I remember when I first choose to do a series of blog post for study abroad I thought how easy it would be.. welp.. as you can see my posting schedule has been off almost every single week I’ve been here because I’m really great at forgetting things.
Forgetting things is a pretty common symptom of ADHD, which I have. For example, about an hour ago I thought about how I needed to start writing a blog post because I was already late posting one. Than twenty minutes ago I remembered. After disappearing into the vortex of youtube/buzzfeed I awoke into a panic remembering this blog post.
To simulate what it’s like trying to concentrate with ADHD open these windows.
now watch this video while trying to recall your notes for your exam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5RdMvgk8b0
the final touch is to have someone repeatedly poke you at random intervals. There you have it! This is what living with ADHD is like.
I’m going to switch topics now. Do you care? Probably, do you have a choice? No. (This is also similar to ADHD)
I have 16 more days until I finally get to fly home and sleep in a bed that doesn’t cause me horrible stiffness and back pain. I am extremely excited. Honestly, I thought I was going to be a lot more sad than I am to leave the UK, but I am beyond ready to leave and get out. I’m not saying that I haven’t enjoyed my time here and that I didn’t have unforgettable moments with great friends while I was here. I love London, and my two flatmates, my creative writing course, Orindi’s deli, etc. but none of it can replace seeing my niece and nephew every day and spending my free time laughing with my 5 siblings. I miss the ease of connection, I can’t just ring my best friend, it’s a whole line of communication where we need to set up skype dates that fit into both of our schedules and different time zones. I am so tired of all the distance between everyone that I love, at times it is physical but the majority of the time but it’s more than that. We are in opposite ends of time and the world. Right now, I’m curling up in bed, probably going to go grab myself some tea and preparing for bed. Back home I would be just waking up from a nap or eating a really late lunch. Everything is so distant and so far away, I’m ready to be close to the people I love.
I will however, miss quite a bit about here and I have no doubt that when I go home I’ll be very sad that I can’t go to my flat mate Kats room and grab a cuppa.
Someone told me recently that I was “brave” because I plan to be a special Educator. Here’s why I have an issue with that: I don’t need to be brave to be a special Educator. I’m going to be put in a classroom with kids who have emotional or learning disabilities, not a room full of tigers. The idea that I will need to be brave only others and vilifies people with disabilities. They aren’t scary, they’re just kids. If anyone need bravery its my future students, the kids who repeatedly and at times purposely are forgotten about in the educational system because they are seen as a problem rather than a person with endless potential.
As someone who has several learning disabilities these sort of things hit home. I am not inspiring because of the demographic I plan to work with or am a part of. Don’t be inspired by the fact that the general idea is that LD kids won’t be successful in academia, so my bare minimum achievements wow you because you inherently think I am capable of less. For example, I got into multiple Universities with scholarships.. Pretty cool right? You don’t find that inspiring right. But get this, I’m learning disabled…… Suddenly my achievement is inspiring. And why would this be inspiring? Because the expectation of LD students is that they will barely graduate highschool, let alone go on to attend higher education. This is what I like to call “The Forest Bump Affect”. The expectation and realization that a person with disabilities is actually capable of doing something a “normal” person could do, and because they can do this they are seen as special Unicorns of hope. Hi my name is Catherine and I get distracted easily and I have trouble reading, my ability to read and function despite these things does not make me inspiring. My ability to flourish in a ableist world does, however, make me pretty damn inspiring.
*Apparently I’m really good at not posting weekly blogs. So I am very sorry. But this weekend was crazy.
I don’t want to talk about what happened this weekend, because I’m afraid.. but it’s the only thing that is on my mind. I am a child born into terror and I am scared by the happenings in Europe right now. There was 2 other deadly attacks in Beirut and in Baghdad and they deserve are prayers as well. Also the refugees who are now being rejected because the same people who are destroying their homeland have destroyed their chances of creating a new home, they need our prayers. They are beaten down and I cannot imagine what they must be thinking
The world feels dark and cold most days, especially this weekend. And even as a write this there is an absurd amount of privilege in what I’m saying. I am white, middle class, and I live in America. I had the luxury of not only waking up this morning, but waking up in a bed, in a house, with food to make myself breakfast. I am blessed, and I cannot possibly imagine what people are going through.
At the end of the day we need to find a way to love each other, as hard as it may seem the only thing that can defeat evil is love.
