Lessons from London

I haven’t written anything on my blog since February. So, I’m not even really sure where to start. How do you condense 12 countries worth of adventures, 5 months of life changing experiences and a lifetime’s worth of amazing memories into a blog post that people actually want to read?

Let me tell you, you don’t. If you stop reading now, I won’t be upset. I probably would to.

If you do want to keep reading, here’s how we’ll do this post. I’ll tell you the 5 things I learned during each of my 5 months here. And then I’ll update you all on what’s next.

 

Okay. Here we go.

 

Lesson from January: There is so much to be said for doing something new everyday.

One goal I set for study abroad was to do something new every day. I was really really good about this in January because I was trying to soak up every inch of London. It made all the difference for me because every day became a new adventure. Every morning, I was waking up more and more excited for what the day held. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle of routine. And trust me, the Type-A side of me, really really appreciates a good routine. However, January taught me that I get so much joy from keeping things fresh and exciting.

 

Lesson from February: Good friendships are invaluably important.

February was the month of making friends. Well… friend (singular) is probably more accurate. I basically spent all of study abroad with one person, Alyssa. I remember meeting her and immediately thinking, this girl is going to become one of my best friends. And sure enough, she did. I am incredibly thankful to have met and spent 6 months hanging out with one the most simultaneously crazy fun and wicked smart people I’ve ever met.

As much as February was about making new friends, it was also about keeping the old. My first trip outside of England was to Florence with my best friend from Brown, Melissa. Traveling with people can either make or break a friendship. And traveling to Florence with Melissa definitely made our friendship. Florence was really a dream. And I’d love to tell all the stories from that trip but my mom reads this blog, so ask me about it later lol.

ANYWAY, I’m so thankful for these two girls and can’t imagine doing study abroad without them.

 

Lesson from March: I am my mother’s child.

March was the first time I stayed in a hostel. My mom always told me not to but I BLATANTLY ignored her because I thought I could rough it and be like every other normal person. But alas, I am my mother’s child. Turns out, the hot sweaty, pepperoni pizza smelling room filled with 6 other sleep talkers and mouth breathers was not for me.

Before this experience, I spent so much time actively trying to be the opposite of my mom. But every time I tried to different, I realized how much more I am like her. And not only that, but how lucky I am to be even a little bit like her. As I’ve matured and really taken a good hard look at myself, I’ve realized that I don’t give my mom enough credit. She is an incredibly strong, beautiful and intelligent woman with such a creative and nurturing spirit. I’d be lucky to become half the woman she is. (Miss you so much if you’re reading this)

 

Lesson from April: THE WORLD IS MY FREAKING OYSTER

Sorry that last one was a lil’ sappy. Had to do it y’all. Anyway, back to it. I traveled SO MUCH during April. My family came to visit and we went to Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and France. I am incredibly lucky to have a family that will travel thousands of miles to visit and tour around Europe with me for two and a half weeks.  That trip really made me realize that there is such a big world out there and as cheesy as it sounds, it is just waiting for me to come explore it.

 

Lesson from May: Sometimes you have to just do it.

Although I spent the last part of April and the first part of May completing assignments and studying for exams, the rest of the month was honestly amazing. Mel and I were on the phone one day and decided to book a last minute trip to Lisbon. I remember staring at the plane ticket to Lisbon that was about to cost me around 200 dollars. And then a little voice in my head screamed “DO IT KELSEY”. Then, I clicked purchase and it was done. I felt bad about that one for a while… BUT, that trip was easily one of the best ones of all of abroad. We didn’t do anything really special but I had an amazing time exploring one of the most beautiful countries with my best friend.

Shortly after I got back from Lisbon, I got to go visit one of my littles, Taylor, (#KD #AOT) in Berlin. I was honestly such a brat in Berlin because I was tired and on my period (sorry Tay and Alyssa). BUT, one of my favorite things I did abroad was go to a nude beach outside of Berlin. I was so keen on going and then when I got there I was like Do I really want to be naked in front of all of these people? Then my inner voice kicked in again and screamed YES, DO IT. And I did. It was honestly so liberating and wild and so not a big deal. But I think that sometimes we build things up in our heads so much that we psych ourselves out. Listen up and listen good everyone, this is important. When you’re on the brink of greatness (or of a nude beach) and you start second guessing yourself, listen to that voice in your head telling you to DO IT. And go for it. You (most likely) will not regret it.

 

June: LIFE UPDATE INSTEAD OF LESSON

No lessons from June because it has yet to unfold. But, I can tell you what I’ve got coming on the horizon. I will be spending the summer in Ghana again (if you’re gonna be there, HMU) as a Global Health Scholar. What does that mean you may ask? It means I convinced Brown University that I am qualified enough to conduct my own research this summer. Low-key, they played themselves for real but it’s fine. Everything is fine. Anyway. This summer, I will be back in Akwatia conducting research on sociocultural barriers and facilitators to HIV care adherence.

To be honest, there were two reasons that I applied to this program. The first was because I wanted a reason to go back and pursue this boy who ended up leaving the country so jokes on me I guess lol. And the second was because another boy told me that my lack of qualifications made me a bad candidate for the program. If you know me, you know that I hate being told that I can’t do something. So naturally, I needed to prove him wrong. So I applied. And I got it.

I hate that my reasons for applying for this grant were fueled by my immaturity. But, if it weren’t for that immaturity, I would have never pushed myself to pursue this. I’ve spent my entire three years at Brown studying the intersection between culture and health. And this project will be the culmination of years spent in the basement of the library cramming for exams and cranking out papers. This is all I’ve ever wanted to learn about and now, I am finally getting the opportunity to conduct my own research on it. I am INCREDIBLY thankful for this opportunity and how God has literally pulled through every step of the way.

So that is my life update. I hope that this has made up for me not posting anything for 6 months. I will try to be better this summer.

 

With so much love,

Kels

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