So... I'm currently about to fly over the Atlantic Ocean.
January 9, 2019.
I haven't spoken about this on my blog yet, but I'll be studying abroad this semester in Scotland! This is the second semester of my second year of university, and I've been accepted to a study at the University of Edinburgh.
But what's been happening leading up to this? Where have I been all semester? This past fall was wild. I'm still processing it – a few days ago, I wrote 4,000 words in my journal trying to wrap my head around the last five months – but it was amazing.
I took some amazing classes. Publishing, philosophy, entrepreneurship, international literature, and a writing education course where I taught creative writing workshops for middle school students. I can't explain how much I loved these classes, and how well they fit together. This fall was also the time I was in the middle of publishing Project Canvas, and guess which of these classes apply to that project? Basically all of them. It was exactly what I want my college experience with courses to be and more: interesting, relevant to my passions, applicable to my daily life, and taught by some incredible instructors.
I published a book. Along with with one of my best friends, Olivia, and a global community of other young writers. Project Canvas was in the works for two years, and we published it on November 15th, 2018! And it's not over. We're continuing to connect writers around the world through the book and the blog (where you can submit a practical or inspirational article). Getting to know the 90+ Project Canvas contributors and editors and promoters and the rest of the team has been...an experience that's shaped the last two years, and the direction of my future, most likely. I learned so much about communicating with people, how to create real, high-quality work, and how to stay (mostly) sane while managing all the behind-the-scenes that goes into publishing a book. I understand more of what draws me to the publishing industry, and what parts bore or even frustrate me (@formatting, you're terrible but also kind of addicting?). In the end, Project Canvas has had a huge impact on my life and it continues to be an incredible blessing.
I worked multiple jobs. Like four, if you count "Publisher/Head Editor of Project Canvas" as a job, which you probably should. I also worked on editing/formatting/publishing an ESL curriculum as a freelance job (that was just published this morning, actually! We love doing things right down to the wire). I continued to work as an usher at the local auditorium, which resulted in me getting paid to watch the Broadway show Les Miserables three and a half times in one week. 10/10 would recommend working at a theatre.
One of the best parts of fall 2018, however, was the Iowa Writers' Workshop. I starting working here at the beginning of the semester as an office assistant. It's surreal to work at a place I dreamt of for years (the Workshop is a renowned MFA program for poetry and fiction, and one of the reasons I ended up in Iowa in the first place), and I really enjoy being around all the people there (shoutout to Deb and Jan–if you're reading this, don't let the plants die while I'm gone! ;))
All in all...it was a lovely semester. It may have been the busiest semester of my life, but I wasn't as overwhelmed as I normally would have been with the level of stress I was under. Gotta mention my amazing friends. This semester, they watched sunsets with me, had many deep and hilarious conversations, played hours and hours of games, and were the best friends I could ask for. So now, 2019 is starting, and though I'm leaving the fall semester behind, I know I'm going to remember it as one of the best in my life.
2 0 1 8 I N A N U T S H E L L
reading goal: 30 books // Actually read: 30 books!
favorite book read: rude of myself to make me choose just one. I choose to rebel. Some of my favorite books were Rainbow Rowell's Carry On and Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows duology!
places travelled: the middle of Missouri (Spring break trip!), Wisconsin (Ultimate Frisbee tournament) Chicago (Hozier concert that I didn't go to), New Mexico (family vacation)
number of identity/life/existential crises: probably over 2345678, but that's okay.
amount of deep self-discovery and change: a lot! I'm becoming a more chill person, going with the flow, and figuring out how to live my life in a way that's best for me and those around me. The biggest revelation that shouldn't have been a revelation: I'm still an introvert and I need a lot more alone time than I'd guess.
words for the year: peace. turmoil. love. fear. joy. doubt. trust.
this year in writing: in 2017, I finished a novel. This year, I've mostly just been writing poetry and exploring the creative non-fiction genre. Lots of sporadic journaling.
overall rating: 12/10. This year was so good to me. It was up and down, often heartbreakingly confusing and painful, but it was a beautiful year of a lot of loving and growing and learning.
2 0 1 9 G O A L S
book challenge: 45 books this year
daily reading: read a page a day
mind: meditate for 15 minutes a day
body: do yoga daily when possible. weekly runs.
heart: trust God with your life, trust yourself with your emotions,
reconnect with the Bible, LOVE YOURSELF, LOVE OTHERS
food: less meat, more environmentally friendly food.
also have fun with cooking for yourself! be healthy, child.
vague: write more letters. less electronic, more paper.
keep listening to amazing music.
Now that you're all caught up with my life....
I'm going to Scotland!
It feels surreal. I think I'm officially flying over Canada right now, according to the high-tech video display on the seat-back in front of me. It also tells me I'm 39000 feet in the air, that it's -42.7 °F outside, and that I have 2840 miles left. Five hours till London.
While I've travelled internationally before, this is my first time traveling solo, ever! The day is going remarkably well. After boarding, I discovered that the plane is 85% full of a group of students going to a study abroad university in London! And 5 out of the six students in my immediate vicinity are theatre students. Wow. It's like being in college. Except in the air. Air college. Anyway, it definitely eased my nerves because 100 students crammed into rows of seats? Very familiar. They don't feel like strangers in the same way that fellow plane-goers do. The girl behind me keeps laughing abruptly at a movie I can't hear, the girl next to me has a cute unicorn sticker on her phone, and some of them are even from the state of Iowa. Blessed.
I don't quite know what's gonna happen when I land in London, and eventually reach Edinburgh later tomorrow. (Like, I know where I'm going.) But...will my brain explode? Will it seem normal? Will I be incredibly jet-lagged? These are the things no one knows. But I shall soon know, and I'll be here shortly with more (Scotland-related) pictures and accounts from what I'm guessing is going to be another wild, wildly-amazing semester.
In case it wasn't mildly apparent, this blog shall be somewhat transformed into an account of my travels for the duration of this semester. If you read this blog regularly, you should already know that I'm consistently inconsistent, and you never know what you're gonna get. So this shouldn't phase you at all. But I'll still be writing about writing (I hope to start a longer project while abroad), and probably talking some about books. I started Stephen King's On Writing on the last flight, which I've been wanting to read for foreeeever, so you might hear about that. And if this post is long, it's cause I haven't been writing much lately and I guess there was a lot to process! Woo! Write what you need to write, kids!
If you want to keep up with my music tastes during this semester, go follow my Spotify playlist! This is how I organize my music. I just spend a few months, or even years, throwing songs into a single playlist, until I get tired of scrolling to the bottom to find my recent adds. They're usually songs that I have on repeat for a few days, then look back over fondly for the rest of the year.
Thanks for being around for my wild times!
How was your year? What are you looking forward to in 2019? Have you been to the United Kingdom? What would you recommend doing/seeing? And a question that might benefit me: what do you do when you want to write, but don't have ideas?