Journal #15, Some days

Some days, “exam revision” turns into “the weather’s so lovely today,”
and “I should really finish this paper,” becomes “you feeling ice cream?”
Long hours hunched over books have to make space for hours sat in silence on the docs, phrase structure grammar admits defeat to sea gulls and the sound of lazy waves, and I can feel myself take a deep breath.

Some days. Some days. Days like today.
When hands clutch ice cream cones instead of pencils
and “to do” lists are called “today I may” lists,
those days I like to stop for a second,
lap up some early April sun with closed eyes and a relaxed jaw,
and remind myself
that life is pretty great.


-Andrea

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Journal #14, The sounds of a new home

I’ve gone to sleep in a new bed tonight. I’ve moved houses again; another student flat, another shoebox room. There is something mindful about the process of moving from one space to another – about taking all of your books off of your shelf and putting them into boxes, holding onto some you may not have looked at since you read them and receiving gentle reminders of future reads you may have forgotten about. Folding every item from your closet, and carefully lifting all the pictures down from your walls. Taking a second to really look at all the things you surround yourself with every day, and properly contemplate on what elements are gonna be allowed to come with you to this new home.
That is, until you feel like you’ve done nothing but pack for the last week, and just chuck everything in a big box labelled “unsorted” to finally be able to move on with your life.

I was excited about this move. Tomorrow marks the first day of semester two on this “new” BA, (I’ve got to stop referring to it as new at some point, but today is not that day), and I’ve moved back into student accommodation. It’s nice to be closer to campus, and in a weird way, it feels right to be out of my little house, to be living in just one room again. I absolutely loved living there, but this feels more student-y, more like a cosy little space that’s 100% mine, and suddenly all the things I longed to get away from about student accommodation a year ago, feels oddly comforting.

But this little flat has a lot of new sounds in it, just like all new living spaces do. There is creaking in the walls, and a sort of drone coming from somewhere in the ceiling that I’ve yet to identify. There are new people walking outside, new voices and thoughts, and different winds whipping. Also, I’m back to having a flatmate again, and though the soft sounds of someone moving around in the next room are comforting, it’s also something you need to get used to again, every time you’ve been living without it for a while.

This semester is gonna be good, and living in this flat is gonna be great. My flatmate seems lovely, and in contrast to my last flats that I’ve shared with 9 other people, it’s just me and one other student this time. I also really like how my little room looks and feels, and it’s a nice space to make cosy and homely, but the first night in any new place is always weird.

So for tonight, I’ll put on a playlist with songs that sound like a Tuesday evening at home, get some fresh pyjamas out of a soon-to-be unpacked suitcase, curl up in familiar bedsheets and let myself feel a little bit small for just a moment. It’s not a bad feeling, not like being scared or unsure or really homesick, it’s just the feeling of things changing around you. Nothing marks change like new living spaces; a new degree or a new job, a new city, maybe even a new country. But I’ve made many a flat feel like home before, and this one won’t be an exception.

I’m excited for what is to come.

-Andrea

Journal #13, The magic of the Ginger Bread

The sound of family that haven’t seen each other for too long fills the living room. Bright smiles, Christmas socks and the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven. Gingerbread dough is snuck into mischievous mouths, tongues stuck out at whoever dares point it out – quick fingers coated in flour and butter, sticky but sweet tasting, just how these December days are supposed to be. It’s the annual family gingerbread day, where we bake enough cookies to carry us through the winter; when the house smells like cinnamon and cloves and ginger and dark, shining syrup; when the stereo churns out Christmas song after Christmas song, every single one linked to a memory, a party, an evening or just a moment.

Worries about presents and that last exam are gone as the third musician of the night sings songs about chestnuts and fires and Jack Frost nipping at noses.
These Christmas traditions are things we all share. The Christmas Crazy that sets in every December 1st and makes young and old suddenly crave satsumas and mulled wine and all the other things you never even think about during the other eleven months of the year. The Christmas Crazy that sometimes leaves you running about endless shopping centres, but just as often reminds you to sit quietly by the window to listen to the whispers of snow gently falling.

Eleven people are gathered around the table, cups of coffee and tea are lining the window sills. The table isn’t for coffee cups, the table is for working. There shouldn’t be enough room for everyone to roll out their dough, to stamp out gingerbread angels and stars, but there always is. Around this table, there is room to grow, there is space for everyone. An evening like this one gathers us all, and around this table there is room for quirks, for habits and traditions, for the weird and for the wonderful, for emotions, for the happy.
We sing along, we dot our noses with flour. We taste the cookie dough and revel in the smell wafting from the oven. Everyone’s hard at work, and like every year, Christmas comes running when we invite it in.


Like every year, the magic of the Ginger Bread ensures that the Christmas fairytale stops by our house too. Like every year, the Christmas Crazy ensures that Christmas hangs up its coat and takes off its shoes, and makes itself proper at home.

