Not(ting) A Chance In Hill I’m Leaving

As I start to prepare to leave for home, i’ve really started reflecting on my time here in London. It’s such a big city with so much to offer and I feel as though i’ve only experienced a quarter of what it has to offer. England may be a small country, but there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Every part of this city is so different and beautiful in their very own way, and i’m going to miss the diversity once i’m back to the cozy and small little town of New Paltz.

I’ve seen so many beautiful parts of England that I don’t even know where to begin. Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus were the first parts of central London I delved into, before I knew all that this city had to offer. I thought everything was amazing then… if only I could go back and tell myself it only gets better from there. That was the first of my many trips to the Piccadilly Circus/Soho area. I think it was one of my favorites, not entirely because of what it had to offer, but because it reminded me of home. I’ll admit I was pretty homesick this trip, but aspects like this made me feel more comfortable. They call Piccadilly the Times Square of London – and it’s easy to see why! Plus, who knew there was also a Soho in London? Definitely not me, but i’m happy there is (even though Soho in NYC is significantly better IMHO). There’s also a China Town in that area too. This area just kept feeling more and more like home.

One of my favorite and last places I visited here was Notting Hill. Known for being the background of many movies, it was the most adorable little place i’ve ever seen. Walking down the residential streets and seeing the colorful houses made me want to return in the future (far future most likely, yah know, when i’m financially stable) and live there. Seriously, I was gushing over this place. Beautiful trees and flowers were everywhere in sight and my heart was very happy. If you want to smile, look up pictures of this place. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Outside of the city, England is filled with historical sights. For instance, the city of Bath. The small city is quite a way from central London, yet completely worth the visit. I literally bought a Jane Austen book after visiting here (mostly because I walked down the path she wrote about in her novel Persuasion). The Roman Baths possess such a rich history that you can’t find in the U.S., therefore I enjoyed every minute of my time there. There’s also a really good ice cream place.

Stonehenge is another historical mystery that intrigued me. If you don’t know about Stonehenge, I suggest you look up pictures and keep in mind the rocks were arranged that way circa 3000 BC. Yup, that’s right, BC. That means no technology, no machinery, zip. So how were the stones transported there and arranged like that? Maybe look up a conspiracy theory for an answer to that question, because nothing is known for sure.

I could go on and on about every place i’ve encountered here including the good and the bad. But I should stop before I start getting into every little detail like what the person next to me on the tube was wearing. Bottom line is that through the ups and down of being abroad, London has been so wonderful, so beautiful, and hold so much promise for the future.

24 Hours in the Outback

(Written from 13 May)

Imagine the average bar of soap, with an area of roughly 46.2 cm (I did a lot of math to illustrate this). Convert that to meters, then multiply that by 187,826 or so, and you’ve got 8,460 m. In kilometers, this is an area of 8.46 km. Paint it red, put it in the barren desert, claim it as an Aboriginal holy land, and you’ve pretty much got Uluru. A giant oasis in the desert, this is the perfect chance for the government (and occasionally locals) to make money from tourists, who come daily in the hundreds and violate nearly every sacred rule set in place. It’s hot, full of flies, and there is NOTHING else around. So, is it really that appealing?

I didn’t actually know if I’d be able to make it to Uluru (also known as Ayer’s Rock) up until a week before I did. Getting a text in the middle of class from Lily and Julia, they tell me they found tickets to Uluru for only $200 roundtrip. The catch? It was only five days away, and I didn’t know if skipping class with such short notice was a good idea. I realized though, that opportunities like this don’t come every day, and if I didn’t go I’d definitely regret it. I would get to go camel riding in the Outback, as I’d promised close friends from my church, and get to see this giant rock that just screams Australia as much, if not more, than Sydney Opera House. So in a wonderful spirit of “screw class, I’m in Oz,” me, Julia, Lily, and Joseph, made plans to travel to what the Aussies call “the Back of Bourke,” i.e., “the middle of rural nowhere.”