In two days I celebrate my emancipation from the womb, more traditionally referred to as a birthday. I will be 20 years old and officially not a teenager, this is cool. As now I will garner more respect from everyone I meet at my new found identity as an adult and not a youth.
I am lucky enough to be spending my birthday in Scotland, more specifically the Isle of Skye. Life is crazy. Absolutely bonkers. A year ago I was across the ocean, and now I’m here. Please sit back close your eyes and thank whatever thing you believe in. Thank that great something for bringing you to this moment, thank the great something for keeping you safe and keeping you so well cared for during your life. My great something is God, maybe your great something is the universe but still sit back and enjoy all the good things around you.
Right now it is easy to be thankful for all the good things in my life because a lot of things are good. I am really blessed. I’m in another country and I know whatever happens I can be on a plane tomorrow to go home. Not everyone has that luxury of an easy escape and not everyone has the luxury of not needing an escape, but I have both.
God bless this moment and this my 19th year for being so difficult and such a struggle. God bless my survival and God bless the potential for growth.
I’ve finally been adopted. I never expected to find my UK mom in a supermarket while my friend and I mourned the lack of Candy Corn in England but that is where she found us. Coraleen is an Arizonian woman who has been living in the UK for the past 17 years. Her and her family are joyful and full of life. Within seconds of meeting us she gave us her phone number (both cell and home phone), her address, and also told us which buses we would need to take to get to her house.
Today we went to her house to play American football and eat hot dogs and I can’t really explain what it means to me that this woman took us in after talking to us for barely 20 minutes. She also gave us her work schedule “just in case”. It’s been so long since I’ve felt a home environment and it is amazing that Coraleen so quickly opened her home to us. She’s great. Also they had a dog which they let me pet.
London is beautiful, have I mentioned that? It has green hills and beautifully open city-scapes. The people are always open to help you if you’re lost. It’s beautiful, even when it is raining and the wind is blowing and it’s horridly cold. When I walk downtown, and by the river Thames I am joined by millions of people who have done the same. When I sit overlooking the London bridge and people watch, I become part of something so much larger than myself. I am placing myself in the narrative of that place and in the narrative of the people around me. I, by simply existing, am having an affect on my surroundings. In the grand scheme of London I am probably not even the dot of an ‘i’, I still exist in London’s narrative, however small of an affect I have on the world around me. But in my narrative, London is a chapter; we affect and are affected by the world around us in differing amounts.
You are the protagonist in your story, but are you the antagonist in someone else’s story? Are you someones Dolores Umbridge? Or Professor Snape? Maybe you are, and maybe you don’t have to be. As my favorite movie, Iron Giant, puts it “You are who you choose to be.” You have the power to change the way you affect people, so why not be a positive influence on those you love?
On Tuesday I decided to walk to class, and I got lost. I was walking the way I normally get to campus when I spotted this beautiful stone pathway that lead almost where I was going, instead of exploring that pathway at a more prudent time I decided that now was the time for exploration. I came out the other side of the pathway in a neighborhood I had never seen before and instead of going back I decided I would just wander through the neighborhood. It was a beautiful morning walk, if not a bit of a hurried one towards the end when I no longer had any margin left for making it to class on time. I walked through neighborhoods that were undeniably English, with their red bricks and short houses. The gardens were small and unkempt with flowers still in bloom. I continued on with my walk enjoying the scenery and trying to get my bearings, but I couldn’t. Even after I wandered out of the neighborhood I still had no idea where I was going. I decided to go up and ask someone for directions, the first woman I walked up to smelled strongly of whiskey at 8am so I just walked past her. The second woman I walked up to ten minutes later knew exactly how to get to campus; it was a straight walk in the direction I had already been heading.