-Andrea

Journal #12

Lazy Sunday mornings are for warm beds and woolen socks, for stretching and for relaxing. They are for opening the curtains and letting the sun in, for cracking open the window, just a little bit, to feel one of those fresh October breezes go past. They’ve got time for long breakfasts and jazz on the radio, for twirling around the kitchen while your toast is getting ready.

Sundays are for soft shirts and your hair in a bun. They are for no makeup, for being cosy in the corner of the sofa, for blankets and cushions and for scented candles. Sundays are for cups of tea. Steaming, fresh, Indian chai, blueberry muffin, cinnamon and apple, all those flavours you need to sit down and savour, that you can’t just rush in a travel mug on the way to uni. Sundays are for writing lists and plans and notes in multicolored pen, and hanging them all around your flat for yourself to find later on in the week. To do lists are always kinder when written on a Sunday.
They are also for music. For songs that make you feel like home, for songs where the bass hits your spine and makes you jump on the sofa, for songs that make you sing so loud the neighbors might come knocking.
Sundays are for catching up. All the things you couldn’t do during the weekend, Sundays are ready to pick up the slack. Sundays see buttons sown back on shirts left waiting, missed reading done and laundry finished, folded and put into neat piles. Sundays see bedsheets changed and floors hoovered and books picked up that have been discarded for too long.
Sundays have got time for walks. For dressing up warm and holding hands, for finding places you’ve never seen and exploring areas you know and love.
They are for rosy cheeks and chilly noses, and blowing on your fingers to keep them warm.

And at the end of warm Sundays you get the lazy Sunday evenings. Sunday evenings are clean sheets and fresh pajamas and curling up in bed with your favourite podcast. They are your bag ready to be packed for uni tomorrow, fairy lights taped to the wall behind your bed and lavender candles lit on the dresser. Lazy Sunday evenings are gratitude for the week that has passed and anticipation for the week to come. They are for that last cup of tea, for face masks and aloe vera moisturizer and skype calls with your sister.

Lazy Sundays evenings are a good night’s sleep, and wishing a new week welcome.

-Andrea

Journal #11

I woke up with the sun today, a thing that practically never happens. At 7:28am I was on the bus to town, now it’s 8:58pm and I’m on my way back. On the way home, to my little house, filled with my teacups and my pyjamas and all my books neatly shelved.

Today’s been a long day, in the best possible way. I worked with a lot of girls today, all between the age of 8 and 11, who all have the ability and the imagination to change the world. The wonder in their fingertips, and the wit in their questions, cannot be described as anything less than bravery. They were so loud. They were shouting and they laughed, they ran in circles. I wonder when we stop doing that.

I’l started reading Harvey’s almost finished novella today, too. A couple of pages in now, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt; it’s a good one. It’s got the language, the characters and the melody in the text, that’s just so intrinsically him. I’m proud of him and what he’s doing, and I hope he is too. Can’t wait to see him again.

I’ve been on the bus for 6 minutes now, and we’re crossing the bridge. I don’t know when it started, but whenever we cross this one particular bridge I have to stop whatever I’m doing, I need to look up and take in the sea. Maybe it’s a homesick thing, longing for the fjord back home. Like feeling homesick, but without the sadness.

Today’s been a long day and this journal is a ramble, as you’ve already recognised. There’s been a lot of people, a lot of thoughts, a lot of ideas and a lot of impulses, and I figured a journal post could function as a place to compartmentalise it all, to work it through in my head.

Yeah, there’s been a lot of people today. First all the kids, then dinner with friends from the course, then litter picking along the beaches and some film watching with this environmental organisation in the evening. These last few weeks have been filled with a lot of people. Lucky me, though, I’ve got to meet the most wonderful people down here. Clever, intelligent, funny and caring friends, who I can’t wait to get to know even better.

I woke up with the sun today, and will go to bed long past it setting. I’m heading home to my teacups, my pyjamas, my books neatly shelved, to finish up the last piece of an assignment. First though, a cup of tea is needed; a moment to ponder over all the good things life has thrown at me lately. There has been a lot of them.

-Andrea

Journal #10

Written 14th of August 2018.

It’s close to ten on a Tuesday morning and this week has already lasted a lifetime. Not a bad kind of lifetime, yesterday was just a day full of information, impulses and experiences, of new beginnings and new people. I moved into the new flat on Sunday, and then uni started yesterday. Lots of awkwardly shaking hands before we got a bit more comfortable with our course mates, and what started off as a guided tour around campus where only the guide did the talking, soon became us chattering excitedly over a couple of beers later last night. We sought refuge in a tent, huddled in jumpers, while Cezinando played on the stage a hundred meters away and the sun was setting behind us. 