Stepping out of the airport, you immediately get hit with an immense heat, and the first thing you notice is the redness of the soil beneath your feet. It’s truly Martian when you first see it, and it’s near impossible to get off your shoes or bare feet. The next thing that hits you is the flies, which will not leave you alone no matter how much bug spray you use or if you were dumb enough to buy a goofy looking fly net (no offense Joseph and Lily). Since it’s impossible to get anywhere without a car, renting one was on our first list of priorities. With that, we went into what somehow classifies as a town for lunch, and after that, to the rock. There really is no way to prepare for seeing Uluru in person. At a quick glance, it is just a big red boulder in the middle of nowhere. But once you see it even from a distance, it is truly awe inspiring. It’s much bigger than any picture can properly portray, and as you driver closer and closer toward it it becomes more and more magnificent. There’s also surprisingly more vegetation than you would expect: vibrant bushes, small trees, and loads of yellow grass.

Our first stop at the rock was at an Aboriginal Cultural Centre, dedicated to showing Aboriginal life, belief, stories, and most beautifully, art. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take pictures of most of it, which while sad for the photographer I’ve become, is understandable. To have your way of life constantly intruded upon, even mocked, whilst trying to hold onto your identity amongst invasion of your sacred land, is a struggle I’ll never fully comprehend. If it means no pictures, so be it. This was my first hands on glance at a life completely foreign to me, dating back over 80,000 years. With more time, I would have loved to have seen more, but the schedule didn’t allow. And so we left there to embark on a bush walk around the rock itself, and as we pull up to the parking lot we spot a massive tour group climbing on said sacred rock. I want to punch every single one of them. If there’s one thing you don’t do on someone else’s holy land, it’s climb all over it, in doing so disrespecting everything about the owner’s beliefs, and claim it as your own victory. Don’t get me wrong, I want to take pictures, and I want to climb. But I was raised to respect other people’s wishes and their beliefs. To ignore that makes you seem not like a conquering adventurer scaling the top of the world, but an ignorant prick who really doesn’t care at all that this is someone else’s sacred land.

But, leaving them be and secretly hoping karma will teach them a lesson while I’m on the other side of the rock, the four of us begin the long walk around the base. As I’d mentioned earlier, Uluru is huge. With a circumference of 9.4 km (5.8 mi), it’s bigger than Central Park, Hudson NY, or even my pleasant Footscray suburb. Everywhere there is something to see, each crack and crevasse a work of art and each outlying boulder beautifully placed. The sounds of the occasional breeze, buzzing insects, screeching hawks filling your ears, and the soft red sand beneath your bare feet (I had to know what it felt like without shoes). Nevertheless, we gravely underestimate how long this walk will take us. Surely, we’re just going to do a quick loop. After an hour, we begin to question how long the walk is. Debating whether we should turn back or not to make sure we have time to see the sunset, we decide to keep trekking, sure we’re more than halfway there. An hour and a half pass by, and we’re pretty sure we’re not far from the end. Just short of two hours in, we’re getting close, maybe. At two and half hours, we have to turn to look at the map. Only then do we realize that this is a FOUR HOUR hike. Much too late to turn back, we have to tough it out for another hour and a half.

In the great desert heat, having to refill on water many times, and constantly swipe away flies, we make it to the car exhausted. Determined to carry on to see the sunset from a vantage point a few kilos away, we drive and arrive having just missed the best part of the sunset. The flies are still insane, and the light isn’t good enough for pictures. But something greater is out there than a colorful rock. Driving to the hotel we begin to see the stars emerge in the Outback sky. First, one. Then two, or three. We check in, have dinner, and decide to head out again for some quick stargazing. I look up at the immensity of the heavens. In the Outback, there’s absolutely no light pollution. You can see everything, stars all around and light filling the night sky. The entire galaxy is before you, a sight impossible to capture with my camera (but I got some from a pro photographer) but instead enveloping your entire soul. This is the opening of the heavens. And there is nothing more beautiful than this.

