JULY

What do you mean its the end of August and this hasn’t been written…

July was a lot like April, but without the variety of countries and school work. It was however, almost constant travel and lots of work, just of a different kind. Becuase I do really hate having ‘nothing’ to do, I decided having two jobs, ie working 40+ hours, was a good idea for my summer. And while it can be a little exhausting, it does keep me busy!

On the more fun side of things, July was 3 (back to back) weekends of travel, and a whole lot of family!

It’s been a very long time since we went to a family wedding, so my cousin’s wedding in early July was a great chance to see a lot of extended family. It was an incredibly sweet event, very personal and thought out!


  
I got to finally see my sister after 6 months, although it took a trip to Houston for that to happen. Major downsides to being uni students, though summer was her last academic semester of nursing school!


  
We also took a trip out to Odessa to see the other side of the family, and were immediately  overfed at every opportunity because that’s what grandmothers do.


July was also when I started wanting to go back to school. I don’t know if its the distance, the fact that I like school, or the desire for my normal schedule that has made me want to back to school. I’m so happy to have a break and get to spend time with family and friends, but at the same time, 3 months feels so much longer than it did before. But maybe that’s just the Texas heat talking.

 

Alex

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JUNE

*let’s all ignore that this is literally almost 2 months late, okay? Okay.*

June was strange. June was exams and meetings and planes and work. June went from 60 degrees to 100 degrees.

2 out of my 3 exams were in June, so the first 2.5 weeks were really just lost to books, notes and too much time in the library. But of course, that was consistently interrupted by meetings, activities, and requests for ‘Alex Please Fix This’. To illustrate, here is a photo of me absolutely losing it in the rain while holding dropping a container of bagels. Probably actually a good illustration of most of my life.

I flew back to Texas on a Tuesday, and I feel like it has been a week, not 6. Between friends, family, cross-Texas road trips every weekend, and work (so much work) time has flown by. But June was nice. It ended a school year and started summer, so the stress of exams is quickly lost to the joy of sunshine and live music and late nights sitting in the driveway with friends I don’t get to see 9 months of the year.

 

 Alex

MAY

This is the last month I will end here in the UK until I come back in September, and that feels really strange. I’m not leaving particularly soon, but I will end June (very jetlagged) in Austin. So here is May.

When writing these monthly summaries, I pull up my calendar and look at the month overview. May looks empty in comparison. In reaction to April’s weekly travel, I stayed very much in Lancaster this month, with only one trip of about 30 minutes away to attend a Romanian Orthodox Easter service. My rule was no trips I had to pack for, and that happened. For the first time since before I moved I’ve spent every night in the same city. It feels wild to say that, but its been nice. I’ve felt settled.

May is a transition month. It’s between spring and summer, it’s almost the end of a school year, it’s just so in between. This month has felt different, and for so many reasons it has been. Sometimes it’s felt like I’ve just been waiting for something. I don’t know if that’s exams, or going home, or anything really. I’ve felt jittery and on edge, and not just from too much coffee. Not having lectures has left a lot more empty space in my week, and it can be hard to structure life with so much empty time.

 

I really think one of the things we don’t discuss and don’t know how to prepare for as university students is the fact that there isn’t a schedule or routine. Life is not 9-5 where the day ends and you might take work home but not always. Your classes are scattered around, the work you do is always changing, just like the amount. You both always have studying to do, but also have so little structure around when all of that occurs. You don’t have an office, you work where you socialize where you sleep and eat and live and everything else you do with your life. It means that “work” doesn’t get to stop because you went home, or its the weekend. And I know actual jobs can be the same, but there is something incredibly challenging about that structure for students.

May was different. Both March and April were so busy and stressful, its hard to compare them to May because it was a different stress. I don’t feel like I’ve been running for the past 31 days this time around. I’ve got one exam left and less than 20 days till I’m back in Austin.

I know June will be about how strange and difficult leaving will be, so lets leave May as the month I spent just here, not being pulled around the continent, or the world, just here (mostly in the library) for the last time this year.

Alex

APRIL

I wrote about March almost halfway through April, sitting on a train. I wrote that I needed something new, a little calmer, I needed a break. I failed to realize that April wasn’t going to be that. March and April bled together into a muddled mess of travel, stress, and change. It’s honestly hard to tell where one ended without looking at a calendar. On that train where I wrote about March, I remarked on the rainy day with a phrase I’ve heard people say most of my life. “April showers bring May flowers” While the friends I was with had not heard this phrase, I don’t think there is a better one to sum up this month. Here were April’s showers, and I’m hoping they’re bringing me a few May flowers.

 I began April in Lisbon with family, which is still probably the highlight of the month. Missing family is obviously the hardest thing about living so far away, and being away from home for 6 months is not easy. No matter how great that week was, saying goodbye at the end was incredibly difficult. I don’t think that will change.

