houses, all extremely big and grand and built for frat parties, before I bumped into an international student at the bus stop when walking home and ended up going to the other party 2 hrs early; which was where we had the Latin dance party!
Why did I want to write so honestly here, and give a very basic rundown of the last week?
a) when people ask what I’ve been up to, I’ve realised I haven’t actually given that much info on what I’ve actually been doing, so here’s an overshare!
b) I want to reassure all those whose minds also like trick them into thinking they’re isolated to remember that the mind is a trickster and by telling people you feel isolated, you realise you’re not isolated at all, because you have people to tell…
c) a year abroad is going to be full of waves; we have a lot to think about! I’ll be sitting writing a blog and suddenly realise my bank transfer hasn’t gone through yet and I need to pay my medical insurance (!!!) which has me grappling for my to-do list (you know how I love lists..!) and writing the 12th item under the ‘Important Tasks’ header. But it’s learning how to ride those waves and share those stresses, accept the culture shock and find a way to enjoy the journey and the learning processes, that will make the year so much more rewarding
d) I am now 3 weeks in and that’s another milestone!
*DMC= direct meaningful conversation for my older/American/Chair of a certain Network readers ;’)