The stars came into vision again very quickly: having slept only 5 or 6 hours, we had to wake up early in order to prepare for our sunrise camel ride. Stepping outside to wait for our pickup, the frigid morning air chills you with ease. Arriving at the camel farm, the staff give us a quick run down on what to expect, and then take us out to the camels themselves. Having ridden horses several times, I can tell you riding a camel is a whole different rodeo. To start, camels are much bigger than most horses, and must be mounted as the camel kneels, as opposed to climbing up into a stirrup. Once saddled the camel rises to the ground using its back legs first: failure to observe and prepare for this leaves one with a face full of red dirt. Camels also walk using one side of their legs at a time, going left, then right, then left, much like a ship. As with horses, naturally you want a camel that is well behaved, and even more so since an angry camel has the tendency to spit. When asked about our camel, Luci, we were told that he is “adventurous” and “strongminded.” Only once up and on our walk did they reveal his full name.

And so, Joseph and I are ridding Lucifer the Camel through the bush as the sun just comes up over the horizon. The stars slowly fade as warmth returns to the Outback. Lucifer is actually quite well behaved, making me think he’s just misunderstood and teased by the other camels. We get to Uluru once again, as the sun rises over the vast Australian bush and paints the rock in these beautiful reds and oranges. I’ve said this many times before, but the view is breathtaking in every way, and the whole experience blows you away. Never before would I have thought I’d make it to Australia, let alone riding camels in the open Outback. I’m currently doing something I doubt more than 3 other people I meet will have ever done (Joseph, Lily, and Julia). I get to witness something here completely beyond myself. The beauty of this sacred rock, having in a peaceful and respectful way conquered it by walking the entire circumference of it. The vastness of this great galaxy, each and every star and planet before me. The pleasure of sitting a top one hell of a camel (pun intended) while riding through the desert.

I cannot overstate how special it really is for me to be here, not just in this country, but this world, this life. There is so much to explore out there. A rock. A desert. A country. A galaxy. And it’s yours.

Returning to the US Part II: Thinking  About Home, The Future, and Saying Goodbye to this Home in Madrid 

There are so many questions that have been going through my mind as I prepare to come home everyday for the past month. Saying goodbye to a place I’ve been in for 4 months and 3 weeks seems unreal. Coming back home somehow feels unreal, too. Did time really go by this fast? How? How does time work like that? Why is it always the invisible monarchy in our lives? And if time went by fast for my me, life flew by for my family and friends, too. It’s like I have to make a new life for myself again. Or rather, try to pick up from where I left off. But last I left off, it was winter in NY, and I had just celebrated my 21st birthday. 

Now I’m thinking about what else to do in Madrid before I leave. I’m thinking about who to say goodbye to. I’m thinking about all the emails I want to send out as a thank you to my professors here who made university feel right. I’m thinking about what places I would like to see or what things I want to do again before leaving (including eating at TAKOS, getting drinks and sandwiches  at 100 Montaditos, maybe going to Ojalá cafe once more to finally sit on the sand, and watching the sunset at Buen Retiro once more). Maybe even checking out Sol at night where the palace is to listen to that beautiful chelo again. 

I’m wondering what exactly I will be doing this summer. When will I see my friends? What will my family think of me when I’m back? Will they tell me I’ve gained weight, look the same, or loss weight? What others questions will they ask me that they don’t already know? Will I be able to go out late and enjoy being an adult the way I’ve been doing abroad by myself for all the time without pushback from my parents? What will it be like to be with my fiancé again? When do we continue planning the wedding again? 

And jet lag? What about that? 

What else do I have to do when I’m back? Doctors’ appointment? Dentist? Spring Cleaning? 

Will anyone from abroad reach out to me? Will they think to think of me? Will my family and friends think to think of me when I’m back home? Will anyone make an effort to keep me in their minds? Will I do the same? 

Will I really be a senior after I take my last exam here? Am I ready to graduate next May around this time? Will I see my friends who graduated anytime soon? How will it be to see friends who were my friends abroad on campus? especially if we don’t really talk anymore and/or have grown apart even while abroad? 

