Thoughts & Rants

The Graduate (Yep, that’s me)

I am now a graduate of Swansea University. My three years is up and now all I have is a degree to show for it. Well, I guess I should say, now I have a bachelors in media communication and I am ready for adulthood, so bring it on world! Right? Yeah, not quite. Even though I don’t know what to do next, I undoubtedly know that going to Swansea was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Although I didn’t write much in my second or third year, I can say that each year was filled with things I could have written about. (But who has that kind of time, right?) Adventures, friendships, travel, learning lessons. University is a time for drama, good and bad.

Even though my experience was different from most people I know, I still experienced the same feeling of being away from home, with an entirely different group of people, and the newfound independence and sometimes hardships that come with it. I learned a lot about myself as an individual, but also an American. For example, when I started this blog I wrote a lot about cultural differences and some of the things that were said to me because I was American, and me being offended by them. However, now after three years of getting socialized in the UK, I understand that it was just simply banter. American and British humour is very different. I learned how to take things with a grain of salt, or rather, not to take things so literally.

I also learned how to be, or sometimes just act, confident. If you knew me anywhere from five to (honestly) seventeen years old, you would probably describe me as shy. Which I have over the years come to realise that being shy is not inherently a bad thing. However, a lot of my shyness has gone away. Fine, I still don’t like talking on the phone to strangers or answering the door when the doorbell rings, but I’m not afraid to stand up and ask questions. When it comes to traveling, confident is one of the most important things to be. Confidence (and probably a naive belief that everything is going to be okay) came in handy at three in the morning in Prague, stranded at a bus stop because the buses stopped running, and having no idea where the fuck I was. But I figured it out. When moving to a new city, confidence is key in getting yourself out there and making friends. My high school teacher once told my class, fake it until you make it. If you fake confidence enough, one day you might actually believe that you are.

I also realised that living abroad for three years and traveling home for a few weeks twice a year taught me how to be adaptive to my surroundings. I already am a relatively adaptive person, however picking up every few months and moving between two countries with very different lifestyles really showed me what being adaptive is. Not only the humour and accent is different, but the entire lifestyle is. Driving everywhere versus walking, seeing family all the time to not at all, being underage to being able to buy myself a beer. It all sounds like minor and obvious things, but it can be pretty exhausting changing between the two. Although I do realise that I was extremely lucky to go home as often as I did, and in occasion it was very nice to be 4000 miles away from whatever I wanted to be away from.

Lastly, when you live abroad, you sometimes have to rely on people. Whether that be because of a language barrier, meeting new people through your friends, or having them drive you literally everywhere (thank you, pals) it’s sort of a struggle to be totally independent. I’d like to take some time to say thanks to every single person that has helped explain what something means, drive me somewhere, show me around Swansea, or invite me out with your friends, you truly helped my clueless little ass get by. Cheers! I also need to thank my friends and family. Without my parents support, emotionally and financially, I would not be here writing about this. So thank you mom and dad for letting me do what most parents would be terrified by. Lastly, thanks to my friends from home for supporting me, checking in on me, and being excited for me. Although I’ve been gone for three years, I feel that my friendships with you all have only grown stronger.

This concludes the end of my preaching, but being a normally retrospective person, it’s hard for me not to, especially when the times are changing my dudes.

And to answer probably everyone’s question, I don’t know what I am going to do next and I don’t know where I want to live either. But I do know that I am ready to be home for a while (although ask me again in January and you will probably get a different answer).

If you have any questions about my time abroad, or you want to hire me, please don’t be afraid to send me a message, I have some time to kill and a loan to pay off.

On a final note, before I moved to Swansea, everyone told me how hard it would be to leave home, but no one told me how hard it would be to leave Swansea and say goodbye to all of the friends I have made. Regardless, it was worth it. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, do it. Don’t let fear make your decisions.

This is the last post of Might as Wale, the end of an era. I do hope to continue writing, but in a new blog. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Thanks to everyone who read the whole thing and kept up with this blog, for those of you who didn’t, how rude!




Thoughts & Rants

Maybe She’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Coconut Oil.

I’d like to introduce to you the many joys of coconut oil.

First and foremost, what you need is extra-virgin, extra-unrefined, extra-organic coconut oil. You want that shit extra fresh and untouched.

