Saturday, December 28, 2013

This time next week...

Three more days. On Wednesday night, the first day of the new year, I will be on a plane to London for an entire semester. Talk about new beginnings!

I have been having a great- and extremely hectic- winter break so far. I've spent a lot of time at home with my family and our Christmas celebrations were so lovely. My family always comes over for Christmas Eve and this year we returned to our tradition of sandwiches and pie for dinner and dessert. After we ate, we all opened our annual Christmas pajamas and took some pictures in front of the tree. It ended up snowing a little so my cousins and I went outside to run around in it and to see the tree all lit up. As cliche and it sounds, it was pretty magical to see snow on Christmas Eve.

Christmas was full of surprises, family, and love. I got a bunch of things I'll need for my trip, like power adapters and space bags. I also get some clothes, a pair of shoes, and almost everything else I had asked for. Of course Maggie got a bunch of Walking Dead merch and my cat was in heaven because of the wrapping paper and bows everywhere. My dad made my grandma a bookshelf from scratch and it came out quite beautifully. She was so surprised when he brought it out.

After my sister and I sat down on the couch with our cinnamon buns, my dad came into the room and handed us each an envelope. He said that they were his Christmas letters to us. I didn't think anything of it so when I saw Maggie open hers and quickly slide it back into the envelope, I was suspicious. I opened mine up and there was a ticket to the One Direction concert in New Jersey this summer inside! I literally couldn't believe that my dad had gotten us tickets because everyone knows how ridiculous it is to try and buy them. But somehow, he did it!

It took a few days for the shock to wear off from that surprise, and then before I knew it there was another creeping up on me. On Friday night I drove to my friend Stephanie's house for what I thought was a pizza dinner with her, Maggie, and my other friend Kym. Her mom let us in and Stephanie was right inside waiting for us. After we took off our coats, we walked into the living room and I turned around and saw all of my friends standing in the dining room. I was so shocked to see them all there and after we all greeted one another, Steph told me how she had planned it all with Maggie and Kym. I was surprised my sister didn't let it slip because she usually can't keep secrets. Somehow, they all managed to keep it a secret though and the party was the highlight of my week. I got to see almost all of the people I wanted to see before I leave. It just reminded me of how blessed I am to have such great friends and family. I'll miss them all so much while I'm gone!

Now that I'm so close to my departure I feel like it's finally starting to seem real. I still need to unpack from school and then pack my bags for England, but I've been getting more mentally prepared and excited the last few days. I can't wait to get there and meet everyone in my program.

For now I will procrastinate and watch Dexter on Netflix with my family until I am forced to start packing. I hope everyone reading this is enjoying the holidays!

The next time I write, I'll be in London. Unbelievable.

Until we meet again.

My house on Christmas Eve. It snowed!

I painted my nails for Christmas.

From left: Lisa, Maggie, me.

Playing around with my camera in the snow on Christmas Eve.

Some of my amazing Christmas presents. I'm so excited for August 5th!

My friends threw such a fun surprise party for me on Friday!

Friday, December 13, 2013

London Calling

It's been an awfully long time since I used this blog, but I thought that I'd start it back up again to keep track of my thoughts as I prepare to head to London, England for almost five months. I absolutely cannot believe that I am leaving on New Year's Day. That's less than three weeks away and I literally just got home from Vermont yesterday. Admittedly, I feel really overwhelmed. I have so much to get done before I leave and I just want to curl up with my cat and watch Netflix to ease the stress. I love Christmas but I feel like I can't truly enjoy myself until my bags are packed and all of my affairs are in order. I guess I'm just too uptight about planning things out, and I'm actually looking forward to the change of pace and unpredictability of my trip abroad.

This past semester flew by and despite all of the stress from writing for my school paper and balancing all of my classes, I had a really good few months. Over the summer I worked as a deck hand on a boat and that was an interesting experience to say the least. After spending all of that time slaving away in the heat I was so ready to return to Vermont and to all of my friends. This semester I lived in a townhouse with Liz, Abby, and Erika. It was really nice living with them and getting to know them so it was pretty sad leaving yesterday. We spent our last night in the house watching "Love Actually" and painting our nails. I love nights like those and I'll miss our heart-to-hearts.

Another huge part of my semester was The Defender. I was a photo editor and staff writer for the paper and it was a really great experience... even when I hated it. I guess I never really hated it, but it was really stressful and time consuming. I loved the staff and my professors though, and every time the paper came out it was awesome to know that we had all put it together with our own original content and designs. I'm probably most proud of the interview I did with Kelley Dixon, an Emmy-award-winning film editor on "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead." I tweeted at a bunch of the cast and crew asking about an interview with pretty much no expectations of a response from anyone. It was the week before the series finale was scheduled to air. Dixon responded to my tweet asking me to sell myself a little and tell her more about myself. I was so excited! We exchanged a few more tweets, I gave her my e-mail address, and she contacted AMC Publicity. The next week, after the finale, I tweeted at her again to check and see how things were going with the publicity department's approval and she said that she was ready at that very moment if I was available. I jumped out of my bed and grabbed my recorder while awaiting her call. Sure enough, my phone rang a few moments later. She was so nice, but at first she said she only had a few minutes to talk. I scrambled to narrow down my questions so that I got the best ones answered in the short amount of time I had. I ended up talking to her for fifty minutes! It was so awesome to hear about the editing process and Kelley's experiences with the cast and crew. She told me about the change of environment for her on "The Walking Dead," and explained the difficulties of editing a zombie scene. Besides the awesome experience I had interviewing Kelley Dixon, I also got to cover the dismissal of two custodians/union advocates from St. Michael's for the first issue. It made the cover and caused a bit of a stir on campus. I was so nervous to write it and hearing positive things from so many people when it came out made me feel confident and excited to take on the rest of the semester.

Okay, okay, so enough about academics. It's winter break now and I'm just so happy to be home with my family. My sister and I just baked and frosted some peppermint cookies and now we're watching "Portlandia" on Netflix. I'm pretty sure my dad's asleep. I should probably unpack some more tomorrow but we're expecting a huge snow storm so I'll probably just sleep in, help put up the tree, and watch even more Netflix all day. No wonder I'm stressed...

As the days pass and London gets closer and closer, I worry about fitting all of my clothes and belongings in one or two suitcases, learning as much as I can about England before I leave, spending enough time with my family and friends, how it's going to feel saying goodbye to everyone for five whole months, what it's going to be like when I get off of the plane, and how well I'll transition to life in another country. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have such a great opportunity so I'm trying my best not to worry, and to embrace the extraordinary realization that I will be having the time of my life in England in just a few short weeks.

Our make-shift Christmas tree courtesy of Erika in our townhouse.

I'll miss my housemates!

From left to right: Erika, Abby, Liz, and me on Thursday right before Liz and I left.

The cookies that Maggie and I made tonight.

I'll try to update this blog often, so if you're interested in my travels, check it out! :)