What does the future look like for me post graduation? Even back at New Paltz? Will I be able to join WNPC-TV again as a reporter? Will I find a job? Will people remember me and want me back? How  will being a Student Activities Manager be once again, but this time, for a whole year? 

And really, how do I say goodbye to my friends here? The ones that will be in different parts of the US and Europe when we all return to the normal part of our lives? What is normal now? What will be the normal, rather? How do I say goodbye to my Host Mom, the one I’ve grown to care for? What exactly do I write in her card to say goodbye? How do I not cry? What will it be like to say bye to family friends who are here? My 2nd family? How do I not cry, then? 

What now? 

Uhh, Habla Inglés?

The best part about studying in the UK is that everyone here speaks English. Upon coming, I didn’t have to worry about saying something wrong or misunderstanding a native because we speak the language. It was one of the reasons I made the decision to study in London rather than a non-English speaking country. I’m not gonna lie, life is a lot easier when everyone speaks your language anyway. Especially when you’re an awkward person like me who gets nervous when they misunderstand anything and doesn’t want to ask the person to repeat themselves 5 times until i hear them correctly. So, what was it like to travel from a different English speaking country to a non-English speaking country, you ask?

I recently went to Barcelona, Spain to celebrate the end of finals. Wow, did I deserve a celebration. Essays upon essays using a citation format you’ve never used before and trying to incorporate theories you weren’t here to learn so you teach them to yourself wasn’t so easy. Therefore, I believed the sunny Barcelona beach and beautiful city sights was in the cards. The only difficult part of this trip was the fact that I don’t speak nor understand a lick of Spanish. Sure, I know the basic “hello,” “thank you,” and “where’s the bathroom,” but aside from that Spanish might as well be gibberish. I took Italian throughout middle and high school, why didn’t I plan a trip to Italy instead?

Thankfully, many people there spoke English. My friend (who also did not know any Spanish) and I really lucked out, however I did ask my good friend who is a Spanish major back at New Paltz how to say some key phrases. Shoutout to the lovely Erin, your phrases did indeed come in handy. For example, she told me “puedo ayudarme” means “can you help me,” which I hoped I wouldn’t really need to use unless I was asking for directions. My friend ended up fainting on the metro and that phrase helped me in that tricky situation. I probably wasn’t saying it correctly, considering I had no idea how to handle the situation, but strangers came to help before I even really started to get the words out. Spanish people are very nice and helpful.

Anyway, it was very different going to a country where English is not the first language. I’ve only ever visited English speaking countries, so this was a very cultural trip for me aside from being the most relaxed I was all semester. I didn’t feel as isolated as I thought I would since there were so many people who spoke English, but I almost wish that wasn’t the case so I could try to challenge and immerse myself more. As they say, what better way to learn a language that be surrounded by those who speak it, right?

Recommendation for Classes at UC3M

Spanish Grammar Course: I recommend this class for anyone willing to improve their Spanish. This is a good introduction to the Spanish you will hear around you everyday. People in Spain speak Castellano. The Spanish is much different than the one you hear in the United States. So this will teach you new vocabulary. Here, you will  be able to confidently talk with the locals, and understand Spanish grammar and conversation much better than before. A lot of what I learned here, I heard my host mom and family friends say. So it was super useful. I got to hear things I learned in the class, used outside of the classroom. And I too, got to practice using the same things I learned myself. It is a tough class, but I think it’s worth it if you want to challenge yourself and come back home with a better grasp of a new language. Why not?

Cultural Studies:  I enjoyed this class a lot because I learned so much about the very things I was experiencing. For example, I learned about the Spanish flag, about the Franco era, the significance of bull-fighting and football/soccer, etc. Learning about these very things helped me find more meaning living in Spain. I was able to understand Spanish culture with some background, some knowledge. My favorite topics were learning about Spanish women and debunking some of the stereotypes, learning about bullfighting and what it truly means for people for and against it, as well as everything involved with the Franco Era including his plead for football at the time. It is a tough class because of the heavy readings, and writing assignments that make up the bulk of class discussion, but you learn so much. This Professor has also been asked to teach this course in English next fall, so this summer, she will be working on finding material to teach it in the native language of her American students. So, think about it.

