a mix of emotions & a lot of thank you’s

I’m finally taking some time to sit down and reflect on my time abroad. It’s crazy, I’ve only been home for just over a month and yet Leeds and my time there feels like it’s a world away.

I guess I start right off the bat with I miss Leeds. I miss the culture, I miss my group of friends, I miss my flat mates, I miss being apart of something different. I miss being a plane or train ride away from the rest of Europe. I miss not being able to explore something new  or a new place everyday. It’s really hard, there are so many things that I associate with my time there. I’ve been pretty close to tears a couple of times thinking about how much fun we all had and knowing that it will never be like that again. To know I never be able to travel Europe for a whole month straight. And, to know that my Monday nights will never live up to Monday night Quids In….. it hurts my heart. But, I know that I will always have the memories, and the pictures to remember my time by.

I wish I could just hop on a plane a go back. And I guess that’s a pretty good indicator of what my time there meant to me. I’m about to get pretty deep here, by my standards, so get ready.

Before I went abroad I was a pretty closed off person. There were some things that happened in my early years of college (I’m so old :() that turned me off to a lot of the typical college things. I didn’t really go out much and when I did I would always find a nice corner to stand in, so I never really enjoyed it. It doesn’t help that I have like zero FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) so I never really felt like I was missing out. And honestly I have to give a huge shout out to all my friends at U of I for putting up with my ridiculousness, because my independence sometimes makes me a real brat.

Ok enough back story. I don’t know if deciding to go abroad and actually going abroad was a huge step outside my comfort zone because I’m a pretty independent really independent person and once I decided to go that was it. I don’t really know who or what to credit for getting me to really open up and just say yes to things. I think it might have been because I truly wanted to make the most of my experience, so that I could look back and be like ‘damn, I had a really good time,’ which I did, lol.

It seemed that in me going to study abroad in Leeds the stars aligned. I’m so glad I said yes to everything I did, even though I might be broke for having doing so. And writing this now I’m finding it very hard to put into words what my study abroad experience meant to me. I truly ‘yoloed it.’

I guess what I really just want to say is thank you….

To my U of I gals, thank you for teaching me to yes to things. For sometimes pushing me a little too far outside my comfort zone because you knew it was good for me. For always picking on me because I can’t even speak American English correctly. For making me laugh uncontrollably for 5 minutes over nothing in particular. For putting up with my crazy person like tendencies. For making me re-learn how to enjoy a night out. And, for being the 3 best people to travel Europe with for 5 months. You 3 are irreplaceable.

To my flatmate Chase, thank you for defining what it is to just rally and yolo it. For making Monday Night Quids In a regular thing. For taking in all the neighborhood cats and giving them your own names. Salem <3. For somehow always getting free shots at Pryzm because the promoter knows you. For always being up for anything. For always putting up with me, lol. You will forever be my Quids In partner in crime. Maybe one day they will want us to be the special guests. Oh, and thanks for living in Wisconsin so I only have to travel an hour to visit.

To the Brits, thank you for putting up with me and all my craziness. For still wanting to hang out with me even after you realized I might be legit crazy. For some of the best nights out and pre’s I’ve ever had. And, for teaching me, kind of, how to play Rugby.

To my stateside friends, thank you for putting up with the crazy time difference. For dealing with my spotty wifi. For still wanting to be my friend after not hearing from me for days at a time. For still being my friend now that I’m home….

To my sister, thank you for inspiring me to go. For only being a little mad I didn’t choose to study in Italy. For giving me guidance all through college. For being extremely tough loving. For wanting to plan a trip back sometime soon. And, for being a pretty great older sister overall despite your flaws. I’m still my favorite sister, lol.

To my family, thank you for still remembering me after being away for 5 months. For all your kind words and advice. For sending cards and always thinking of me. For following along with my travels by reading my blog. And, for being my family. But, not for everyone having birthdays in the spring so that I had to miss every single one of them, not cool.

