Settling into Studies

The past couple days have been very busy with getting ready for classes, filling out paperwork, getting a bus pass, signing up for student meals and other not very fun things. For quite a while, being in Ljubljana has felt somewhat dream-like, that any day I will wake up back in Kansas city. More recently, as I prepare for lectures, it’s becoming reality that I will be living here for five months. This will hopefully become a home away from home. Is it silly that I can already see myself coming back here after a couple years? Maybe with a friend or family member, showing them all my favorite things about Ljubljana. Ah, that sounds nice…but first I need to make it through this semester.

So I’ve had a few interesting experiences at stores here in Ljubljana. The first grocery store I visited was tiny. So incredibly tiny, and stocked full of foreign products with labels all written in Slovenian. Who knew grocery shopping would be such a challenge? Certainly not me. I had a little basket full of simple groceries and also a couple liters of coca-cola because my soda addiction spans the distance of the seas. When I get to the register, the cashier speaks only Slovenian so I try to keep the conversation restricted to hello and thank you until my card gets declined and she continuously says “ne, ne, ne…” with vigor. Thankfully, I brought euros with me and was able to pay and get the heck out of this nightmare. As I go to leave, I realize there are no plastic sacs to put my items into. Re-usable bags are in the hands of all the people behind me in line. Apparently, everyone is expected to have their own bag when they go to the grocery store, which is wonderful for the environment, but terrible for me in this very situation. Defeated, I walked back to my apartment with a package of bread hanging out of my pocket and a pair of 2 liters in my arms.

So, I mentioned a few blogs before a Japanese girl I met in line waiting for my dorm assignment who was super lovely and gave me chocolate when I was starving. Certain I’d never find her again as we are both studying at different faculties, I had forgotten about our meeting until she messaged me on Instagram! We met up and ate lunch together and talked about the city and classes and her dorm. It was really nice getting to talk with her again and perhaps we will meet again sometime in the future. I also met some people at the faculty of social sciences today who I’ll have classes with who were very cool. One of the girls I met at the social science classroom was in my city tour group today and we talked during any down time of the tour about our mutual love of learning and hatred of math. It’s incredible how many amiable foreign exchange students there are here in Ljubljana!

Wish me luck in my first full week of classes!

Finding Narnia… Or Maybe Some New Friends

DSC_2708EditMy newly found friend and her friends let me join along on their trip to Soča Valley where Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia was filmed. I was ecstatic to go along because I love Narnia and read all the books as a child. So after having some rough times in Slovenia thus far, this was the best thing to experience. On the drive to the valley, four girls, all from different countries enjoyed listening to music and singing along. It was fantastic and eye opening. The truth is, even though all of us are from different backgrounds and countries(Ireland, Germany/Slovenia, Belgium, and America),  we all love the same things and got along so incredibly well. The sad thing is, they are all leaving because they studied first semester and I am studying second semester. Oh well, it gives me hope that maybe I can find some more cool Erasmus students during the semester. So we get to the mountains near Soča Valley and the car is struggling to get through the snowy drive and we decide to go back down the mountain because the car won’t go any further. DSC_2793Edit.jpgWe stop at Kranjska Gora and it is unbelievably beautiful! So incredibly sunny, mountains, and crystal clear water. So excited to get photos, I started walking across the snow and ice, into streams(on accident), and over rocks. The water was freezing but it was so clear that I wanted to bend down and take a drink. The views were amazing and I will be sure to go back in the summer even though I know there will actually be people there and I’ll have to share the beauty. After exploring, we sat in a little coffee shop in the valley. It was so nice, and also great coffee.

We still had time in the day so we went to the city of Kranj and walked around the downtown area while getting a slew of fun facts from my new friend whose family lived in Kranj. Beautiful little city with lots of history and charm. At this point, I hadn’t eaten much in Slovenia yet and when we stopped at a little shop for lunch I had no clue what to order. IMG_0821I ended up ordering a pizza burek and it was delightful. Not sure what exactly was inside, but it was delicious and I want another one right now. I will not rest until I find another. Anyway, we went back to Ljubljana and had dinner together and with one girl’s parents. There I learned a couple of things. First, I can’t finish an entire plate of spaghetti to save my life. Second, when people do a cheers with drinks you are expected to look into the other’s eyes that you are clinking with and I failed because I’m awkward. My embarrassed American self will always look people in the eyes when my glass(of water) clinks another’s glass.

Also, I got a new place to live and it’s so much better. I am already remarkably happier. It is more expensive than I was expecting so that’s financially daunting, but students get to eat at the restaurants for only 4.20 Euros which is crazy cheap so hopefully it will all work itself out. I will be careful to not buy much except for some towels and socks because those are very necessary and I’m lacking. Classes are going to begin soon so I probably won’t have as much to write about, unless you want to read about my studies. Thanks for reading, see you soon!