Theory and Practice of Short Story Course: I loved this class so much. I was able to read short stories by different Spanish authors and discuss literature all in Spanish. The Professor was so passionate about what he was teaching and that was the best part. His introduction to the course was great, and he followed through the entire time. We were also able to produce small writing exercises emulating some of the techniques and concepts we learned in class. We then used some of these exercises to create a short story. This pushed me to think about literature in a different language, and talk about literature in Spanish. 100 percent recommend if you love reading, writing, and talking about both.


Finals While at UC3M in Madrid

You might feel like finals will never end. This always happens. Every finals week. So, do not fret! Keep these things in mind:

  1. Breathe (Always!)
  2. Drink Water (Please!)
  3. Take breaks (20 min. Netflix shows,/A  phone call/ A walk)
  4. Have snacks (Fruit, Bars, and Candy for energy)
  5. Find a good study area with wifi that’s not at home (Starbucks with tables outside for fresh air and warmth)
  6. Bring a buddy who motivates you to do work just as much as you motivate them (My roommate)

At UC3M, finals week is over the course of an entire month in May. In my case, since I am in the Hispanic Studies Program, my Spanish courses had exams during the week of May 14-May 18.

I had 2 sit-down exams. I had a Spanish grammar exam that was 9 pages. It included all fill-in-the blank on colloquial phrases and situational dialogues we’ve learned, subjunctive mood, preterite tense vs. imperfect tenses, haber + participle verbs, vocabulary, etc. My other exam was for Cultural Studies and it included 5 essay questions on Spanish movies, art, clothing, the flag, and the meaning of the slogan “Spain is Different” from the Franco era.

My other classes had papers due. I wrote a short story in Spanish for my literature course, and wrote an article on bull-fighting for my History class. I spent 1 week studying for both exams 2-3 hours a day. I also began my written assignments 1-2 months in advance to hand them in prior to study week, in order to just focus on exams, which I highly recommend. Most of my exams are 55-60 percent of my final grade here at UC3M. I have a feeling that’s a European way of education. So definitely study, go to tutoring, and practice, practice practice.

My last exam is for Radio Workshop. We have not had an exam for this theoretical part of the course (powerpoint/lecture) this entire time. (I only had 2 exams for Grammar prior to the final exam). But, this professor did give a review of what will be on the exam potentially. This exam isn’t until May 30th because it is part of the undergraduate bachelor’s degree program.

Therefore, it feels like my exams are once again, never-ending. But the bright side is, I can pace my studying, and still enjoy my last weeks in Madrid.

Hope this is helpful for you all!

p.s.  2/5 of my classes (Radio Workshop and Cultural Studies) had 2 parts to the final exam. 1 week was a presentation/ project due. A couple of weeks later, we also had an exam. Keep that in mind! They both count.


What I Miss From Home

(Written from 6th May, almost 3 months since leaving)

So the Australian adventure is here, changing me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. Life has become so much bigger, so much more beautiful. I’ve proven to myself and the world that I, Jonathan David Kline, can take on the world, then thousand miles from home. The days of a small secluded life in rural nowhere have been behind for quite some time, and I find that the opportunities in Australia are far more than I ever had back home. I love it here. I really, genuinely do, and a giant part of me wants to stay here forever. So with the future ahead of me, my eyes set on Australia and all the adventures I’m experiencing in this great new world, what do I really miss from home?

