One month down, Eleven more to go

It’s February 1st today, and January felt like it lasted a year.

I started this month at home, with Harvey visiting from England. From then and until now, I’ve moved flats and gotten settled, started up a new semester of my BA, found out that I really really enjoy my degree, received marks and got As on all my exams (!!) and with some lovely people, I’ve done a lot of work, both at uni and outside of uni.

Last year I filmed a second everyday, from January throughout July. A lot of stuff happened during those months, and I love to look back on those clips now – to see how much can change in a short amount of time. Watching the days slip by as seconds also really do put things into perspective.

This year, I’m gonna try again, and this time I’ll see if I can do a whole year, now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do six months.

So, without further ado, here’s my January! It may not look all that eventful to you when you watch it, but it’s been a good one.

Hope this first month of 2019 has been kind to you!

Have a wonderful day,

-Andrea

“Sophie’s Adventure”

In lack of proper wine glasses, we improvise with teacups,
and as the shutter of a Polaroid camera goes off,
she’s pouring rosé,
small, pink oceans, bubbles and light storms in our glasses.

We’ve made a cave of my uni room,
filled every nook and cranny with silly laughs and fairy lights,
hot chocolate scented candles,
and unfamiliar words in both our languages.
Words we hope’ll make sense
when English just doesn’t cut it as our middle man,
when the words of home become impossible to translate,
– so we let her German paint pictures in the air,
and Norwegian show off all the words it has borrowed;
we meet in the middle.

There are some things you just cannot learn in your home country.

Dreams are dreamt up tonight.
Plans for all the cities that are yet to be seen,
Northern Lights still to be chased,
the cross stitches of who we’d wish to be one day hopefully coming together.
Everything navigated in between sips of pink and the idea of fairy story cities.    

There are no thoughts that cannot be put into words,
no words that cannot be sown into these blankets,
and the four years separating us don’t keep our musings from dancing,
from twirling,
from harmonising to the same melody.

Because, in the strangest way, it’s like she is me three years ago,
just with a dollop more maturity it took me an extra year to obtain.
Alone in a new country,
figuring it out on her own.
We talk about being lonely;
we talk about that empty feeling of evenings on your own, beating yourself up for not living your adventure abroad to the fullest,
and of the nights that last forever, where you’re surrounded by friends and this new country feels like where you were supposed to be all along,
We talk about how that’s okay.

And we agree that on those days, whether the sunset reaches us before we’ve even gotten out of our beds,
or if 4 am finds us in the middle of a favourite song,
we’ll pour the rosé in our tea cups again,
raise a glass to ourselves and our empty rooms
and celebrate.

There are some things you just cannot learn in your home town.

Because there are so many people to meet,
so many friends to make, hands to shake, eyes to get to know.
So many languages to learn, so many wines to taste and teas to test,
so many pictures to take, that need their own space in an album somewhere,
or hung above a bed,
the memories of your own fairy tales lulling you to sleep.

So many stories, of the adventures that are waiting.
So let’s raise a glass to that.

-Andrea

Journal #14, a little life update

Hey, you!

I’ve missed posting bits and bobs on this blog lately and really hope to get back into it again, soon! Uni’s taken over my life a little bit at the moment, but the last month or so has been a really good one. Crazy busy, but good.

The last few weeks I have been lucky enough to:

find the world’s smallest cinema screen with a good buddy
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visit too many Christmas markets for it to still be the first week of December


do some translation and interpretation jobs
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enjoy some very light snow img_7762

have some late nights fighting off a cold
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study for multiple exams (currently done with 1 of 4)
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do a lot of stand work with a charity I care about
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make a makeshift Christmas tree out of a tiny plastic palm tree
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have some really good cake
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try and fail to make a gingerbread house with some wonderful peopleimg_7934

and have a lot of tea
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I haven’t managed to get in as much reading time as I was hoping, but still, I’ve got what I needed done. Plus, I’ve found a new flat from January on, and managed to decide on where to do work experience and where to study abroad next year! Back to England, I go, to work hopefully in Sheffield and to study in York.

I really want to make some more Christmassy posts throughout December! Both because I’m really excited for Christmas, and also to think about stuff that aren’t my exams.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“Part of the Architecture”

The sound of an organ woken from slumber
trickles out into the cold October night.
“Come on in, hear my tales,” it whispers,
as the streetlights catch on the Poor men’s Bible,
and the pitter patter of impatient feet echoes through the empty aisle.

The tales are of sneakers that blink with every step
and dress shoes that carry the weight of embraces that will never be.
Candle wax and sacred dust,
the footsteps of the faithful,
bake sale pies and sleepovers in the altar ring.

As life moves in circles,
as the village lives and dies;
as teeth fall out and love notes are hidden under the pews
we all come to learn that
God may not be resting in these walls,
but all of our stories are.

-Andrea

“To the woman on the bus writing music in the air”

The bus is quiet today,
with the breath of only a small dozen commuters fogging up the glass.

I’m catching up on some reading,
highlighter between my fingers,
taking notes in my head,
knowledge sporadically thrown into the compartments of my mind.

Next to me, a lady is scribbling on a piece of paper.
She hums and taps her fingers,
bites the inside of her cheek and narrows her eyes.
Her hair is falling in front of her face,
a pencil’s stuck in between neat lips.
Her fingers are writing out music the rest of us aren’t allowed to her
just yet.

She’s balancing sheet music on her knees,
only stopping momentarily to conduct the choir in her mind.
It looks like a big one.