I’ve gotten the buses down in this new place now. I know that wherever I am in this city, the M2 is always 20 minutes away, taking me either to uni or back home. I’ve figured out where the food shops are around the area I live in, and I’ve gotten lost on some new street corners. Only for a couple of minutes, of course, I did quickly find my way back, but you know, it wouldn’t be “Andrea Moves Into A New City” without getting a bit lost on the way to the shops once or twice. 

The flat is wonderful. A fully furnished, proper retro piece straight out of the 70s. I’m renting it from some lovely people who only live here a couple of months every year, and it has a vibe of instant cosiness the minute you step in the door. I really lucked out on this one, I’m aware, but after living in rather noisy uni halls for three years, having a kitchen all to myself and knowing that the only noise I’ll hear is my own, is such a blessing. It’s also nice to be able to move from room to room; to eat at a kitchen table, relax in a living room, do work at a desk, and sleep in my bedroom, not having to cram everything into my tiny bed like I had to do in halls. I know living small in tiny shared spaces is the student experience, and I am glad I got to experience that for three years, but having this space and the feeling of solitude it brings with it, is absolutely wonderful. Also, not going to lie, I’m a little bit done with sharing a kitchen with nine other freshers. 

It’s almost ten on a Tuesday morning, and here I am. Still chilling under the duvet, in a room brightly lit by a nice window that I can keep open at night because of how quiet this neighbourhood is. Harvey is here too. He’s been wonderful to have around, what with the wedding and the moving and now getting started at a new uni. A constant, something safe.
I don’t have lectures today, so instead, I’m ticking things off my newly started checklist, and I’ve made a cup of tea. In a minute I’ll get up, shower, have some breakfast and totter around a flat that I’m not sharing with nine first-year students. Then I’ll get on a bus I’ve gotten familiar with and drive a really pretty route to the uni. I’ll meet nice people, figure out some more practics of this academic year, and later tonight, head to another party to keep getting to know people.

Life’s pretty good today and I have a feeling it’ll stay that way for a while.

-Andrea

Journal #9

I’ve always been a big fan of planning. I get my bus tickets in advance and show up at the airport three hours early. Making sure you’ve planned your journey well ensures that you won’t get stuck on any small, nameless bus stations, and it helps you be prepared for whatever you’ll encounter on the way. Plans also provide you with a great opportunity and a reason to be excited! Looking forward to something is half the fun of it, and intricate planning means you can prolong the joy for however long it takes you to plan.

Before I started uni in Winchester I wanted to be at the metaphorical airport which was my higher education, early. I started planning my degree abroad two years prior to my first year, and spent all of August 2013 to September 2015 looking up Winchester online and in travel books. I read about the uni and the course and my future lecturers, and I got books I knew people had used on the course in earlier years. I also got in contact with a couple of current students at the uni, who were oh so kind and guided me through my chaotic worries and confused thoughts. They answered all my questions, anything from ATMs to walking distance-grocery stores. All information I could gather was neatly penned into a small blue notebook with pink sprayed edges; my “Winchester Departure Bible”.

Come September 2015, I was prepared for departure. I had written packing lists for months, I knew exactly what flat I was moving into and who were moving in with me, I had prepaid tickets for multiple events all throughout freshers week. The airport found me early, a little scared, a little stressed, but mostly so excited and very well-prepared. At least, as prepared as you can be to move to a different country.

Fast forward to 26th of July 2018. I survived the Winchester adventure, and now I’ve got a Creative Writing BA(Hons) in my pocket. Winchester was scary, challenging, wonderful and confusing, and an experience I’ll take with me forever. In 17 days, however, I’ll be in a new city, in a temporary flat, nervous and jittery for my first day of a new BA. A new three years of studies, new people, a new uni. And I’m so excited. I applied for this BA in February, but after a lot of thinking, decided to not go for it if I got accepted. Instead I made plans for temporary solutions, job applications, volunteer work, making money, saving money. However, when the results came through I couldn’t get the feeling of needing to at least give it a try out of my head.

This might be my opportunity to rid myself of this extreme planner inside of me; maybe this is the time I learn that every change that happens in my life can’t be planned three years in advance, that I can show up at the airport with only two hours to spare. And if I can’t get rid of the planner, maybe I can make her take a little break for time to time. I’m starting a BA called Translation and Intercultural Comunications and a lot of the modules are subjects I’ve never tried my hands on before; I’m going in more or less blind. I feel unprepared, but so ready. I’ll get lost on the first day, I might get the wrong books or hold the map the wrong way around. But there’s nothing I can do that can’t be fixed, I’ve just got to jump in the deep end and see what happens this time. I’m nervous, but it’s a good nervous that’ll lead to loads of change, growth and personal development. Hopefully.

17 days until there’s new ground under my feet.

Bring on three new years. Bring on not being as prepared as I’m used to. Bring on a new adventure. I think I might be ready.

-Andrea