Perfect Coconut Oil Hairmask:

  1. Open your jar of coconut oil
  2. Take a good ol’ whiff of your new bestie in a bottle
  3. Reach to the heavens and yell “DAAAAAAMNNNNN” because it’s just so fresh
  4. Take a huge slab of coconut oil and spread it all over your hair
  5. All over. Keep spreading. Work it girl. You’re flawless.
  6. Okay okay now STOP
  7. Sleep on it, do your thing, whatever, just wash it out with shampoo tomorrow morning or in a few hours. Your hair will thank you.

Perfect Coconut Oil for Face and Neck and All Over:

  1. Repeat steps 1-3 from the Perfect Coconut Oil Hairmask™
  2. Grab some of that fresh to death oil and put it on your face and neck and the rest of your body if you feel being hugged by a warm blanket of that dreamy coconut oil.
  3. Massage it in and let your skin soak up that good Vitamin K and E
  4. Make sure you don’t get it in your eyes because who knows what would happen then
  5. Go out into the world and show off your new soft AF and good lookin’ skin
  6. Also take a good look at your nails because honey, they look better

Other uses of coconut oil:

Cooking: Use as an oil for cooking. Show up your snobby neighbour Susie with a better french toast at this Sunday’s Upper-Middle-Class-American-Dream-almost-like-Desperate-Housewives-but-not-quite-Brunch. Coconut oil can withstand high heat and not burn like its friend Olive Oil does. (Sorry olive oil, but I had to say it. You know it’s for the best.)

Oil Pulling: You’re thinking, WTF is that? Well ladies and gents, it’s monumental. Just swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for a long and uncomfortable 20 minutes and it draws out toxins and improves your oral and overall health. (We think.)

In Your Coffee: I’ve never tried this, but some people have. What do you have to lose? Be brave, be adventurous, try something new home-girl!

Ingest It: A-tablespoon-a-day helps with mental health and allergy symptoms apparently. Those saturated fats are a true friend to your brain.

Everything Else in Life: Literally everything. You want that job promotion? Use coconut oil. You want to get married while your 30 flirty and thriving? Use coconut oil. Coconut Oil solves problems. Coconut Oil is the answer to your prayers. Coconut Oil is here for you.

When in doubt, coconut oil it out.

Thoughts & Rants

America: Land of the Fat, Home of the Racists?

Recently I posted on Yik Yak, an app in which you anonymously post something similar to a tweet, and people can up-vote it if they like it or down-vote it to vote it off. It is all based on location and you can set your “home base” to one location and yak on it no matter where you are in the world. Yik Yak is mostly funny and relatable, but sometimes people cross the line.

My Yik Yak home base is Swansea and recently I posted “My American parents cannot understand the concept of Wind St. I should never have tried to explain.” Now, Wind St. is basically a street full of clubs in bars that livens up at night and is crowded with drunk students and young adults, partying the night away.  Sorry to post about you on social media, mom and dad, but I only did it because I can’t explain Wind St. without it sounding like a really stupid and somewhat dangerous street, in which it’s (mostly) not. I didn’t really do it justice and so I thought it would be humorous to post about.

And so I did, and this is what happened:


Here’s my problem with it. It’s all fun and games until you actually offend someone. I get this shit all of the time and I’ve realised that this is probably the first idea that people have of me: fat, racist, and gun obsessed. Sure, America has fat, racist, and gun obsessed people, but when does a stereotype become an actual belief? You cannot generalise an entire nation based on one or a few stereotypes. This is an extension of my “You Guys Bomb Everything” post that I wrote a few weeks ago. It’s more negative comments from strangers just from the mention of America. It’s not necessarily anyones fault, it’s just what people are taught to believe from the news and the media. The thing is, America has the same problem. This correlates with more deeper issues such as assuming every Muslim is a terrorist, every black person is a thug, or that Mexico is dangerous and full of drug dealers, when in truth, it’s not like that. Before I went to Europe, I was told that it’s dirty and full of pedophiles. I could also simply say that all southerners are racist, or even that all Californians are vegan. It’s just not true nor is it fair. I could have thrown back some stereotypes about the UK, like that all they eat are chips and they’re all atheists, but that would just be throwing fire on fire. I’d be doing exactly what they did. So instead I sarcastically responded back. I wasn’t about to start a serious debate over Yik Yak.

I know America has done some shitty things, especially in recent events. Regarding the police brutality comment, it’s important that we talk about it, but I don’t know if that was the most appropriate way to bring it up. We aren’t the best nation. America is problematic. We can be ignorant, some of us are indeed bad at geography, and we can be self-centred. We can work on these issues in America, but they can’t be treated lightly. It’s important to be educated, but maybe we shouldn’t get all of our information from one source or stereotype that could easily be biased. This is another reason why traveling is important. Go out and gain your own perspective and beliefs before you assume anything.

