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!