Saturday, February 21, 2015

Happy Little Things

Happiness has been coming in the form of emails and delivered packages lately!

The first very happy thing that I discovered in my email inbox was my test score from one of my philosophy classes in Leiden.  I was really nervous about receiving this grade because earlier, I had received a failing grade in my other philosophy class (although I have a chance to retake the test).  I received a 6 on this exam and as my professor told me when I asked, a 6 is "indeed a pass grade for the course."  Yes!!  I am one class away from finishing my philosophy minor.  If for some reason I don't pass in June when I retake the first philosophy test, I will take a different philosophy course via a community college.  Then I will be finished and can focus 100% on my teaching and English courses.  I love philosophy and I've enjoyed studying it even though it's a difficult subject to grasp, but it's a relief to be so close to being done.

A few days ago, I was at school waiting to go to a meeting, so I decided to check email (like I do four hundred times a day, it seems).  One of the first emails I saw was from a program called Breakthrough.  This is a program that hires high school and college students to teach summer school to kids who need the extra help or who just need something to do during the summer.  Being a teacher candidate, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity, so I filled out the application, got a letter of recommendation, and sent it off.  Well, a few days ago, I got an email asking me to come to a group interview session in early March.  I don't have the job yet, but this email tells me that I'm still in the running for this really cool opportunity!  That email was enough to make my day right then and there.  But there was more.

That same day, the next email I saw was from David's Bridal saying that my dress had arrived and that I needed to come in and inspect/pick it up in the next week.  Not long after I returned to the U.S., I started poking around sites looking for wedding dress ideas, although not expecting to find anything.  Low and behold, I found a dress that I absolutely loved and that was in my price range.  I don't mean to brag, but I'm happy about this too... it was only $99.  That's a lot of money to spend on a dress of all things, but compared to the other dresses that I was seeing that were worth hundreds more if not thousands more, this was a pretty sweet deal that I just couldn't pass up.  My mom and I went to the wedding dress store and I put my money down that night (I couldn't take it home with me because this particular dress happened to be quite popular and sold out within a handful of days of first hitting the racks, so I ordered and waited).  And now it's here!  I can't wait to go get it, but I have to wait for a couple of people who want to come with me, because they were mad that I only went with my mom when I initially found it.  So I don't want to disappoint them again.

I hope that as the Big Day draws nearer I'll be able to talk about wedding plans more here, but until then, I started a board on Pinterest, so feel free to peruse that...

Follow Megan Bernard's board Wedding Plans on Pinterest.

The next exciting thing happened later that night.  I was just about to go to bed when I decided to check my email one more time... I had gotten a message from the Art and Literary journal my school publishes.  A couple weeks before, I had submitted six pictures from my stock of European pictures and I had just been informed that one of my pictures was going to be published in the journal!  I don't have any other details about this right now, but I'm still very excited!  I will post a picture when the book comes out.  I might even send a copy to my photography teacher in the Netherlands, since I believe the picture that was accepted was an assignment for his class.

The final thing that made me happy came in the mail on Wednesday.  My pictures from the Netherlands arrived.  It arrived in a 6.6 pound bright orange box and was filled with about 750 pictures of just my time in the Netherlands (so I haven't ordered pictures from England, Morocco, Italy, or any of those other places).  This means that after I finish scrapbooking the trip to California that I took over the summer before leaving for Europe, I can start working on my Fall 2014 scrapbook.  I think this will be very therapeutic for me.  I miss being abroad so much.

Thanks for letting me share the good news that has been coming my way!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Over One Month Since Coming Home

It's weird to think that about a month and a half ago, I was still in the Netherlands, although getting ready to board a plane that would take me home to the U.S.  As I said before, I was beyond not ready to go home.  But I had no choice.

Now I'm home.  I returned to school, caught up with a lot of my friends (although not all of them yet), went back to work at O'Shaughessy Theater on my college campus, and just generally tried to keep busy.  That really worked for me.  Study abroad students who have recently returned from their host country or will in the next handful of months after their semester ends, I highly recommend this strategy, especially after making such an important connection to another culture.

Now that I've had a little distance from my semester abroad, I feel more comfortable going back to it-- looking at pictures, telling stories, etc.  My university runs an art and literary journal, so I decided to submit six photos from my European adventures.  Wish me luck on that front, I'd love to be published, even for photography (someday I'll get my act together and submit writing).  The Global Studies office at my school is also hosting a photography contest with the categories Cultural Connections and Katies Abroad.  I'm going to send in these photos later today.  Again, wish me luck!

What's weird is that when I look back at all of the pictures I took over Fall 2014, I get this feeling of disbelief that that's me in those pictures and that I saw those things that I photographed.  Those memories are mine, I know, but they feel so out of reach to me.  They happened so long ago, you know?

I've noticed a lot more Dutch things around me.  The gas station a few blocks from my house?  It's a Dutch company (Shell).  I see Old Dutch chips everywhere, once while I was at work I saw a lady waiting in line to get inside the theater and she was reading "The Goldfinch" based on the Dutch painting.  The teacher I volunteer for saw that I brought Stroopwaffels to put on my tea cup and she knew exactly what they were.  People pop up out of no where and they either know someone who is Dutch or have visited the Netherlands or passed through Schipol airport.  It's a small world and the Dutch seem to be everywhere.  In a way, it's comforting because it's like the country that I've grown to love so much isn't all that far away (or at least things reminiscent of that country aren't that far away).  

I'm doing okay right now, but I don't think that I'm engaging with Minnesota the way I used to before leaving.  I'd like to change that, since this state will be my home for the foreseeable future (not that it wasn't my home before, but my point is that my home feels different in a way I can't explain).  I need to start exploring parts of my state that I haven't already explored.

Traveling around Europe has sparked my interest in traveling once again.  I know that someday I'll return to Europe, but I'm ready to explore other continents now.  I think that South America is next.  Honeymoon in Ecuador?  Sounds good to me.  Australia sometime after?  Absolutely!  I'd like to go to a different part of Africa too, although I haven't decided where I would go or when I would make that journey.

So that's where my brain is right now.

Tot Ziens or Hasta Luego!