To be honest, a lot less than I thought at first (I’m sorry to all the people back home reading this, especially my Dad, but bear with me). I even boast about it to all my friends. They talk occasionally about how much they miss this or that, whether it be the food, or New Paltz, or friends, or any other range of things. But honestly, I don’t miss home like I thought I would. In terms of food, I don’t really eat much to begin with, so whatever keeps me fed is enough (usually pizza, grilled toasties, and chicken parm). I’m not from the city, so I’m not attached to New York style pizza, grilled toasties are easy to make anywhere, and although initially I missed having chicken parm come with spaghetti, I kinda like that it comes with ham and chips (fries) here. As for New Paltz, I was only there for one semester before coming here. Though I loved that semester, I don’t have the same attachment to it as others. Going back will be nice, but not something I’m extremely looking forward to. That ties into friends as well: I only got to make so many friendships at New Paltz due to only being there for so long, and once I go back there’s only a few faces I’ll have actually missed. Outside of New Paltz, truth be told I don’t have more than two or three close friends, who I only see once or twice a year anyway.

This isn’t to say of course that I don’t miss SOME food, New Paltz, and friends back home. But in many ways, I’ve found more success here than I did back home. While I miss some restaurants (and especially cheaper food), I’ve found several places I like here that can substitute. Plus, I’ve become half decent at making my own food, and do so just about everyday (which doesn’t sound like a huge accomplishment until you’re out on your own without a meal plan like at New Paltz). I miss the small town feel of New Paltz, and even though Deyo was kinda crappy I miss my old suite, which had legroom, occasional crazy, and most importantly, free laundry. But I’ve come to appreciate Victoria University enough (it’s not the greatest school); classes are easier and students and professors friendly. I won’t say I like UniLodge (we’ve had to evacuate for a ‘fire’ every week), but I enjoy being able to cook my own meals, play games of pool, and hang out with friends. And friend-wise, I feel I’m much more comfortable and able to enjoy being with friends here more than I sometimes was at home. Now, I’ll actually seek to hang out with mates, watch movies, play games, and importantly for me, not be as afraid of women or parties/drinks as I used to be. The friendships I’ve developed are ones I never really had back home, and even though inevitably I won’t be able to keep them all once home, I feel like now I know how to make friends, how to be social, and once home how to keep friendships going.

But when it comes to friends, there’s one I truly miss with all my heart, and whenever I’m asked, “don’t you miss anything from home?” is my immediate response: my sister. Two years younger than I am, Shelby has been my best friend since day one. We had an incredible childhood full of memories and jokes we make to this day. After losing our mom, we toughed it out together, working to push through and build the other up (I needed a LOT of it). Always supportive, always there for the other, and at the same time always making fun of the other or making complete fools of ourselves. So when I first started looking at study abroad, the one thing that was holding me back above everything else was being so far from Shelby. At New Paltz, I was still close enough I could come visit when I wanted, and we still talked on the phone every single day. Now, I was going to be geographically further from her than ever before. Not to mention, this being her senior year of high school, I’m not there to help her through and experience such a huge part of her life. Performing her senior year acting troupe show, getting her driver’s license, going to prom, deciding where to go to college, walking down the stage at graduation… and I’m on the other side of the planet.

Yet even though I’m so far away from home, I still feel close to home, if not closer (if that makes sense). I’m still able to talk with my sister at least once a week but usually more. I don’t always enjoy the time difference, but we’ve come to manage and have worked out the best times to call each other (usually my late morning, which is NY’s late evening). I still get to be a part of my sister’s life, watching as she develops into a new woman. Just as this trip has changed me, it’s also changed her, making her more independent and ready to leave the nest, and as a brother I couldn’t be happier. I also try to talk to my parents at least once a week, who I also miss a lot. My dad is always excited to hear from me, brightening up his day whenever I call, and mine as well. I think even more than Shelby he wants me to come back soon, and I can’t blame him. As excited as my family is to hear all my interesting stories taking on sharks in the reef and crocodiles in the jungle (I may have borrowed those stories from Finding Nemo and Crocodile Dundee), I’m just as excited to hear stories back home about how the deck furniture is being replaced or my dad got his crown replaced. Because even though it’s not always interesting at a glance, it’s home.