I’m the kind of person who likes to know where I’m heading at all times. Letting go is very difficult for me to do, and I was shocked at how calm I was throughout my morning walk on Monday. I worried a lot about study abroad, not necessarily because I was afraid of doing it, but because I was afraid that I wasn’t going to the right place, or that I wasn’t going at the right time. In a lot of ways I definitely didn’t come to study abroad at the right time; I don’t have enough money to travel, and I arrived completely disoriented to what I was supposed to be doing. I was extremely lost and disorganized. Part of me regrets coming when I did, but at the end of the day I am where I need to be, going in the same direction I’ve always been going. When I get anxious or overwhelmed about thinking I’ve done the wrong thing I try to remind myself of all the beautiful things that have happened since I came to the UK. Every single beautiful and funny moment that has happened wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t come this semester. The people I met may not have been my friends, the classes I’m in may have had a completely different professor things would be different, and well I may have been able to travel to Paris, Amsterdam, and Barcelona if I had waited a year I wouldn’t have these beautiful memories. While things aren’t perfect, they are beautiful. I’m glad I’m in the UK, I’m glad I came when I did, I’m glad I came where I did. However anxious and panicked things may feel I am heading in the right direction and I just need to keep walking.
It was 11pm on Thursday night when my friends and I met Sam. He’s in his late twenties and lives outside the train station near my dorm. I was walking down the stairs when Sam asked me for some spare change, I had none. But his eyes were so desperate that it was hard to leave him there without anything. So I gave him my left over stir fry which was hardly even two mouthfuls. So my friends bought him ice cream, crisps, and a beer. When we offered him the beer he politely told us no, Sam is a recovering alcoholic. Despite giving him all that it did not feel like I was giving him enough so I bought him a burger, but even that wasn’t enough. But what could be considered enough for Sam? Who was fighting an addiction while trying to get back on to his feet. Enough would be a house, enough would be some sense of stability, not just one meal. Enough would be taking him to treatment and getting him help. Enough would be sitting and talking with him for hours, treating him like a person. The word enough rang in my ears the entire walk back to my dorm.
I want to be able to help people like Sam, but want is not enough. I need resources and training. But there’s the rub, desire and want do not create action without determination, and even then failure is imminent. I think in this way I am a lot like other people. I believe most everyone desires the good for mankind, but either they are sorely misguided in their attempts or they are unable/unwilling to act upon their ideas. And that is where I am stuck, not entirely unwilling but significantly unable. The pessimist inside of me tells me that even if I could possibly help people like Sam I wouldn’t be able to fix the problem of poverty and homelessness everywhere. The problem is too overwhelming. I see Sam on my way to watch a play, I see Sam as I walk to class, I see Sam in the market near my school. I even talk to Sam sometimes, I lie and tell them that I do not have money. Every time I meet someone like Sam, or someone in his situation my stomach drops. I know I am about to do the wrong thing but I do it anyways. I can’t just keep claiming that I value individuals struggling with homelessness and in the same day ignore them on the street. But I do.
Like I said earlier, this problem is too big to be fixed by some 19 year old with a blog. But I think at the root of this problem, and possibly many others, is the lack of recognition of humanity in the other. When we deny or ignore the humanity in the other, our conscience doesn’t even need to react, because we see nothing there. It is integral for us as humans to remember that everyone; homeless, gay, transgender, Christian, Muslim, Black, White, and any other multitudes of being that could be mentioned, are indeed a human being. And human beings deserve love and respect.
I made it to London sleep deprived and confused. I laughed as I landed because it seemed simply insane that one day I was in the US, and the next across the ocean. I’m pretty sure my elderly seatmates thought I was insane.
I really love Kingston, it contains a multitude of countries, languages, belief systems, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. Since coming here I have met people from all over the US and UK, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Austria, Germany, Romania, Jordan, Tajikistan, Luxembourg, Kenya, Greece, India, Uzbekistan, India, Brazil, Norway, China, and Turkey. It is so beautiful that while living in another country I am being exposed to so many cultures.
I made friends. It was great, Ali and Jordan (two girls from North Dakota) showed me how to use the internet and then we went out to get food. I guess the funny thing with this is I was so afraid I wouldn’t make any friends while I was abroad and nearly convinced myself that they didn’t like me. I woke up the next morning with their texts asking me to come hang out with them and go eat. It was lovely.
I’ve been to London twice already. I got to see John Keats memorial while in Westminster today. I got very emotional. I really love Keats poetry. It reminds you of the preciousness of life, the beauty of love, and the realities of death. His poetry possesses my heart and tears it apart in every way imaginable. Every single word hits me in a new way each and every time I read it. The subtleties of his wording and the desperation he felt knowing he was going to die before truly reaching his peak. If your still on the fence go read “Bright Star” by him. The tenderness of the poem will entrance you and ultimately the agony of the poem will hook you to his heartbreaking story.