Up, Up and Away.

More than 12 hours ago (for me, at least; it is 1100 in London, England), I waved goodbye to my amazing boyfriend as I stepped passed the invisible line that is airport security and into the fate of the next 48 hours: travel, travel and – yup, you guessed it – more travel. Within 48 hours from 6pm, I will have seen the inside of 4 different airports; and 3 countries that is not my own. As I sit here in London Heathrow Airport sipping a latte and fighting the urge to close my eyes for just 2 minutes, I feel strangely at ease. Except for the fact that when I went to the coffee shop and asked for a regular coffee, they asked if I meant a latte. We are not at Tim Horton’s anymore, Toto.

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It’s a cloudy day in London, England.

In the weeks leading up to this departure, I was facing a mix of excitement and nerves; I very often thought to myself “what the heck am I doing??”. I second guessed my ability to do this, and especially for 90 days. My thoughts ranged from “what if something happened?” to “what if something went wrong?” to “what if I don’t accomplish what I am supposed too?” and “what if I love it so much I don’t want to come home?” And then I realized – it’s okay if something goes wrong, or if something happens, or if I suck at my job, because I am strong and I can get through it. I’ll be safer, I’ll work harder, and I’ll get stronger. It is so surreal to be doing this. But, I think the weight of what I am setting off to do is finally sinking in, and it’s a heaviness that I now embrace with open arms. I am setting off, more than half way across the world, to make a difference. There is something very calming about that. Even though I am not 100% sure how this mandate will play out, or if it will be anything like I have imagined thus far, I do know it will be great.

My boyfriend has been more supportive that I ever could have hoped, and I find myself thanking the universe for bringing me to him. He has never failed to tell me how proud he is of me for setting off on this adventure. 90 days is a long time, but I know he will be right there at the airport the second my flight touches ground, welcoming me home with open arms and the smile I have come to love.

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This goodbye was only a “see you later” – thanks for being an amazing man.

My stay in London will be short lived; in less than 12 hours I will be on my next flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and then onto my final destination in Tanzania.

Bring it on, Africa.

J xo

Thank you, Sweden, for teaching me that I am okay.

Today, I took a solo day trip – something I had yet to do since my arrival in Sweden. I hopped on a train and got off in Motala, a beautiful town located on Lake Vättern and part of the Göta Kanal. I walked from the train station to the city center, found a cute cafe in the harbor and grabbed myself a bite to eat. I wandered over to the Motor Museum, grabbed an ice cream bar and sat on the pier in what may very well be one of the most beautiful days in the two weeks that I have been here.

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Since I got here I found myself feeling a bit unsteady. Not really having a routine, my brain has been in a constant whirlwind of thoughts. I’ve had a lot of fun, and I have seen a lot, but today I needed to take some time to explore things on my own.

Today, an incredible thing happened. Something people always talk about but it never feels like it will happen. Today, I made peace with myself. I forgave the people in my past – with or without an apology – I let my worries go, and I found my center. It’s something I have struggled to do, and today sitting in the harbor in a foreign country watching the waves, something within me finally clicked. I felt free. I felt full of life. Emotions crashed over me, and I felt like crying and screaming and laughing all at the same time, but that click was definitely there. Something I had been looking for finally made sense. I finally made sense.

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In life, I feel like we take things for granted. Money, happiness, friends, family, health. It’s all taken for granted. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life feeling like I’ve been in a trance; feeling lost, sometimes confused, sometimes alone. But what I realized today, what I wish I had realized sooner, is that it’s okay. It is okay to be sad, and angry, and frustrated, or incredibly elated at everything. But it’s important to find your center. Every high has a low, what goes up must come down, every peak has a trough – it is all so true. But in the middle of the parabola of life, there is a center. Everyone has one. Sweden showed me mine. Sweden taught me that I am okay. 

xoxo

Your centered traveler

Sweden, here I am!

