Tea Talk 7: Kelsey Robson | PhD Student (Ireland)

Kelsey and I met in college my last year at Seattle Pacific. We lived on the same dorm floor (1st HILL!) and I am more than a little happy to introduce her to y’all. Right now this powerhouse woman is getting her PhD in Ireland (yes, IRELAND) and I love seeing her updates about living in my favorite country. We haven’t been able to meet up any of the times I’ve been in Ireland, but that’s the dream. Cheers to the future on the Emerald Isle! In the meantime, here’s Kelsey:

What started your passion for traveling?

My passion for traveling started with my first big trip. I was 17 and went to India for two months with one of my close friends and her family. The experience was eye opening, not only was the language, landscape, and food different. The entire style of life was something I had never imaged. It made me want to see more, and learn about various perspective and life styles around the world.

What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Don’t be scared to change your plans! Give yourself time to explore a new place, meet locals, and ask what they suggested to do. You can get suck in tourist traps easily, and I do enjoy tour and museums. Still my favorite adventures have been ones I haven’t planned.

What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up (ex. food dishes, lifestyle changes etc.)

Tea and biscuits! In Ireland and the UK people love their tea. I would have never had tea breaks before I moved. Now after a long day sitting down with a cup of tea and a chat is a must!

What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

Don’t be scared to do it alone! The fear of traveling alone as a women can be very limiting. Be smart leave contact info for friends and family and make sure you check-in regularly. Traveling alone can be an empowering experience. You will meet more people and gain a sense of independence that is truly freeing.

What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

I feel I fail to stay connected with others back home. It is something I truly struggle with, not from lack of love or caring. I simply get distracted and lose track of time.

I constantly set alarms to make calls and send messages to let people back home know what I am up to and check in on there lives, but it is a weakness I’m constantly trying ton improve.

What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

Change, I’ve always hated change; I become complacent very easily. Now I feel that I crave constant change in my life. The thought of stagnancy now scares me more then constantly moving or traveling to new places.

What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile?) and why?

Plane, two reasons. I love the fact that you can get on a plane, take a nap and wake up in a completely different place in no time! Also the view! Have you ever seen the sunset while in the air, or flown over the clouds, or seen city lights from above. It’s unreal!

What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

Don’t be scared to do what you think is right. Advice given from others, no matter how good hearted, it may not be what is right for you. Sometimes you just need to jump on a plane and go exploring, no matter how impractical!

What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

Sicily, Sun, beaches and Italian cuisine, it may be cliché but that sounds like a perfect holiday!

Let’s talk about your current trip! What was your inspiration for your adventure?

I moved to Ireland almost three years ago to study, then stayed to work, with the advantage of being able to travel around Europe easily. Now I recently moved to Northern Ireland for a PhD program. I believe if you are career driven you still have plenty of opportunity to travel the world!
What has been the best/toughest part of your current trip?

Being away form family. I love hanging out with my parents and going to all my cousins birthday parties. But I only get home once or twice a year, its hard to be away from the people you love.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your current trip?

I’ve learned how to drive on the other side of the road! Sometimes it’s still scary, especially for my passengers, but I’m getting the hang of it! haha

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from this trip?

You learn how strong you are when you are away for long periods of time. I’ve had to learn how to drive, medical systems, education systems etc which is frustrating when it is different from what you know. But you just keep going and realize everything can be resolved in strides.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t wait just do! I find myself over thinking my ‘next trip’ constantly. But sometimes you have to stop over analyzing if it is the right time, take a chance, and explore!

Advertisements

2014: The Year Of Courage

544599_10202263155873713_642069163_n
My New Years Resolution from last year for 2014

Although Facebook has tried to “review” my year, I’m not satisfied because this year was ridiculously packed with good, bad and everything in between. So, sorry Facebook but here’s MY review of my year.