Ups and Downs in Ljubljana

Today I woke up super early to find an atm for the 300 euro cash deposit I needed to make for my dormitory. Then, the lady who owned the AirBnb I was staying in, drove me to the dorm office. Arriving at the dorm office was a bit intimidating as there was a huge line of foreign exchange students waiting outside the office to receive their dorm assignments. I started a conversation with the girl in front of me which is outside my comfort zone, but that’s why I’m here, right? She was a cute Japanese girl with short dark hair and short bangs. We shared common concerns regarding moving into the dorms, I wish we could be dorm mates. She was so sweet and was trying her best to understand my english, she did understand that I hadn’t eaten anything so she gave me a dutch chocolate bar with hazelnuts in it. I wish I knew how to find her again.

My silent taxi driver dropped me off near my new dorms, I got out and struggled to lug my giant suitcase down a bumpy side street to my new home for the next six months. As I opened the door to the floor level, I was hit with an overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke. To the third floor I went to find my assigned room. I opened the door and was greeted again with smoke mixed with old food and trash. I looked into the 4 person shared bathroom and noticed the toilet seat was up. Then I further inspected the kitchen decorations consisting of heavy metal and zombie posters. It finally hit me that my other two roommates were DUDES! WhAt? Defeated, I opened the fridge and found nothing but bottles of liquor, no food, just booze.

Trying to forget about his predicament, I messaged this girl I found through Instagram who studied at the Uni last semester. She met me at my bus station and helped my buy my own bus card before showing me which bus to take downtown. She showed me around town, gave me advice, and provided some much needed conversation. She is from Belgium, but speaks english very well because in Europe almost everyone learns to speak english at a young age. fullsizeoutput_5fe9.jpegShowing me her favorite places in Ljubljana, she took me to a pizzeria called FoculuS and it was amazing! Fun fact, they did not cut the pizza for me which is abnormal in America. The cheese was so fresh and delicious. Mmmmm. The whole pizza costs only 4.20 euros($4.74 for my American readers) plus access to a salad/soup bar. So cheap right??? And that is almost every restaurant in the city, they all let students eat a meal for the same price. We then met up with two of her friends and they were all so nice. They took me to the center of Ljubljana and to an ice cream shop called Cacao. SzDDtKF%Q7+w4wKGyngw3w.jpgI got raspberry ice cream which was blissfully delicious. America is doing ice cream wrong, that’s for sure haha. The more I talked to these girls, the more I felt comfortable. They were sarcastic, loved Disney movies, enjoyed art, loved all the puppies, and also wanted to shop at H&M. So they were basically friends I’d have in America only they were all from different countries with fun accents(I’m sure I have a fun accent to them as well) and a background of different culture.

I’m back in the dorms and struggling with fighting my asthma and terrible, never recovering from cancer lungs to breathe in this smoke-filled dorm. My eyes are burning from the smoke, do you know that feeling? Maybe not, but it happens to me anytime I’m around smoke for too long. I am going to try and change dorms if possible, for my own health concerns. Today was stressful and frustrating but also fun and hopeful. We shall see what this adventure has in store for me in the next coming days. Thanks for reading y’all(yes, I have faked a Southern accent for someone here).

Sunday Stressing

I woke up super late today, turns out my body is not yet acclimated to the time zone. Today is Sunday which means that everything is closed in Ljubljana. Luckily, I took some time today to stress out about moving into the dorms tomorrow. I’ve met a couple of people who are familiar with the student dorms and they all said they are notorious for partying and chaos. I do not like partying, or chaos. Sitting alone, reading a book is my ideal night. Plus, I have to have 300 Euros in cash for the dorm so I have to get up super early and wander around until I find the atms. Nervousness is overwhelming when I think about all the potential terrible situations I could be placed into. Hopefully all will be well, I will update you later.

Culture shock is beginning to set in as the euphoria of being in a new city is wearing off. It is incredibly odd not being able to understand anyone around me. The culture here is very different than America and I don’t think I have fully grasped  how to behave or respond to the local people here. Also, I felt like I haven’t had an actual conversation with a person in a while.

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Window of my AirBnb

Luckily the lady who owns the AirBnb I am staying in asked me if I wanted some tea and an apple from the market so I had the opportunity to sit with her talk for about an hour. It was wonderful to listen to her point of view on issues such as healthcare and the environment. She had so many brilliant things to say about her city and the people living here. Apparently, Slovenia is one of the safest countries in the world! It was so nice to talk to somebody and she also offered to give me a ride to the dorm office tomorrow. So incredibly sweet. No regrets on deciding to stay with a local in their apartment instead of staying in a private room with no human interaction like I normally would have. Look at me benefitting from stepping out of my comfort zone!