Being so far away has made me greatly appreciate everything about home that I sometimes took for granted. I miss the dishwasher, free laundry, my computer, the deck swing and hammock my family is beginning to set up once again. One big thing I really miss having is my car; which is definitely one of the first things I’m using once I get back (hopefully on the right side of the road!). Not that I mind so much using public transportation or my feet for shorter distances, but there’s some days I just want to drive in the countryside, or not walk fifteen minutes to the grocery store. Although generally speaking the weather here is better, I miss the change of the seasons and the beauty of spring. I miss hanging out with my cousins after church on Sunday or being at my grandparents doing yard work. I miss baseball games and bike riding and building things. Home cooked meals my stepmom would go out her way to make for us, sitting at the couch watching Jeopardy while eating said meals, and then a walk to the falls after dinner as a family….

Despite everything here, there’s just some things back home that will always hold a special place in my heart. No matter where I go, or how far, or for how long, home is always home. Maybe one day Australia could be home. Maybe I won’t always stay in the same place I grew up. Maybe what I have at home isn’t meant to last forever. But there will always be something special about my life in upstate New York, that no matter what happens I will always treasure and cherish.

The Land of Ice Chronicles: The boy with the pink and green aura

Ivon; His name is Ivon Roberts. Since the day I had an actual conversation with him, we’ve hung out like three times but it was like there was some instant connection there. Funny thing is, there was already an obvious connection between us that I actively ignored for like 3 months because I was stuck in such a negative mindset.

Let me elaborate.

If you’ve read all of these blogs or know me, you know I have an obsession with all things Korean. I even think I might have been a Korean Princess in a past life, but that’s beside the point. The point is that ever since I arrived here in Limerick, I had been praying to meet and chill with someone who shares my interest in the Asian Gods and Goddesses that make up the Korean entertainment industry. And yet, when I found out there were TWO people that shared this interest in MY DAMN CLASS, my negative mindset caused me to ignore the fact. I decided not to engage in too much conversation because I thought, “eh. They won’t like me because I’m American”, or “eh. They seem too popular to hang out with me… I’m a loser”.

Man, I sincerely wish I could go back in time and knock some damn sense into my naive self. I missed out on an amazing friendship for almost 5 months. But you know what, it does bring me joy that I ended up finding this friendship. Honestly, its one of the only things I’ll miss when I leave Ireland.

But why, though? Can thou explain?

I can. After talking to Ivon for a while, we’d decided to hit up the stables for the last couple “TGIF International Parties” they were having. Now, if you’ve read my other blogs, you are aware how much I despise the music they play. Yet, I really felt like this time would be different and BOY WAS IT. First off, I was actually happy the entire night. Four different guys actually came to talk to me because I guess they found me interesting. Whatever the case, Mama felt sexy as hell. I felt such a natural high just from being there with my newly made friend. That child is like a monster on the dancefloor; he will legitimately dance to anything and throw all of his energy into it. Needless to say, just by being around him for one song made me feel like I’d just had 17 shots of tequila. So the music wasn’t a bother; I started jamming to Party in the USA feeling like a proud Lil’ ditsy American. I went around and must’ve given 10 different strangers hugs just because I found them attractive. Mama was wild.

I had never felt so free in the 5 months that I’d been in Ireland so this was an actual big deal. I just felt so confident and I honestly think part of it came from the energy I was picking up from Ivon. He danced the entire night without a care in the world. He was just happy to be doing something that was fun for him and that alone was a joy to watch unfold. The next time we hit up stables again, it was just as magical and I am so glad. Now when I think about the on-campus club/bar, I am filled with joy, happiness, and laughter.

The third time we hung out, we went to go eat. We must’ve stayed in the restaurant for like 3 hours just talking about life and other things. I truly felt connected to someone Irish for the first time since I’d been here. I hadn’t had a talk like that with anyone in a really long time. I also hadn’t laughed that hard in a really long time and it felt amazing. Then we hopped in his car, and I listened to his album. Yeah, ya heard right. IVON IS A SINGER-SONGWRITER!!