I’m taking all of this personally and maybe I shouldn’t. Whether they meant it jokingly or not, I don’t find it very funny, rather just frustrating. In a way I feel more of an outsider; more like I keep having to explain myself and explain my country with everyone I meet. On a positive note, this gives me an opportunity to gain perspective and write a blog post like this, but it’s overwhelming. Pride and prejudice is an endless struggle in both the UK and the US (do I sense a second novel coming on?).

Letters, Thoughts & Rants

End of First Year

First year is coming to a close. People are packing up their rooms, saying goodbye, and leaving Swansea for the summer. I myself am leaving with an addiction to Starbucks, a newfound appreciation for folk music, and a feeling of nostalgia for the past year.

This has been the fastest yet most life changing year I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine my life before university and I can’t believe I have been away from home for so long. I’ve only been in the United States for a total of three weeks since September 2014. I have changed immensely while being here. I even look different. The Andie in September seems years younger than me right now, but I am still the same age as her, and last time I was home, I was her. (Preach time: age is really just a number. It’s all about experiences.) Before you leave, you wonder how much it will change you. There isn’t really an answer to that besides that it just does. Experiencing this year at uni has made me grow so much, and that combined with traveling has made me gain so much confidence in myself. It’s weird because I honestly can’t believe how brave I was deciding to live abroad. Obviously, I couldn’t fully grasp what I was getting myself into, but I’m glad for that. Right before I left, I was sad and a little scared to leave home. I knew I’d never be this young again and that life wasn’t so serious yet. However, looking at myself now, I am so much happier. I would have never gone out of my shell and tried new things if I didn’t leave home. I needed it. The thought of home now has evolved into something much more meaningful, even though I didn’t think it could ever expand any more.

Despite worries of homesickness, I didn’t get homesick at all this year until about April, which is an impressive amount of time without getting homesick if you ask me. I can understand why homesickness is so overwhelming now. It’s a hard thing to want to go back home when you’re so far away. It’s easy to start to dislike differences in culture and whatnot, but it’s a very bad habit to get into. I did find ways to help it a bit though. I took walks, listened to music, Skyped friends and family, watched Welsh slang YouTube videos, and I watched House Hunters International. Oddly enough, House Hunters International really helped. Most importantly though, I became friends with Leah from Canada. Having a fellow North American with whom you can share your struggles with and also share the excitement of being in another country with is really what helped me the most. Homesickness is an isolating feeling and people can never really understand it unless they leave home and experience it themselves, but it is something that you can get through. Overall though, it was a lot less of a problem than I thought it would be.

To answer everyones question: my favourite part was probably meeting all of the different people from different places with different accents. It’s cool to learn about people and culture and where everyone is from! And by the way, asking what someone’s favourite part was is a very broad question and it’s difficult to answer because you can’t just choose one favourite part out of a big life changing experience. 🙂

At this point it will be hard to revert back to US spelling and slang, but I am going to try to keep my UK side as well. Personally, I think it’s better. Heehee.

Seeing how much I’ve changed in just one year, I can’t imagine what I’ll be like at the end. It’s a bit overwhelming at times, but knowing how many friends I’ve made, how many places I’ve been, and how much I’ve grown as a person, I would never change my decision to come here. Plus now I only have two years left of university 😉

Knowing that in a few days I get to wake up in my own home and see my friends, my family, and my cat has brought many tears to my eyes.

I love you Wales, but I am ready for you, Minnesota! Bring on the humidity, stormy nights, and even the mosquitos!

Me in September

Me in September

Me in June!

Me in June!

Song of the day:

Thoughts & Rants

“You Guys Bomb Everything”

Twice now I have had incidents where someone made a joke about America bombing everything. Both times happen to be when I was playing pool with an almost complete stranger.

The first time with someone who I had known for a few hours. I was playing pool and I missed a shot and moaned about it, and he says to me “calm down miss nuke”. I slightly glare at him and he says “don’t go bombing anything, okay?” while my other friend whispers in my ear “Japan!”.

The second time was again with someone who I had only known for about an hour. I meet some guys at another table and they realise I’m American and compliment my teeth (it happens a lot. Americans actually do have better teeth) and I brag about how I never had braces (as you do). They ask me about America and the girl I’m playing pool with randomly says to me “you guys bomb everything.” As I realise this is the second time this has happened to me in less than a month, I reply, very annoyed, “well you guys invade everything.”