While I was outside walking around and trying to stop my overwhelming anxiety, a small friend found me. A CAT! A black and white cat walked up to me and started weaving between my legs.BCDFAD88-E873-410E-975C-CEEB41E924FA As I crouched down to pet the cat, it jumped into my lap! So here I am sitting criss-crossed on a cobblestone street in Ljubljana with a cat on my lap and a huge smile on my face. I love cats. For goodness sakes, my nickname is Kat. It was like God sent me this cat to calm me down, make me feel at home, and tell me everything was going to be alright. I might be looking into it, but honestly that cat made my entire day better.

Wish me luck tomorrow! Thanks for reading.

Exploring Ljubljana

Headache central this morning when I woke up. Most likely from all the changes in my sleeping schedule. Jet Lag. Is. Real. Nothing stopped me from exploring the city today, not a headache that’s for sure.

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View of Ljubljana from the castle

First adventure of the day was to see the Ljubljana castle. You can see this castle from all around the city and I knew I needed to see it for myself. Man, walking up that hill to the castle killed me. I was dead by the time I got up to the castle but too amazed by how cool it was that I kept walking. The view from the top of the castle was brilliant. Honestly, none of the photos I took do this castle city justice. Not only is the city itself so charming but look at those mountains in the background! I plan on getting closer to those sometime during the semester because Slovenia has marvelous Alps and I’m dying to see them.

After I left the castle, I took the wrong path and ended up in a part of town that I have never seen before. Unknown path emptied out into the town market, I was very excited to have found this gem. A lady owning a clothing booth saw me looking at a blush colored beret and told me to try it on. Dang, that was an astounding tactic because I am still thinking about that hat. Anyway, I continued to meander around the city and soak up its fairytale-like wonder. At last I stopped for something to eat for the first time since getting here. I discovered an area with WiFi so I stopped to talk with my family on the FaceTimes and the waiter takes my phone! He took it out out of my hands so abruptly I didn’t have any time to react. He said hello to my family and then told them it was time for me to eat. It was pretty funny and surprising. The Slovenes have been nothing but kind.

Airports on Airports on Airports

Today is the day! Today is the day that is so long it stretches into the following day. Woke up late, car got stuck in the frozen driveway, left things behind(not my anxiety), fought with automated credit card menus, and also just all the stuff that comes with going to the airport.IMG_3206 Luckily, I had my mom, sister, and nephew to drop me off and ease some of the stress. Bye family, I will miss seeing all your beautiful faces everyday!

The first flight was decent, however the lady behind me shut her window just as I had my camera lens there to take a photo, it’s fine, I’m definitely not upset about it. Also, there was a ton of turbulence, so maybe the first flight was actually terrible. Newark airport was incredibly fancy. Picture every seat with it’s own iPad ready to take your order, let you play games, and go on all the social medias. The next flight was the eight hour international flight which I wasn’t looking forward to but they had a plethora of movie choices from old favorites to new favorites. I watched three brand new movies! 2FF41F8B-C9AB-4687-8826-37A828F988B3I think it might be cheaper to go on a United flight than go to AMC and watch the movies with a small popcorn. My favorite part of the flight was my lack of ability to fall asleep. Instead of sleeping, I stared out the window at a completely black night with a brilliant display of stars. Living in the city, I do not normally get to see stars like this. I was feeling very anxious, but this set me at ease. After all, it’s hard to see God’s handiwork and not feel His presence.

The Amsterdam airport was basically a mall that also happened to have flights. From this moment onward, I heard no English words, yet I was able to get through the gate, onto a bus, and into my seat without any trouble. All I had to do was smile and nod at the flight attendants and they understood I didn’t speak Slovenian. Although I do really need to work on learning some more Slovenian because I think it is going to be more difficult than I expected.

Bottom line, I am in Ljubljana, it is beautiful and I can not wait to explore more tomorrow. For now, I am exhausted and I need to try and sleep in this small bedroom of an old Slovenian Lady’s house and try not to have to go to the bathroom because it’s really creepy. Update you guys tomorrow!

 

Leaving to Ljubljana!

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     Only two days until I leave for my study abroad trip in Ljubljana, Slovenia! For those of you who have no idea where Slovenia is(I wouldn’t know if I weren’t about to live there for 6 months), it is a very small country to the right of Italy. What language do they speak, you ask? Slovene. Do I know how to speak Slovenian? No, no I do not. I have researched a few key phrases, but luckily most everyone will be able to communicate in English. There is so much to learn about and ways to grow as a person on my trip, I am so incredibly excited and nervous for my adventure of leaving my home of KCMO to study abroad in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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Let’s talk about Ljubljana. First of all, I know I did not pronounce this city correctly the first many times I read it which is a pity because it is a gorgeous sounding name. In the Slovenian language, J’s are pronounced as Y’s. Ljubljana is actually pronounced [lyoo-BLYAH-nuh]. Amazing, right? Well, I know I am not even there yet, but all the photos I have seen have been breathtaking. I’ll update with pictures I take later, I promise. The population of Ljubljana is 270,000, which is tiny for the capital of a European country. In comparison, the population of Kansas City is 488,000 and Ljubljana is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts! One of the reasons I chose Ljubljana was due to the small town feel. Everything in Ljubljana is accessible by foot or by bicycle which I am extremely thrilled about. I can rent a bike for €3 for an entire year, and you better believe I already have that budgeted. Ljubljana is adorable and I can not wait for it to become my home away from home.