And lastly…

To my parents, thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. For supporting me all along the way. For letting me go all the way to England for 5 months. For always being a text away even at 2 or 3am. For putting up with the time difference. For giving me no boundaries in terms of where I could go. For not saying no. For loosing up on the reins and giving me the chance to be free. For coming to visit me. For loving me unconditionally. And, for being the best parents out there. I will never be able to say thank you enough for this opportunity you gave to me. You truly have given me the world for that, I am forever grateful and indebted to you.

And, I know I’ve only just scratched the surface of all the thank you’s I have but I can’t go on forever.

Study abroad was the best decision I’ve ever made. I learned and re-learned a lot of things. I’ve made some incredible friendships and a hell of a lot of memories I’ll never forget. I have a whole difference perspective and outlook on life. And most importantly I know now just how powerful and rewarding it is to say yes.

Cheers.

~meesh

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a look back

A complete list of all the places I was able to visit during my study abroad:

Austria:

Mondsee, Salzburg & Vienna

Belgium:

Brussels

Czech Republic:

Prague

England:

Bath, Harrogate, Ilkley, Leeds, London (4x), Liverpool, Scarborough, Sheffield, Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon & York (2x)

France:

Paris (2x)

Germany:

Berlin

Greece:

Aegina, Athens, Hydra & Poros

Hungary:

Budapest

Italy:

Cinque Terre (Vernazza & Monterosso) Florence, Milan, Pisa, Rome & Venice

Ireland:

Dublin & Galway (Cliffs of Moher)

Luxembourg:

Luxembourg City

Netherlands:

Amsterdam

Poland:

Auschwitz, Birkenau & Krakow

Scotland:

Edinburgh

Switzerland:

Zurich

Vatican City

Wales:

Conwy

I wasn’t able to make it to Spain or Portugal so I’m looking forward to making that my next trip across the Atlantic. And later this week I’m going to be doing a reflection post on the whole ‘study abroad’ experience so it should get pretty deep, lol.

Cheers.

~meesh

the not so weekly update 2/14

Since I haven’t done anything to super crazy of late I figured a little update would be good enough.

This past week has been a bit of a roller coaster….

First off on Monday my room light goes out….so I was living in a cave until maintenance fixed it on Wednesday. And let me tell you living in the dark is not fun. You have no idea what you look like when you go to class and it just brings you way down, because you’re just sitting in the dark alone.

IMG_3957Photo: hump-day slushy, this definitely helped me get through the week…

Second off, there is this black cat that is always roaming around right outside the complex (I don’t have a pic for obvious reasons) and each time i see it, I’m like “oh, great…something is gonna go wrong today…” Well, on Thursday I just so happened to see this particular black cat twice……both on the way to and from class. And although nothing particularly went wrong, Thursday was not my most shining moment. But, I did make some awesome news friends in class an ate the best fish n’ chips I’ve had so far.

IMG_3955Photos: yum.

S/O to Bridget and Kate for an awesome afternoon and late lunch at Revolution.

Also, tg I didn’t see that black cat yesterday (you know, on Friday the 13th) or else I think my life would have been over. And speaking of Friday is was probably the best day of the week because we celebrated Galentines Day….Leslie Knope you are a goddess. Anyways the day was everything that is was supposed to be…a day to celebrate 4 girls from Illinois killin it in England.

IMG_3963 IMG_3967Photos: Galentines hot coco and dessert

Then there’s today….v-day…which has been pretty much the source of my “bi-polar” esque mood this week. I’m not really a fan of the holiday, I think it’s a total cope out for people in relationships, like why does saying “I love you” on Valentines day mean so much more than it does on any other day of the year? IMG_3970 IMG_3971 IMG_3972

 Photos: thanks siri…

So I’m obvi spending the whole day in the my room eating chocolates an avoiding people in general. That and I’m always home from school this weekend 1. to spend the day with my family and 2. to celebrate my goddaughters birthday. It’s been really hard knowing that I wouldn’t be able to be there this year. I guess you could say I’ve been a little homesick knowing that that’s where I would normally be right now….