I’m cramming last minute facts into my reluctant brain,
wars and names and dates long passed.

She’s creating something wonderful,
music a small dozen commuters can only imagine,
just yet.

-Andrea

Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be – UoW Graduation 2018

Goals are a funny thing. Sometimes you set goals because you know you should, sometimes you set goals because it would be fun to try, and sometimes you set goals you’re not all that sure about.

Graduating didn’t really feel like a goal as I went into my first year of a BA in creative writing at the University of Winchester. It was too far away, not really relevant yet, the focus was on getting through day to day. When first-year came around, there were too many forms to fill out, too many notebooks to organise, too many hot chocolates to drink and assignments to write, to even think about the finish line; the handshake at the end of three years. September 12th 2015 saw too many nooks and crannies in the library, too many secret passageways in the main building, too many streets I had yet to wander down, to even have space for the hats and the gowns we would all don to celebrate these achievements of ours.
Then days became weeks, and semesters came and went.
I started to know Winchester as my city. Walking around its streets felt right, and just like that, with the challenges and the experiences uni life brought with it, graduating started to feel like a goal; one I knew I’d work hard to reach.

On Friday the 19th of October 2018, Winchester Cathedral was filled with the sound of high heels clacking against old stone floors, suit sleeves crinkled by nervous palms and grad gowns that kept falling down jittery shoulders. On Friday 19th of October, I graduated. The cathedral was bursting with excited graduands and uni staff in fancy clothing, with music, speeches and flowers, everything to celebrate three years of hard work. It was wonderful. I reached my goal, I finished my BA.

I have been trying to sit down and properly put into words what I’ve been feeling since then, but I’m struggling with finding the right ones (hence, one of the reasons why this blog has been very quiet for a while).
So for now, I figured I’d show you some pictures – just of us throwing our hats in the air and all in all looking rather fancy in our (too large) gowns. The words need a little more time, the enormity of the fact that my time at uni in Winchester has now officially come to an end hasn’t really hit me yet.
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What a day and what a ceremony.
Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be. We are all just getting started.

Hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“Lanterns and daisies and brave new ideas”

I don’t know whether it’s ironic or beautiful
to put cemeteries next to universities.

Lanterns flicker and glow in the night, leading the way
for students stumbling towards the bus stop.
Their voices are fluttering on local beer and cheesy pop songs,
as the grave lights light up
their hands, their shoulders, as two people
just turned 21
lean against the stone fence that circles the graves.

They’ll change the world one thought, one idea,
one maximal noun phrase at the time,
and tomorrow,
the daisies adorning the grave of someone who changed the world
with their own thoughts, their own ideas,
with their own two hands,
will rise towards the sun.

-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

Swimming at the deep end of an adverbial phrase and the challenges of learning something new

When was the last time you learned something new? Jumped in at the deep end, went in completely blind, arms open, eyes wide, to learn something you had no earlier knowledge or skills in?

I’m doing a new ba now, and I’m struggling. Not to the point of wanting to stop or give up, just to the point where I have to work harder than I have in years. It feels like I’m back in school, learning definitions by heart and practicing phrases and rules again.

This got me thinking about how I haven’t actually learned something completely new in a very long time. My last BA was definitely challenging, and I certainly got to develop new sides of myself and my “craft”. However, those sides were to some extent already there; they just needed honing, practice, to be cared for, seen and worked on. Now I’m studying grammar and politics and intercultural communication. Every day I’m learning new phrases, new words, new concepts and ideas that I’ve never heard of before. That is exciting! It’s difficult and frustrating but also so so interesting.

As kids we learned something new everyday. Even better, when we were kids, we were great at learning. We hadn’t yet gotten into the arms race that are having better marks than everyone else, we had no concept of always needing to be the best, there was so much less fear of failure. A scraped knee from learning to ride a bike only hurt until mum put a plaster on it and kissed it better. A glossary test gone wrong only meant going back over the words and nailing it next time. But as we grow older a lot of us lose the ability to look at learning as a process, we want to be the best at everything the first time we ever try. There is this notion of being a natural, we want to be great without needing practice, because practice is difficult and more so, practice makes you look bad, like you don’t know. This is of course not right at all. Practice doesn’t make you look stupid, it makes you look determined. And no one can know anything, unless they’re taught. If we were only ever supposed to do what we learnt as kids, so we never had to practice and “look stupid” as adults, we’d have a very small array of skills and experiences to pick from in our lives, and that, in turn, wouldn’t make us very well-rounded and happy people, would it.

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Yesterday I spent five hours at my dining table, pencil in hand and notebook in front of me, trying to make sense of in-depth sentence structure again. Subjects, adverbial phrases, demonstrative determiners, I know I’ve got it somewhere in my brain. I know a teacher from maybe eight or so years ago managed to lock it somewhere safe in my head, but it takes so much coaxing to get it out, to get those words back down on paper. Some of what I read was also completely new to me, linguistics on university level isn’t something I’ve got a lot of experience with. It took time, a lot of reciting out loud to myself, and a lot of tea.

But the feeling when I got it right! When I could highlight my answers, recite the rule and reason, and tell myself that I properly understood it; that was such a good feeling.

It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in years before this BA, but that I’ve been experiencing a lot these past couple of weeks. The feeling of being able to swim when you jump in the deep end, of keeping your balance when you go in blind, of seeing all the wonderful things the world throws at your open arms if you only widen them a little bit.
(Yes, I know I’m only talking about grammar right now, but the feeling still applies, haha)

I hope you learn something cool today!

-Andrea