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April ended in the middle of Roses, a huge sporting event Lancaster has against Roses each year. The run up to Roses for me was a 24hr trip to Brussels for a conference, a night in the airport, followed directly by classes, standing outside for hours reporting for our student newspaper, and dealing with the drunken party that apparently everything becomes during Roses. Honestly, the end of April is probably the perfect summary of the month.

 When I say April was full of travel, I mean I traveled every single week of April. April was 3 countries, 4 planes, 9 trains, and quite a few taxis (I have been reminded to count some tuk-tuks in this as well). What I find incredibly funny and frustrating is how often people tell me they’re ‘jealous’ of how exciting my life is. But I feel like it’s easy to see the travel and conferences and see them as interesting and fun, when you can ignore the dark circles under my eyes and the late hours spent working to make sure everything is done. I promise this life looks a lot better from the outside.

When I wrote about March I was looking for a break. April wasn’t one. But maybe May will be. I’m not traveling, not even for fun. It’s sad when you’re too tired for a holiday, but that’s where I am now. It’s the run up to exams, and the beginning of the countdown till I go back to Texas for Summer. I’m not saying it will be stress-free, and someone told me today when looking at my calendar that my schedule looked ‘so busy’ when it’s the freest it’s been in months. I need to revise more, and I need to sort out details for leaving. But I also really need to take a break.

So this month I’m volunteering with kids, something I have missed a lot this year after two years of PALS. I’m staying in Lancaster, or at least not going anywhere I have to pack for. I’m being selfish. So here’s to May, and all that it’s going to bring.

Until then,

Alex

 

MARCH

**You’re kind of supposed to start ‘monthly’ things at the beginning of the year, but that would require me to have planned ahead, and know what I wanted to do with this blog. But since I’m not going to do weekly updates, I thing a monthly wrap up would be a good solution, and a nice way to look back. These will hopefully include the highlights, the hard parts, and an ~emotional~ look back at the month**
It’s a few days past the end of the month (aka my birthday) and I’m writing this on a train to London for Enactus Nationals. I’ve also been back in the country less than 24 hours and am lacking in sleep and feeling a bit ill. I’m trying to take some time to look back at what as honestly an incredible month, with some big highs, some really hard days, and what really feels like personal growth.
This month began with the end of my trip to Romania, and ended with the start of a week in Lisbon with my family. I don’t know what else I could want in a month. March is always one of my favourite months. It’s Women’s History Month, it includes International Women’s Day, a whole bunch of birthdays including my own, and honestly it’s kind of just at a good place in the year. It’s the start of spring (also spring break, which would make any month better) and the countdown to the end of the school year begins.
These were highs: the Romania trip, the success of our International Women’s Day events, the Human Trafficking Conference we held on campus, and of course the trip to Edinburgh and Portugal. Things were successful, projects and ideas grew. Things were incredibly fun, I hosted panels and traveled to great cities. March was a blast.


March was also incredibly busy, busier than I really wanted in a lot of places. There were too many 12+ hour days, and not nearly enough days off. I feel like I never saw friends, and am a little surprised at the amount of school work that was actually done. I love being busy and involved, but things were incredibly hard this month. I spent a lot of time being frustrated about having to do things that I (technically) volunteer to do. Things that overall, I love. I can see that it’s because I have a tendency to over commit, and am very bad at delegating. I also know I have very high standards for myself, and applying those to everyone else isn’t always fair.
I’m trying to use all that frustration as a ‘learning experience’ for the next few months, and in the new roles I am taking on. I have to enjoy what I volunteer to do, I need to work on delegating, and most importantly when I delegate, I need to be clear about what I expect. And I probably need to be a little less hard on everyone in my life, including myself. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I felt like there was ‘personal growth’ in March, and I guess most of that comes from the big decision I made (explained in Being Selfish) about the role I would take on in Enactus next year. I had a lot of amazing support in making that decision, and I am ultimately so happy with it. The days around it were not so happy, and are a big part of why March was hard. It’s not all over, and there are a lot of questions about how things will go with the exec for next year. I can’t say I don’t sometimes, much less won’t in the future, regret the decision, but I know it’s important that I choose to spend my time doing things I love. And admin/business stuff? Not for me.

So March was good. I’d sum it up as a good month, partially from the distance from the hard parts I have now. I’m trying to learn how to only do as much I SHOULD, not how much I CAN do, and while March was not an example of that, I’ve got some good plans going into Summer term. Thanks March for the adventures, the fun, and the chances to grow. Thank you for an amazing 19th birthday. I’ve got one last year as a ‘teenager’ and I’m pretty excited to see where I am this time next year.

Until April,
Alex