But, I just have to keep looking forward because next week marks the official one month of being in England which is super exciting and crazy. I can’t believe I have lasted this long, lol. So then, let’s hope next week has better things in store….cheers!

& Happy Birthday little e, wish I could be their to watch you blow out your candles.

Enjoy.

~meesh

P.S. I promise I have some more exciting posts to come…

50 shades of sheffield

With a month off for ‘Easter Break’ the weekends prove to be the perfect time to take a day trip. And with no class on Friday…why not start the weekend early…

So I hopped off the Train at STS

With a dream and my cardigan.

Welcome to the land of South Yorkshire,

Am I gonna fit in?

Walked to the map,

Here I am for the first time .

Look to my right and I see the City Hall sign.

This is all so crazy,

Everybody seems so English…

Lol….I couldn’t stop myself….maybe I’m a little homesick of Miley and parties in the USA. But, that’s really beside the point….

Sheffield is a really quaint town just south of Leeds, and just north of Nottingham. And since the train ticket was pretty cheap, why not? Since Sheffield was not listed in my guidebook we weren’t really sure what to do, but since the whole just wandering around thing seemed to work pretty well in Liverpool…we figured to just go for it.

IMG_3843 IMG_3911 IMG_3909 IMG_3902 IMG_3891 IMG_3876 IMG_3874 IMG_3860 IMG_3855 IMG_3845 IMG_3852 IMG_3832 IMG_3934 IMG_3931Photos: Around and about in Sheffield

The city was full of little parks and fountains or ‘water features’ as they are called here…around every corner. And as we left Courtney said “Au revoir big balls” to play homage to our favorite water feature there.

IMG_3883 IMG_3881 IMG_3884 IMG_3885Photos: The big balls…

For more photos of Sheffield and of my other travels too, check out my flickr!

Enjoy.

~meesh

P.S. This post is appropriately titled “50 shades of Sheffield” because it seemed that the 50 Shades of Grey franchise owned the city, with a poster for the movie around every corner…literally, and with all their “big balls” it seems to fit perfectly.

hey jude

In seeing that I just got back from a day trip to Liverpool, it’s only fitting that the title of this blog post is my favorite Beatles song, Hey Jude. Although my friends and I were too cheap to pay to take a Beatles tour or even visit the Beatles museum, Liverpool is still their birth place….so I basically had to title it as such anyways.

IMG_3677Photo: The Beatles in Jelly beans….I could just eat them up…L.O.L.

Liverpool was more beautiful than I thought it would be, but maybe that’s just because I never been there before or that the sun was shining and was just beautiful day out to begin with. Being that it’s on the coast it was really nice to see water again…but the wind on the other hand was not so nice. I guess it’s debatably (just made that word up…) the “windy city” of England.

IMG_3635 IMG_3681 IMG_3695 IMG_3696 IMG_3624 IMG_3621 IMG_3637

IMG_3691

Photos: On and around the Albert Dock

Most of the day was spent visiting different places around the city, aka wandering around until we found something cool to look at…seriously though, no point in looking at a map because you can’t find have the street signs and it just doesn’t make sense.

IMG_3607 IMG_3605 IMG_3616 IMG_3601 IMG_3619Photos: Around the city center.

We started on the dock, and naturally bought our souvenirs first, OMG I even found a push penny machine and I almost cried tears of joy because I collect them. Then we walked down to the Tate museum that was featuring a Andy Warhol exhibit which was really cool, but you couldn’t take pics inside…..ugh.

IMG_3453 IMG_3666Photos: Ticket to see Andy & this kick a** chandelier that was in the museum foyer…I literally want one for my house…srysly.