The past 48 hours have definitely been interesting. In 48 hours I have gotten no more than 3 hours of sleep. The adjustment to the time zone difference (6 hours ahead of Canada) has been tough, and I have been in overdrive since I first landed in Copenhagen. The adrenaline has not settled, and it is 2:30am my time and I should really be sleeping but I promised myself I’d write this post today.

First things first. Sweden. Is. Beautiful. The architecture I saw in Stockholm was unlike anything I’ve seen before. All of the buildings are of equal height, which of course satisfies the little perfectionist in me. And they are all painted different, unique colors. One thing I’ve noticed is that everyone pretty much walks everywhere, or has a bicycle. Cars (especially in Linkoping) are limited, which is really neat to see, and of course keeps the fresh air feeling exactly that – fresh.

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Do you understand my satisfaction?

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Stockholm, Sweden

In Stockholm, my friend and I decided to take a walk and find a bar that we could have a drink at. We found one – and neither the bartender or the waitress spoke English, which is uncommon in Sweden. Needless to say, my friend and I learned the Svenska word for beer (öl, pronouced “oh-le”) really quickly. I’m starting to notice that the people here are quick to help if needed, too. If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, they will phonetically sound it out for you the best they can (not going to lie, I learned öl, and it took me a while).

Today, I finally arrived at the university. The arrival and settling in at Linkoping was a little rough – again, just adjustment. For starters, being so sleep deprived, my emotions have been ALL over the place, which of course resulted in me crying for a solid 5 minutes before I pulled myself together and put that well known smile back on my face. Whoever said there’s nothing that good company and hot water can’t fix really knew what they were talking about.

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My happy, tourist-y self

There’s so much that I could say about this country, and the cities I’ve been in thus far. It’s different here than in Canada. A good difference. A GREAT different. I am already in love with this place. I can only imagine how much that love will grow within the next 4 weeks, and how hard it’s going to be to leave.

With love from Sweden,

Jess

 

Kiddo, you’ve got to love yourself

As you know, I am a second year BScN student in Ontario. That being said, my opportunities for abroad travel are very slim because of the specific course requirements and practicum requirements that are put into place for our success. Fast forward to this year. In February 2016, I was presented with an opportunity I never thought I’d follow through on, one that I never thought in a million years would be possible. I was informed by my school’s International Office that there was a program this summer that would allow me to study for 4 weeks at Linköping University in Linköping, Sweden. I made an appointment with the International Office to go in that same day, and I filled out the application to the university, not even really thinking about actually getting accepted. It is a super competitive program and I applied on the last day. Literally, I sat down and my advisor said to me “so it’s the last day to get applications in so if you are even thinking about it, apply. You can always withdraw the application later”. So, I did. And it may very well be the best decision I have ever made.

A little while ago, I came across this post on facebook:

KID

I came across it before I ever considered traveling abroad; and to be fully honest, its part of the reason I took that spur of the moment opportunity and filled out the application. Sure, I want to travel the world and explore new places and fall in love with stupid addresses (I’m looking at you, Sweden) but I realized then that even more so I wanted to explore my own mind, my own body and fall in love with myself. I think there are opportunities in life that you just cannot say “no” to – I think this is one of them. I’ve never fully known who I am – I’ve never really been “alone”. I’ve been through some things that have made me a better person, but I’m still deeply rooted in my past, and I need to break free of those roots and let myself grow – for the sake of me now, in this moment, and the me in 10 years who will be caring for patients in a hospital somewhere listening to their life stories and wishing I had taken chances when I could.

I’m tired of living my life in the passenger seat – doing what I think people would want me to do and not doing what I want to do. I’m a people pleaser – I always have been. I seek approval for my actions, and never, ever do anything without running it by someone else first. I want people to want me, to love me. But the sad part is, while I was so busy trying to make people love me, I forgot to love myself.

And it’s really about time that I start loving myself.

xoxo,

your little world traveler.