    I have always had a thirst for travel, yet I have never been outside the United States. I look forward to stepping outside my comfort zone and being challenged. Turns out I am actually flying into Slovenia on a national holiday. First challenge of the trip has already happened! Since it’s a holiday, all the offices are closed and I won’t be able to get my dorm, so…. I had to get an AirBnb for the weekend unexpectedly. Honestly though, the host seems super nice and accommodating and maybe as a local, she will have some great advice for me regarding the city. It’s difficult not knowing what dorm I will be in or where exactly I will be, who I’ll be rooming with, or what it looks like, but it’s alright, I am ready for anything! As long as I have a bed and my roommate doesn’t steal from me, I’ll be just fine. See? I’m already going with the flow and I haven’t even gotten to Slovenia yet. Weirdly enough, I can’t wait to face all the challenges that await me.

    Thank you so much for reading, I am excited to update you once I have been in Ljubljana for a while. Wish me luck on my flight!

 

Before I Leave…

I know I’ll only be in Europe for six months but there is a long list of favorite things I want to do in Kansas City before I leave.

First adventure included having a day of thrifting with my best friend. One of my absolute favorite things to do is go to thrift stores, finding treasures people leave behind. I’m at peace when sifting through old clothes, looking for that weird vintage piece that’ll only end up costing me $1.

Next, Lexi and I went for a classic KC lunch… you guessed it: BBQ. We had a fantastic lunch at Gates on 40 hwy. As soon as you walk into Gates you HAVE to know exactly what you want to order or you’ll get badgered mercilessly from the staff which is probably my favorite part about it. Gotta love getting yelled at by people taking your order. I also love that Lexi and I argued about who had to order first the whole time we were walking into the restaurant. Mmm, it was so good. I will definitely miss Kansas City BBQ.

And I’ll miss taking photos of Lexi when she is clearly incredibly uncomfortable.😆

All in all, this was the perfect KCMO day.

I Chopped Off All My Hair!

So I’ve been wanting to cut my hair for a long time but I have a long and complicated history with my hair. As a kid I always had really super long hair because that’s the way my parents liked it and I liked it that way as well. Like past my butt long, blonde, beautiful hair.

When I was 12 I lost all my hair to cancer but I held on so tightly to it. There was a point where I definitely should have shaved my head but refused, so I ended up looking like Gollum with pitiful strings of hair sprouting from my sickly little head. I never let anyone take photos of me when I was sick so here’s a terrible photo where you can kinda sorta see my hair(or lack thereof).

You can obviously tell how attached I was to my hair and how badly I was in denial that I was losing it. When it grew back in, I was CRAZY self conscious and I had a right to be. I was a middle school girl who had chubby steroid cheeks, a hospital mask, no boobs(still don’t though), and hair shorter than a boy. Needless to say, middle school was rough.

Okay, okay, back to hair. When I grew my hair back, it wasn’t really on my own terms and I hated having short hair so much because it only reminded me that I lost all my beautiful long hair. After cancer, I had one goal: get my hair back to where it was before. I grew it for years, post cancer and finally got to my long hair goal!…I didn’t feel accomplished at all, I wasn’t magically restored to the person I was before I lost it. I realized that I wasn’t defined by my long hair. I’ve had a fun time discovering who I am in the past couple of years and that person is weird, quirky, different, pessimistic, dark, sarcastic, secretly caring, and overall nothing like I was before. I’ve been struggling to figure out ways to express myself through photography, weird thrift store fashion, and funky colored hair.

So I really wanted a French bob for a long time and asked my mom to cut it(she cuts hair) but she would NOT cut it as short as I wanted it. It was actually pretty funny because she kept cutting just a little bit at a time because I’m pretty sure she was attached to my long hair at that point, haha. Point of the story is that hair does not define you and do with it what you will. Express yourselves my friends, it’s worth it and I love my new haircut!

Adventure is Out There

Hey friends, I am starting a blog for my upcoming travels to Europe next semester! For now, I am still in Kansas City, but I will write about life here while getting ready for studying abroad. I already have encountered so many things and have a ton of questions, so this is a place where I’ll just think freely. This is my first post so… it will only get better from here.