From there we just kind of wandered…we wanted to get some lunch so we just walked around until we found something cheap. And because we didn’t pay to do anything Beatles we wanted to go visit the Cavern Club which is where they got their start, it was a bit like ‘dazed and confused’ trying to find the place but we did, so I guess you could say we did the Beatles thing….

IMG_3595 IMG_3588 IMG_3593 IMG_3591 IMG_3581Photos: The Cavern & Matthew’s St. where it’s located.

Our last big stop was the Liverpool Cathedral which is the biggest in all of Britain…and getting there, well let’s just say we were definitely off the beaten path…but we did happen to find Chinatown on the way and that was actually pretty cool.

IMG_3570 IMG_3574 IMG_3568Photos: Chinatown

After we finally found our way, we headed inside….and it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was so beautiful that I’m doing a whole separate post about it….I think I’ll get it up tomorrow so you won’t see any Cathedral photos in this post….haha…

We did take a trip up to the top of the Cathedral tower and the views were breath taking, definitely the best vantage point. I literally took close to 30 mins taking photos, because I wanted to really take it all in. *Sorry friends for having to constantly wait for me as I take photos and proceed to get in super odd positions to get them…*

IMG_3523 IMG_3522 IMG_3517 IMG_3512 IMG_3511 IMG_3504 IMG_3501Photos: All taken from the Cathedral tower of Liverpool.

But I think it has been totally worth it.

Enjoy.

~meesh

the not so weekly update 1/16

So it’s been a while….

With my trip in just a few days I finally got around to starting the packing process. And much to my surprise it wasn’t too terrible. I had a good idea in my head of what I wanted to take so that definitely made the process easier especially when it came to the shoes. But, nonetheless I still had to make some sacrifices…and my poor black riding boots didn’t make the cut, they were just too big.

wujan4Photo: The boots that didn’t make the cut…they look so sad

Other than that, everything is pretty much ready to go…. I have a few more little toiletry items to pick up and still have to pack my carry on with all the really important stuff, but it’s crazy to think that this time next week I will be in England, woah.

wujan1 wujan3 wujan2Photos: My lovely luggage & nifty backpack rolling carry-on…more on luggage in upcoming post…

Aside from getting ready for my departure and running last minute errands I’ve been working, literally like a dog. Which on one end has been a total pain in my butt having to be a real person and such but it has been really nice to make some extra spending money.

wujan5Photo: Almost airport ready…

I’ve also had to say a lot of goodbyes this week and that makes me sad, and to everyone that I did and didn’t get to see I say “cheerio” because cheerio is not a goodbye, it’s a see you later…

Just a few more updates I promise…

I don’t know if I mentioned it before but in case I didn’t or you missed it I creates a flickr account were I will be posting all of the photo from my trip… AKA follow me plz

I’m working on a couple more posts to put up BEFORE I leave that are both about pre-travel stuff & I even have a sneak peek for you…

wujanPhoto: post preview…

Stay tuned & enjoy.

~meesh

 

 

meesh’s study abroad essentials

With my flight about a week away I thought it was about time that I did a travel essentials post. Especially because when I announced I’d be traveling to England I promised some pre-trip posts. So here goes…

1. A cute, functional, relativity large and FULL ZIP everyday bag/purse:

From the get-go I was on the hunt for the perfect “everyday” bag for my trip. And of course because I didn’t want to break the bank I also wanted to get a really good deal at the same time.

The really important thing I was looking for was something with a full zipper and large enough to fit a decent amount of stuff in, including my camera…The reason I wanted a full zip was so that there would be less potential for someone to rob me on the streets. With a full zipper I can assure that my valuables will always be tucked away.

As some of you many know a few months ago, sometime in late October early Novemeber Kate Spade has this crazy 75% off sale (you had to like the Kate Spade on fb to access the link that took you to the sale). And I wasn’t really into it/ didn’t want to buy anything because I didn’t want to spend money. But it was coming up on my news feed a lot so eventually I decided to check it out.