January: I spent an amazing New Years Eve with best friends while being hit on by a Norwegian guy who couldn’t take a hint. I had my septum pierced and it was awesome. Complete with a mohawk, freshly painted tattoo and rebellious piercing – I’d say I was kind of a badass.

1486773_10202248499467312_1040179219_n

1535675_10202197042700925_1254030781_n
Dec 25th 2013
1620887_10202461818680159_386142236_n
I started working at the Boys And Girls Club!

February: I signed up on an au pair website as a joke, and signed a contract 1 week later. Careful what you wish for. Valentines day was ridiculous, and spent with some pretty awesome friends that I seriously miss.

1654347_10202420444285825_1152181389_n 1898052_10202556118237589_1799727573_n

March: I learned that my friends are way cooler than people I was trying to impress. Sisters before misters, ladies. Never forget.

1525346_10202825739337948_1579593692_n
One of the best friends I could ever ask for.
66848_10202849192364259_758404539_n
One of my friends had a BABY!!!

1660285_10202655062031122_2009325527_nApril: My big brother and I were reunited. I always forget I’m related to people, until I get around him. It’s absurd. I went to my first Sounders game. It was pretty cool, but the people I went with made it way cooler.

984029_10202938957408329_2285092849423330472_n988872_10203031577003761_5003727285002521486_nMay: I was a nanny for a family that, in many ways, I felt closer to than my own. They were incredible and I was so blessed for being able to work/live/laugh/learn/be crazy with them for over two years.

10403273_10203246959468188_4260201586568979666_nJune: We lived and we laughed, and we sailed on boats.
We learned what loss was. We were shaken, but we weren’t moved. Our family was tested, but we stood together stronger than ever. #PrayForSPU

10394053_10203324687691345_622982261816138175_n
Two of my very favorite people in the world.

10367186_10203312147977860_6219276974129877950_n 10470607_10203338111866941_8181872386130881073_n

July: I painted my heart out, I hosted a billion people from Couchsurfing and enjoyed the hippieness of my hometown. I met a boy from Germany who loves to cycle around the world. 10456011_10203351752407946_3655178518403346691_n 10360557_10203439734327439_9000043357953367137_n10513315_10203503567643232_6590504214116406302_nAugust: I went to San Francisco (July also). Twice. French politics. But I made some amazing friends from around the world. A bunch of nomads coming together for 48 hours making a little family of memories.

10410367_10203554611799304_7726113398360726081_n 1610759_10203713140962434_3692547716058947034_n 10450930_10203540610169272_4775110260718380964_n

September: I made a ridiculous adventure to get to France, including four airports (late August) and landed in central France. Literally the middle of nowhere. I became friends with a Spanish girl who gave me the courage to stand up for myself.

10610864_10203913858020235_6246934693973363388_n 10478565_10203853603313905_7225285591827211885_n 10703670_10204093702396232_1306254136907240779_nOctober: I moved to PARIS!! I made new friends and had a ridiculous Halloween with my two crazy boys. 10676184_10204398659979981_14974249356388717_n

10730952_10204307034129392_696922551305332530_nNovember: We made Thanksgiving happen and I got to host all of my beautiful new friends as we all made our homesick way through (for many of us) our first holiday away from home. We learned that family doesn’t just mean DNA.

1960021_10204579394978243_3369406391336516013_n

December: We finally started to feel like we could find our way around France. Maybe this life could work. Maybe the leaps of faith weren’t as ridiculous as people said. Maybe we could come out of this stronger, wiser and happier than when we went in. Just maybe, we weren’t quite as crazy as people thought.

1528591_10204755801748302_6677248749756096313_n

 

2015: TO BE CONTINUED….

f3376e7485b6aebc1fac6e8f300ba290

Even Heroes Get Homesick

DSC_1200
Paris, France

“But all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find, nor remember what it looked like.”

Right now I’m making my way through the forever-favorite book, The Hobbit. I know, I know, all the rest of you read it in 7th grade when you were sporting rainbow braces, but I was off busy doing something else, and never had the chance. With the movies coming out, though, I decided to make it my book for the summer (one of a few).