I realise that the comments are sarcastic and joking, however the first one genuinely made it sound like I had something to do with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the second one was just like, really? You’re going to mention this right now? People either believe in the American dream and assume that everyone lives a perfect life, and other people criticise every aspect of the United States and believe everybody has a gun and we all shoot each other constantly. Both of these are equally frustrating. Part of me thinks that they’re still hurt that we left and created the Declaration of Independence.

I just needed a good rant about this. Thanks for staying with me to the end.

Thoughts & Rants

How to Spot an American (in just 4 easy steps!)

Here are some helpful hints and tricks to make it easier for you to spot an American in your everyday life. The best part is, all you need to do is look at what they’re wearing. Let’s get started!

As Drake did, we will start from the bottom. Look at their shoes! Are they wearing…

A. Toms or Sperrys…friggin sperrys…

B. Really intense running shoes, probably bright pink or blue

C. Those tall pleather boots, brown or black.

Next, we will move on to their trousers (not pants lol I’m British now). Are they wearing…

A. American Eagle jeans. Just took at the butt pocket. It says it all.

B. Leggings or baggy sweatpants

C. Actual jeans. Like an actual pair of jeans. Probably medium wash.

It’s probably raining outside! Look at their jacket. Are they wearing…

A. An American college sweatshirt. Probably an east or west coast college. People in the midwest don’t seem to leave.

B. A Patagonia, Columbia, or North Face heavy duty rain jacket that someone would typically wear camping.

C. No jacket at all. They’re trying to beat the weather. They’ll soon find that they can’t.

One last step! Are they wearing…

A. One of those big ass backpacks that college students typically use. Probably again from a company that also makes camping gear. The backpack is most likely holding a water bottle and a carabiner.

B. All of the above

C. A and B

Now we’re here! If you’ve answered A, B, or C to any of the above questions, then they are definitely American. Good luck with that!

-I have gained all of this knowledge just by standing in the Starbucks line on campus. Day in and day out. I think when people think of Wales they immediately think camping and go straight to REI.

Differences, Thoughts & Rants

The Struggles: A Collection of American Complaints and First World Problems

The other day I thought to myself “Aw, Menards. What a nice place.” Then I continued to reminisce about the aisles upon aisles of light fixtures, tools, carpets, windows, doors, old people. The hunting gear section and the large selection of knock-off candy and jolly ranchers. The harsh fluorescent lighting and the ever-present smell of wood and dirt. And then I took a step back. The daydream ended and I just realised that I got nostalgic for Menards. What even is that? You know you’re at a weird point in your life abroad when you start to miss Menards or even the hell on earth that is Joann Fabrics.

A few nights ago my friends and I walked to McDonalds. It was 8:30pm and raining, but we were hungry and hadn’t really left our rooms in about four days. On the forty minute walk to McDonalds I had to decide between choosing a burger or chicken nuggets. Once we arrived and after much thought, we walked up to the register and I ordered chicken nuggets. She asked what sauce I wanted and I said ‘honey’, completely and totally ready to dip back into my childhood when I used to eat chicken nuggets and honey all the time, the perfect savoury and sweet combination, and not have to worry about it going to my thighs. Tonight was the night to not worry about it going to my thighs. I had just walked two miles and I was going to walk another two miles back. That dream however was crushed. ‘Honey? What? We don’t do that here…’ my friend intervened. The thought of chicken nuggets with honey repelled everyone around me and yet again I was alone, honey-less, with only the taste of the heavenly meal in my memories. I ended up getting barbecue sauce. I love you barbecue sauce, but you’ll never be the honey to my chicken nuggets. Europe doesn’t know what they’re missing.

Also, McDonalds is trying this thing where they are doing a ‘great tastes around America’ and this week it was the Miami Burger which is described as ‘ beef patty with Sunblush tomato sauce, bacon, two slices of cheese, shredded lettuce, onions and cool mayo, in an oval sesame seed bun.’ How is that in any way Miami? I have yet to find out. Next week is the Texas BBQ burger. Now thats just stereotypical.

Seriously, just watch this video. They hate us. Or they love us. I can’t tell.

After I ordered my chicken nuggets, the woman at the till asked what kind of mcflurry I wanted. The options were smarties, galaxy, dairy milk, and crunchie. This is when I realised that smarties are something totally different here. Smarties here are small chocolate circle things. I haven’t tried them but they look like m&ms so lets just say that they’re basically m&ms.