And that is where I found this bag:

te3 te4Photos: The bag, Kate Spade (something similar)

I had originally wanted to find a bag that was like a luggage brown color but once I saw this and it’s price tag I was sold. I won’t disclose how much I actually paid but it was reguarly priced at over $400 and I got it for under $200. Which was an amazing deal.

Once I actually got it I fell even more in love, it’s plenty big, has a full zipper and cross-body strap, what more could a traveling girl ask for??

te8 te6 te5Photos: More of the bag, showing the interior

If you’re look for a good travel purse my tip is if you find anything under $200 with a full zipper, cross-body strap, and lots of space inside go for it. You may think you won’t need a crossbody strap but if you are doing lots of traveling and a bag like this will always be at your side your arms will get tired, especially if you’ve got a lot of stuff inside!

2. Passport Case

I feel that as a girl this is one of the things that you don’t necessary need but yet you have to have for style purposes. I didn’t go with anything expensive, in fact I picked mine up on sale, just something that will protect you’re passport and it’s pretty sturdy.

te7 te9Photos: The passport port case, Fossil

At first I wasn’t too crazy about the bright blue color, it’s wasn’t my first choice but there wasn’t much of a selection left…but it’s definitely growing on me. I’m beginning to like the fact that it is bright blue because it will make it easier to spot in the sea that is the inside of my purse.

3. Nice quality Camera

This was a must for me. It was at the top of my list of pre-trip purchases. As someone that grew up with a dad that was pretty into photography, I’ve always had a love of cameras. I’ve always prefered to behind the lense than in front of it.

I still remember when digital DSLR cameras came out and how big of a deal it was went we got one for my dad for Christmas years back. I think it was then that I decided that when it came time for me to get a really nice camera, that’s the one I would get.

So the camera I got was the Nikon D3300….

te15 te14Photos: The camera, aka my new baby

And I’ve already been taking countless photos to get some practice in and learn about the different features. I actually created a flickr account where I will be posting the majority of the photo of my trip at. To check out my flickr at: just_meesh and follow me to see all the photos I take while abroad.

p.s. my dad has also been really into my camera as well and bought all these filters and stuff for it…he likes to take photos of me while I’m eating or something and I don’t really know why….

4. Journal

This seems like something really simple but I think that keeping a journal is huge. It’s important to write things down and recount experiences through words because words will last you a lifetime, and it’s a really great way to document your travels.

I know that I’m going to make use of my journal and I’ve started by writing down my new years resolutions so that I can reaffirm them every time I open my journal and I’m also going to start a study abroad bucket list there too.

te10 te11Photos: My journal, I love the saying….“Paint The Town Red” Kate Spade

But, mostly I’ll use it to document my trip and for keeping random thoughts and epitomes too.

5. A good read

aka a book or too for long trips

I just think everyone needs that good read for a long plane, train or even bus ride. It helps pass the time and reading is just so good to do. I love to read so I know I definitely be taking a few books with me. I got a couple for Xmas and I’m really excited to get into them during my travels.

te13Photo: My books of choice: Wild & Game of Thrones book 1

6. Travel guide/s

Especially if you’ve never been to Europe like me, you’re probably going to want to get at least one travel book to have as a companion for your travels. My mom actually gave me a really good tip on travel guides and that’s to go to the library and rent a couple to see which you like best and then go buy the one that you liked most. That way you know exactly what you are getting.

te12Photos: The travel books I am checking out right now…really like Fodor’s England so far..

So I went to the library and picked up a bunch and have been skimming them to see which I take a liking too. Actually while I was skimming I came across another god tip which is to pick up a travel book once you get there because it will have a lot of good information about the local stuff and will include things that might not be in the big all encompassing guides books.

Of course this isn’t everything you will need for traveling but these 6 items where what I have found to be my big ticket items in terms of travel essentials.

te2It all fits perfect in my bag, even my agenda too.

Enjoy.

~meesh

p.s. leave a comment below if you have a question or like something you see!