Obviously it isn’t summer anymore. So I guess I didn’t quite make my deadline…but I’m still determined to finish the book, and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision.

One of my favorite things about J.R.R Tolkein is that, when he writes, he doesn’t romanticize the struggles of the adventures (which, personally, I think kind of makes it more romanticized, in a way). Throughout The Hobbit, again and again and again, he writes that Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit longing for home. No matter where he is, how good or bad things seem to be going; he remembers the tranquility of his hobbit hole and longs for it.

I don’t know about you guys, but I often find myself reading books that seem to coincide exactly with the kind of encouragement that I need. Or maybe, I find the encouragement in the books I read, because I need it.

Regardless, if there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that: I love adventures. I love living them, I love writing them and I love hearing stories about them. I love holding my breath while watching adventure movies, getting caught up in narratives and being on the edge of my seat – eyes wide and ready for the grand conclusion.

This hasn’t changed from when I was a kid and I’d spend weeks reading stacks of books about people who took their circumstances and turned them into stories worthy of being passed down through generations. That’s what I wanted then, and what I live for now. I want my life to be a story I can read back to my children; something that will have them on the edge of their seats, anticipating the part when mom _________________ (fill in the blank).

Adventures aren’t just something I think are necessary, but essential for my life. I need to travel, explore and see new things. I need to have my breath taken away by landscapes and oceans, to meet incredible people and take my place among the millions of experiences the world has to offer.

But the perspective of an adventure can be pretty different when you’re in the middle of it vs. when you’re hearing it second hand. Hungry wolves chasing after you might sound exciting from the security of your living room, but while you’re actually running from them– breath staggering, panic stricken eyes wild with fear, it’s probably not quite the same feeling (although, I’ve never been chased by wolves, so correct me if I’m wrong).

As humans, it’s in our nature to romanticize the past. We tell embellished stories (especially in my family) of what happened, who was there and how many obstacles there were; a foot long puddle turns into a raging river, a 10-inch trout becomes a 60-foot whale.

The stories get passed down from one person to another and then to another and another, until nobody even knows, for sure, what the facts are. As the details trickle down, from one person to the next, details get lost and scrambled in translation – especially emotions such as fear or uncertainty; finally, we’re left simply with the grand tales of bravery – unaware that the hero or heroine was having panic attacks before they made their brave, life altering, world saving decision.

I know personally, when I look back, I have a habit of romanticizing my past.

Somehow things always seem better when they’re not in the present. Life seems so much more exciting in the future; so much more secure and certain in the past. But if I’m honest, I realize that just isn’t the case.

Right now, I’m struggling with a Bilbo Baggins mentality.

Maybe I don’t live in Middle Earth, but I would consider my life an adventure right now. I’m in a strange place, with a strange culture and language surrounding me. I have no idea what the next year of my life will entail. But, all in all, life is pretty great right now.

So why am I still longing for the past?

I love the family I’m working with, I couldn’t have asked for a better match in personalities, tastes, hobbies and general atmosphere.

BUT…here it comes: I’m homesick.

I don’t really want to admit it, because I thought maybe I would miraculously overcome nostalgia (and I did for about month) but this week the homesickness has been hitting pretty hard.

It’s not saying that I don’t love the adventure that I’m on. I’m making awesome friends, getting to try new experiences and generally loving life – but there’s still a part of me longing for my hobbit hole (aka Seattle).

I miss friends, I miss my routine, I miss my bike, being able to call people up to go watch the sunset at Golden Gardens, or to WOW to drink bubble tea; I miss speaking and hearing English, and I miss being able to effortlessly talk to random people when I go out.

It’s expected and normal for us to want what we had before, whether it was bad or good, it was known. And who wouldn’t want to be somewhere they know over somewhere uncertain?