If you know me, I am obsessed with music and love humans who create it. You can imagine my utter shock when I heard how professional all the songs on his album were. I was expecting like normal-grade college kid produced stuff. But boy, his stuff sounded like he’d spent years in a studio perfecting it all. The lyrics were also freaking spectacular. I related to almost every song and part of me wanted to use half of them and create a musical about the struggles my generation goes through. I was beyond amazed and like I- I just- speechless.

But I think the best part of that night was what he did and where he drove as I listened to all these fantastical songs. Ivon drove us to like two or three different counties as we heard his songs. He said he’d done it so now I can say I’ve explored more of Ireland and been to more parts of Ireland. The smol sensitive crybaby in me wanted to weep with gratitude. Nobody has ever done something like that for me and it literally warmed my heart.

When we got back in the area where the school was, I popped in some KPOP and boy am I glad I did. THIS IS PRICELESS!

When I got home, I felt so happy, grateful, joyous, and basically any other positive emotion you can think of. The boy with the pink and green aura had given me the gift of pure happiness, a thing which I’d forgotten the feeling of.

Thank you Ivon Alexander Roberts. You mean the world. Keep chasing your dreams and never doubt yourself, you will do great things for this world.

Stay tuned for next week’s chapter of

“The Land of Ice Chronicles”


The Land of Ice Chronicles: Maybe it isn’t that icy

Where was I? Ahh yes, my point of spiritual awakening and enlightenment.

So I found a meditation video on youtube and was shocked at how much of my jaw pain it relieved. The guided meditation took me travelling through galaxies, which allowed me to leave all my troubles and worries behind me. Here, in a space that my own mind created, I could see just how small my problems were in the grand scheme of things. I realized the power of my mind at that point. I could meditate any time I wanted to and go into this safe space. So that’s what I did. I meditated every single day and every day I began to learn new things about myself. I learned that all the sunlight I was in desperate need of was already inside me. Respectively, I learned that all the darkness that was keeping me from realizing this was also deep within me. I came to the realization that it was only I who could control what mood I am in; I, alone, decide the fate of my future and whether it is a positive one or a negative one.

Once I learned all of these lessons and became very in touch with my spirituality, amazing things began to happen. For one, I signed up for a weight-loss program and I’ve lost about 10 pounds since then. It doesn’t get any better than that people.

I also saw a Michael Jackson Impersonator show and GOT TO SING one of the lyrics into the microphone. I’m friends on Instagram with one of the dancers from the show. LIFE COULD NOT BE BETTER, my friends.

This ain’t even the best part, ya’ll.

I also started to feel and sense energies. I started to see in my mind’s eye the energy and its corresponding colour that people radiated out into the universe. The colours were so magnificent and mesmerizing. I started to think back on how I could’ve been friends with all these beautiful humans who gave the universe the light and energy that it requires to survive. I could’ve been hit with all these waves of yellow, blue, turquoise, pink, and green too. So I thought, “hey why not start now? It is never too late for friendships to bloom”. That’s the day I decided to approach the boy with the most beautiful energy I’d ever seen; the boy with the pink and green aura. But you’ll hear about that soon.

For now, you should just walk away learning the lesson that we are in charge of our own fate and destiny. We can either conjure up our worst fears or summon our wildest dreams.

The choice is yours.

If you’d like to read about the boy with the pink and green aura,

then read the next chapter of

“The land of Ice Chronicles”

Classes here… the Countdown begins

When I first arrived here back on February 12 I started with 144 days. After changing my return flight from July 6 to June 15th (Australia is EXPENSIVE)I suddenly have 31 days left! Time really does fly by. While I do miss home im not sure Im ready to leave. I wanted to come to Australia because it was so far away but now that I am leaving soon it makes me wonder if I will ever make it back out here. It has definitely been an incredible semester though and I managed to do practically everything on my list.

Also classes here are a JOKE! Now It doesn’t mean you should skip class but it is incredibly easy compared to classes back home. I am sure however that this differs from major to major. I am a bit worried about getting back home and having to readjust to classes and life at New Paltz. So much has changed back home with friends, family, and especially with work. Going back home will definitely be interesting.