Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Start of My Gap Year

It's almost been a week since I've been back from Italy, but it's felt like both a millennium and a mere day.

I hit the ground running when I landed back onto North American ground, and within 48 hours, I had gotten a haircut, checked out a book from the library, bought some art supplies, picked up my mom from the airport, sent in 6 job applications, and started cleaning out my belongings. The next day, I surprised myself (but nobody else) by falling asleep at 2 in the afternoon and sleeping like the dead for 3 hours. 

It's been slightly less hectic since then -- but not by much.

It's a wonder how many things you suddenly want to toss out and reorganize once you've comfortably survived with a mere fraction of your belongings. It's as if my life is split: before Italy and after Italy. I've turned into one of those minimalistic creatures who have all these grand plans. At first, it seemed like I'd reached too far and nothing would get done.

But then I got these two books that launched my gap year off perfectly: Do More Great Work (by a plethora of authors) and Love Does (Bob Goff). I finished Love Does yesterday -- and wow. You don't have to agree with every line he says, but this man and his attitude towards life is pretty incredible and insightful. I haven't read through a book this fast since high school - so I highly, highly recommend taking a look. It's a fast read, full of short stories that will cause you not to just nod and agree, but want to do something about it. 

I've been making a list of dreams, goals, and whimsies for this year, and I already know firsthand -- it's going to take an almost infinite amount of self-motivation to live this year with no regrets. But I'm acquiring a buddy system, a support group, that even though it sometimes seems like I'm alone in this process, I need to remember that I'm not.

I'm also not one to care much about what the rest of the world thinks of me and my life, but for some reason, I always land the privilege of hearing its opinion anyway. Yesterday morning, I went to the dentist's, and predictably, the first get-to-know-you question was: "So what are you up to these days -- school? Or are you working?"

The hygienist gave me a sympathetic look at the mention of my job search. The dentist congratulated me with his typical silly demeanor, but yet with serious undertones, told me to goof off and enjoy it while it lasts. But with the wisdom of a old grandfather, he gave his stamp of approval at the mention of PA school. Later that day, during a pseudo-phone interview for a job, I'm asked about where my paintings can be found, and the recruiter came to his own conclusion: that I was a scientist who was trying to start up her art business but needed some extra cash.

I'm tempted to shake my head and smile, but I have a feeling I'll be doing that a lot this year. We'll let the world think what it thinks. Meanwhile, we'll see where life takes me with my paintings, jobs, and PA school.

Cheers to unknown adventures and the unlimited possibilities in life.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Short Update: in the midst of transition

First off, sincere apologies to my faithful friends and readers for neglecting this blog. I've gone off the grid for a while, as my study abroad program officially ended a little while back. (I think this also means I've graduated?) I've inadvertently taken a short break from blogging, and have been doing plenty of reminiscing and transitioning, throwing in some traveling in between.  

I'm beyond happy to announce that I've finished submitting my PA school applications. The GRE scores have also been sent in, and although I'm quite a bit poorer, there's a massive relief off my shoulders. Next step: waiting. Although it can be second nature at times to compartmentalize this application process as something merely on a to-do list, I am reminded that I have chosen this path with much deliberation, and I'm excited for what the future will bring. 

Airports are great places to reflect, and my flight back to the United States will depart in a few hours. I think I can say that I've officially started my gap year, and I plan on making a list of goals for this year (however short or long it ends up being) to remind myself of why I'm taking this year "off" (but not really...) and how I'm going to get things done. 

Right now, I'm a mix of thankful, exhausted, nostalgic, frustrated while walking on uncertain ground. I have no set plans yet on what I'm doing upon coming back - aside from moving back in  with the parentals - but I think I simply need to accept this unknown as part of the adventure. Although, I just submitted a job application while waiting for a flight, so... cheers to being productive. 

I wasn't sure what to expect for my final day in Italy, but it went so horribly wrong that it I became superstitious and believed it was my time to leave. I ate probably the equivalent of one piece of bread that day, from lack of appetite because I threw up three times (am I getting too personal with this blog now?), ran around insanely with my mother to catch five different trains and two flights (don't ask how this is possible in a day), got frustrated with the lack of available and free bathrooms, ate the worst Italian food I'd ever had, almost lost it when the nonexistent concept of lines proved more evident than ever and prevented me from obtaining ice cream, and then at the airport in Rome (only you, Italy) does the gate number not show up until half an hour before your plane takes off. I encountered some of the rudest Italians I'd ever met so far, and in the south of Italy, the only thing I could understand and say was, Ciao, due to the extreme differences in the Italian language. This is a concise way of describing that unreal day. If I am was a weaker person, I would have wondered if my whole time spent in Italy helped me understand any of the Italian culture (or language for that matter) that day. 

I don't know, but I think I'm ready to come back to my home in Ohio, where I don't have to think twice about where I'm using the bathroom next, or how to catch the next train, or finding cheap good food. I'll be able to cook, set my own transportation schedule, and be back in the familiar. 

I've definitely changed, and learned some valuable life lessons along the way. But I'm ready to be home. 

I hope to be in touch and see you all soon.
Cheers from London, tutti! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Taking a Deliberate Leap: my graduation road trip

Last week, I can honestly say that I made one of the most courageous, scary, deliberate, crazy, and spontaneous decisions of my life. I realized I had six days off before my first final exam here, and I debated taking a short trip to celebrate my impeding graduation. I followed through with this idea, managed to persuade a fellow student to join me, and turned this trip into a graduation present for myself. 

Looking back now, it doesn't really sound like a huge deal, but renting a car, driving in Italy through parts relatively unknown to non-Italians (and even some Italians), while not yet 21, was really nerve-racking. Everything was booked the day before, and reading up on how driving works in Italy would give most of us a panic attack. We stayed in agriturismos, which are places in the country, similar to B&Bs, and I learned how to trust, rely on, forgive, and travel with another person. We visited cities, coasts, beaches, medieval towns, the countryside, and off-the-grid areas of hot springs with sulfur water -- all in three and a half days!

Traveling within Tuscany opened my eyes so much and added another dimension to my perspective of Italy. To visit places where Italians go on vacation (versus tourists) made me appreciate the beauty and variety of Italy's landscapes even more. I've already started painting pictures from this trip and can't wait to start so many new series. 

Here's some photos from the trip. Have a glimpse of Tuscany, which does have stunning hills when the light falls across, but is so much more... 

{the regional park of Maremma} 

{the agriturismo I stayed at for 2 nights -- beautiful. You could pick strawberries and eat them right there}

{from our car window: the beauty in being able to stop at anytime, anywhere when you have a car} 

{this was a ghost town since it rained earlier in the day. Looks like the Caribbean?}

{the last town we stayed in: Paganico. No one spoke a word of English here :)} 

{Porto Santo Stefano -parking struggles, Porto Ercole, and Talamone}

{impromptu visit to a festival in Magliano in Toscana, a medieval city built on a hill}
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...