Accidental Studying Abroad

It’s quite difficult to sum up one and a half years of my life into one post, one video, a playlist, or any form of media that I use to express myself. Half of me sees Burlington in a cold concrete, clear King-Krule’s-newest-album-blue way, in frigid temperatures and boring outfits and icicles hanging from every possible crevice, branch, and post. The other half remembers purple sunsets over multicolored mountains, thrift stores littered with drag, concerts every night, the cold-warm breeze on your face at the lake in late August. But what it really was is the mundane shit that I took for granted.

I really want a Sodexo bagel with strawberry cream cheese, or a chocolate croissant paired with Speeder and Earl’s hazelnut coffee, the corn tortillas from New World Tortilla, or the chicken and wild rice soup from the marketplace. I want to sit at my favorite study table overlooking the streams of students passing by merchants and club tables in the student center. I want to make myself a grilled cheese on Wednesday afternoons again, complete with the really fucking good local ingredients that we didn’t even have to pay for. I want to go to City Market and stare at the beauty products. I want to come home from work and talk to my roommate about everything that scares me. I want to ride the bus.

I am happy and sad that I didn’t know it was my last semester, or last week, even, at University of Vermont. Unlike studying abroad, I didn’t know when my time away would be up, which brings us to Amanda Thompson’s concept: accidental studying abroad. That’s what I did, I think. I mean, here I am going on and on about sunsets and dining hall food, it sounds like I went abroad for a few semesters or something and am being really overdramatic about it. I guess I didn’t really get a formal goodbye.

When I go back, it won’t even feel like my city anymore. No more walks to the bank, or ArtsRiot, or the waterfront. Walking into Monarch and the Milkweed or Outdoor Gear Exchange or the Lamp Shop will be what it is: just a visit. Not a part of my general routine. Not something I can shoot down the street to do on a Tuesday.

I guess I’ll find my Tuesday places here. Maybe it will be CVS. Maybe when it snows, the flakes will be so big and mesmerizing, and the sunset will be so purple that I can put on Sex Tourists by French Kicks and close my eyes and pretend I’m in Burlington. Maybe I can sit in the new museum, the one that I don’t know just yet, listening to Birds Don’t Sing by TV Girl and pretend that the edgy art students around me are just UVM students.

I wasn’t outdoorsy enough, I wasn’t weird enough, I wasn’t cool enough to fit in; all that stuff that rang through my mind constantly was bullshit. As much as I told myself all of that, it was still my city. I went to the farmer’s markets, whether it was with friends or by myself, and I went to the protests, and almost got a tattoo in the tattoo parlor, and I walked back from frat parties by myself at three AM, and hiked some mountains. I did the Burlington stuff. I did it all, and I didn’t even realize it.

I miss Waterman. I miss Lafayette. I miss Old Mill, especially the view of the lake from the fifth floor. I miss the ugly library, the gross Grundle, the gym that was way too far away from where I lived. I miss the one street that Champlain College had property on, it was just so beautiful. I miss slipping on ice going downhill and staining my jeans.

So yeah, I guess my thought now is “What was I thinking?”. But I know what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking. I was feeling. I knew that I just needed to go. And it complicated stuff for sure, and I’m not even sure if I like UConn all that much yet. It isn’t UVM for sure, but I’m paying $30,000 less so that makes sense. I only have to do a little bit more of college here, and then it’s all over. And I can make it good.

If I was at UVM right now, I would be writing this alone eating mac and cheese. But I’m not alone right now and had a salad for lunch, so I guess that counts. Emotionally, I’m doing so much better here. I feel less depressed. Maybe a bit lonelier, but I think that will go away. Because I’m getting what I really wanted, which is a second chance at college.

Maybe a side effect of being me is always wanting to leave wherever I am. My mom says I just love to travel, but I just really like leaving. I didn’t cry leaving UVM. I really liked leaving, to be honest. I don’t know why, because now I look back and start crying. But in the end, leaving always brings some good into my life. It was like that with flying to D.C. for the first time. I want to feel like that more often.

Maybe I’ll never feel comfortable where I am, or secure in my friendships. Maybe that’s another side effect. I think I wouldn’t have figured it out if I hadn’t left.