Smarties in the United States are different. Have you ever tried to describe what smarties are to someone who has no idea? It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to describe.

‘It’s small circle candy and it comes in different colours.’

‘Oh, so like m&ms?’

‘No its not chocolate. It’s powdery.’

‘So it’s just powder then?’

‘No it’s like powder but in circles that melts in your mouth…It comes in a small roll in plastic.. It doesn’t really taste like anything. It just tastes like…smarties.’

For all of you European readers, here is what I’m talking about. They aren’t even good, but somehow I still get excited when I get them. You don’t buy smarties, you get smarties. Either from your teacher, at a parade, or on halloween. Or if you buy one of the big packs that comes with dum dums, nerds, and laffy taffys. That’s it.


On another sweet note, when I visited my dad he gave me a care package that my mom put together (thanks guys!) that came with hershey’s kisses. They don’t have those here, unless you go to an American candy store and buy it 50% above market price. But you’d think out of all of the candy and chocolate in America, hershey’s kisses would have made it across the pond by now. I mean if a crunch bar made it, why wouldn’t this? Somehow though, it’s not a thing here. But that gave me an exciting opportunity to force it down my friends throats! Just kidding, it wasn’t like that. Ha ha ha. Their reactions were priceless. Upon first inspection one of my friends goes ‘so I can eat this?’ and another one simply just stares at it in their hands, peering at it from every angle. A few other friends were amazed at the way you open it. “That’s some engineering, that is!” exclaiming about the little strip of paper that you open it with. I’m bad at describing things. Here’s a picture.


They all enjoyed it though. Most of them said it tasted like Christmas chocolate. But does that imply cheap chocolate? Huh.

One more thought on chocolate, I just found out that galaxy chocolate and dove chocolate are the same thing. I just thought the states didn’t have galaxy, and the UK didn’t have dove, but now that I know that they’re the same thing, this changes everything! Dove chocolate became in a thing in the US in 1956, and was introduced to the land of brits in 1960 under the name ‘galaxy’. Not sure why they need a different name, but whatever. You’d think they’d be the ones with the Declaration of Independence because of the number of things that they changed the name of when they came across the pond. TJ Maxx/TK Maxx, Lays/Walkers, Hokey Pokey/Hokey Cokey, Axe/Lynx, even their Doritos flavours (nacho cheese/chili heatwave, cool ranch/cool original, they even have a tangy cheese flavour which I’m not sure if we have an equivalent to.). The struggle continues because our Three Musketeers is their Milky Way and our Milky Way is their Mars Bar. I could go on. For the longest time, I thought dove chocolate was from the same company that makes dove soap. I figured the soap company wanted to tailor to women’s needs even more and make a chocolate company, but I guess I was wrong the whole time. You really learn something new everyday.


So this is a true American teenage problem. The United Kingdom does not seem to be a fan of Mexican food. They have a few Chipotles in London, and like two Taco Bells somewhere, but otherwise it is non-existent. I was lucky to have Chipotle (chip-ote-lay not chip-ot-el 😀 ) in London but sadly it was watery and I really don’t think a burrito bowl should be watery. I also had to explain to someone what a burrito was and how that was different from a taco. Then again, they know much more about Indian food than I do. At least Tesco sells Old El Paso stuff but like my friend Ceci from El Paso says, it’s not even Mexican food. She also says Chipotle isn’t Mexican food. But I don’t care, it’s still delicious.

Lately I genuinely consider myself to be 20 years old. I feel 20. I’m surrounded by mostly 20 year olds, some 19 and some 21, but either way they’re still all older than me. It’s strange that I’m only 18 right now, but I guess I should cherish it while I can. On the Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Mr. Moseby once said “how do you lose a women?” and the great Cody Martin replied “you forget to cherish her.” So I guess I’ll take Cody’s advice and cherish myself before I lose my young age. Ja feel?

To end this post on a light-hearted note something nice happened. It was Leah’s first time ever sending a letter in the mail (she’s 21. crazy, I know) and I was showing her how to do it. We just bought stamps and walked over to the post box and I said to her “before you put the letters in, you need to kiss them, otherwise they won’t get there” and without even blinking or saying anything, the guy next to us kissed his letter and put it in the post box. He knew I was kidding but he went along with it. It was amazing.

That’s all the ranting I have for now. Thanks for putting up with me ya’ll. (I’ve started saying y’all now. I didn’t think coming to the United Kingdom would do that to me. But it happened).