But right now, I’m reminding myself of the beauty in learning to love something I’m uncomfortable with. And let me tell you – sometimes it is VERY UNCOMFORTABLE to be living in a country that is so different.

But that’s part of the adventure, right!?

I’m so thankful for all of you who have encouraged me, sent me mail (which seriously makes my week) and have generally uplifted me during this transition. I feel so lucky to have such an amazing community around me, and I’m excited for what’s up and coming in my life – even if it means missing my city a little in the meantime.

Seattle will always have my heart. And striking out into the unknown can be extremely intimidating at times. But I’m learning to accept the fact that even the greatest heroes and heroines sometimes find themselves longing for home.

10665711_10204172456965047_9015377252074158795_n
I found a beret at a Paris street fair. Needless to say: J’adore.

228af07451553167c6efbe0f0a01ccd1

Back On Le Train

26512_1374344912067_3839223_n
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Life has been crazy. I haven’t been blogging for the past couple of weeks because all the sudden my life shifted into fast gear and I kind of lost my footing for a bit. Summer has begun, and everything keeps chugging along. Work has been ridiculous – in good, but exhausting, ways.

My work day currently looks something like this:

6AM – Wake up

6:25 – Bus to work

6:45 – Arrive at work

9:30 – Leave work and bus home

10:00 – 2:30 Paint/write/try to catch World Cup games/eat/study french

2:45 – leave for work

3:30 – 7:30 Nanny

8:00 – Come home, eat dinner, paint

10:30 – Go to bed (if I’m lucky)

Repeat.

Needless to say, it’s been pretty hectic.

Mais, c’est la vie.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Next week will be my last week working mornings, which is going to be fantastic since I can then actually stay up later than 10pm and get things done (I’m a pretty hard core night owl). Other than that, here are the top 5 things that have happened since I’ve written last!

lr1e9bj1qanfa412128280

1. France in the World Cup: Sorry if you’re not into soccer (and shame on you), but this had to be #1. France is making me proud with their football playing in the World Cup, and I’m so excited to be able to watch them play Nigeria on Wednesday! I was able to watch the France v. Switzerland game in a French café here in Seattle, with a bunch of French people, while eating French food – and it was the most magical day ever. Best friend dates are the greatest, huh?

2

2. Booked hostel in San Francisco: Booked my hostel and I couldn’t be more excited. I was going to couchsurf while I was in San Francisco, but since I’m going on a holiday weekend there weren’t very many options for places to stay. Also, the hostel is only 10 min walk from the French Embassy, which will make getting to my appointment easy – yay! I still can’t believe I have to go all the way to San Francisco to apply, finger crossing and prayers are completely appreciated that all of my paperwork will go through seamlessly. Otherwise I’m going to be in a bit of a pickle…I’ve never understood where that phrase came from.

3. French tutoring: My French tutoring is no more. It really is the most tragic thing ever, because I really liked my French tutor. But now he’s gone back to Paris, so I have no one to help me. Commence weeping. That being said, I am DETERMINED to keep studying and practicing French so I don’t fall back into the chasm of ignorance before jumping on a plane to Europe.

4. Sending email to church in Paris: This is more of a “I need to do this” but it’s finally time for me to start sending out emails and stuff to people in France so I can get con-nect-ed. I don’t know why I said it like that.

5. Quit my j-o-b…my second job. I have been passing out most days from exhaustion, so it was time to say goodbye to job number two starting next week. There’s just too much work to be done getting ready to leave, and I really want to be able to focus on spending time with my family and friends during the last month and a half (holy shit!) that I’m here. I’m still going to be subbing at the Boys and Girls club through August, but no more 6am wake up calls. Thank the Lord.

5.5. French Kiss: I watched this movie and it is a true gem of the 1990’s: corny and fantastic. It has Meg Ryan in it, so of course it is perfect. If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely must.

It feels so good to be back writing, again!

(only 51 days until I leave! Eek!)

-E