Thank you to the city of Burlington and the institution of the University of Vermont for housing me for 1.5 years. I couldn’t have done it without my favorite political science professor, my shitty freshman year roommates, the girls I met in my public speaking class, the guys I liked for no reason because I was bored, my friends I semi-hated, or Brianna.

 

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Eat more Annie’s mac and cheese, people

I had a very typical New Year’s Day: I woke up crying because I was insanely depressed, all I wanted was a bagel but my dad wouldn’t let me leave the house, so I grudgingly ate a hot dog instead and slept for the entire day.

Since my day was completely shit for the first few hours, I decided to just say fuck it and text all my friends from school that I was transferring to UConn because why not make everything worse? Then I changed my school on my Facebook about page to UConn. Then I listened to Lana Del Rey and cried more and fell asleep for the entire afternoon.

I woke up to a lot of well wishes and a lot of people that were sad that I was leaving. I seriously thought no one would care. Even the girl I was supposed to room with this year that completely avoided me the whole summer because she was transferring and didn’t bother to tell me liked my post. It’s kind of nice. I feel like I’m actually leaving something behind that is worth missing.

The senior in my Spanish class first semester freshman year even texted me. As soon as I saw her name pop up onto my phone I was so excited. She had transferred to UVM from University of Maryland for her sophomore year because as much as she didn’t mind Maryland and made a few friends, she didn’t feel herself there. She’s graduated now and lives her best life hopping from European country to European country and wearing cool scarves. It gives me hope.

I have no idea where my life is going to take me. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable or happy or consistent, but I really hope I do. I hope I ride more planes and eat more boxes of mac and cheese and smile at strangers walking down the street. I hope I walk into Walgreens and have conversations with the employees about their days because they actually do care about stuff like that. I hope that three years from now I’d have gone on a life changing trip to somewhere I’d love to live one day. I hope I show up to my five year high school reunion really overdressed and get drunk off of half a glass of wine.

Maybe it’s my fault, but everything in my life feels really unstable right now. All of my relationships with people seem really hopeless and I know that it’s just my negative, small thinking but someday soon I’ll get the bigger picture. I don’t know what to expect from anyone or anything. Absence of expectations scares the shit out of me because I always have expectations. I had expectations for New Years Eve that fell short. I ended up looking weird not wearing a bra with my dress, my makeup looked terrible because my cheeks were flushed, and I cried more often than I intended to.

A lot of times I say things that I know are overly dramatic or send texts knowing people won’t respond or care. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I over complicate my life. I don’t know why I constantly cry over dumb things like not being able to get a Cohen’s bagel. I don’t know why I can’t just reassure myself that everything will be okay. That not everyone loves me. That sometimes I’m just too much for people. And it’s fine.

I hope in 2018 I can stop living in my head. It seems like I don’t because I’m social and always wanting to be doing something, but so much goes on inside my head that I don’t ever talk about. Mostly because it’s hard to talk about this stuff, because a lot of people I know wouldn’t get it. But I do know people that would get it. I hope I feel endlessly inspired regardless of how uninspiring I think the world is.

I knew 2017 would be hard and it was and now it’s over. I can’t put a word to how 2018 is going to be but it is going to be just that. A lot of warmth. A lot of becoming an adult. A lot of doing what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

And I’m also going to pretend that January 1st doesn’t count. If today is any indication as to what 2018 will be like, it will just be filled with chocolate and sleeping in the middle of the day and eating pasta. Well maybe that isn’t so bad.

2018 Resolutions

  1. Maina, you have a 0.0 GPA right now. Please do not screw that up. Get over a 3.0 please.
  2. Spend money on your passions. Buy more paint, buy more used books, buy more pens when you run out of the ones you use for your journal. Buy more film cameras.
  3. You are already aware that you are special and beautiful and amazing, so stop trying to prove it to everyone else because they should already know.
  4. Make more mixtapes for your friends, and let them know you’re thinking of them often.
  5. Finally find some peace with your body. Go to the gym with Riley. At first you’re going to look dumb and fat but eventually you won’t.
  6. Improve the blog. Buy a domain name. Post bi-weekly. Whenever you’re thinking about boys or watching pointless youtube videos stop doing that and write a post.
  7. Make friends. Go up to random people and say hello. Pretend UConn is your senior year of high school. You run the place. Give people gum and compliment their shoes.