(Insert travel cliche)

There have been exactly two problems with my stay at USW so far.

First, my computer isn’t operational anymore, meaning that I couldn’t post pictures from the trip to Bath that Haley and I took this past Saturday. Im writing this post off the WordPress app and I’m a little bitter that I didn’t take any photos with my phone camera. Suffice to say the Roman baths were worth every pence spent on them. The water was rust green and warm enough that steam made a thin film over the surface; the statues were better preserved than I could have expected, with facial features that could still look you in the face; there was a fully reconstructed skeleton of a worker inside the museum, with his tomb and wrappings underneath. I geeked out.

The second thing that’s been problematic is the lack of things to do on the USW campus for the next few days. We have no classes, no meetings, no schedules and no responsibilities. So Haley and I, being the not-so-frugal problem solvers that we are, booked ourselves a flight to Dublin, where we’re staying in a hostel that used to be a studio that recorded the likes of U2 and Van Morrison (among others). If you don’t think that’s kick ass, you’re wrong.
I’ve said it before: it comes in waves. I forget, sometimes, that I’m not a few hours’ drive from home. But then I remember that in two weeks Haley and I have been in four completely different new countries, explored four different cities, and managed to avoid the W-curve and ride our high with no foreseeable lows in sight. We are very, very lucky. But we worked very, very hard to be here.

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I’m On A Roller Coaster that Only Goes Up, My Friend

The tourist fever took¬†hold of Haley and me and firmly dragged us into the heart of Cardiff this afternoon. We’ve somehow managed to become train experts over the course of four days; we rode into the heart of the city and set off to wander around and see if we could find our way home.

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We took a double-decker bus around the city, and honestly, it’s so much smaller than I expected — it’s beautiful and gorgeous and I’m never leaving, but it’s small enough that I think I’d be okay finding my way around after today, even with my dismal sense of direction. It looped around shops —-IMG_0057– and Cardiff Bay —

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— and dropped us back off at Cardiff Castle.IMG_0151

The realization that I’m thousands of miles away comes in waves. Sometimes, I dearly miss my friends and family back home. I miss my dachshund Ralph, and my pool, and my teammates. But other times it’s hard to contain how overwhelmingly lucky I feel. Every person I’ve met has been friendly and lovely and polite. I hear twenty different languages a day and still see the same smiles every time I see a new face. I ran the mountains today and stopped for twenty minutes to talk to an old man with a German Shepard that only wanted to hear about how the Grand Canyon looks at sunset. All I could tell him was that I’d never seen it, but that it couldn’t be more beautiful than how the sun hits the hills as it goes down behind my campus.

I’m never coming home. Sorry Mom.

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Things That Have Happened in the Past 24 Hours:

–I said goodbye to all things American, including nickels, socially acceptable sweat pants, and Chicago accents

mom and lee

Also, these two, which was particularly difficult.

–I took my first flight over the Atlantic Ocean and am infinitely grateful that it was at night because if I’d been able to see that much water that far below me I might have fainted

–An artery in my brain almost burst when Haley put her passport in the wrong pocket and thought she’d lost it before we even made it to the UK

–We checked into accommodation, and I’m pleasantly surprised; each of us gets a single with an attached bathroom, and six flatmates share a kitchen area

–Registered for International Welcome Week and received a so-geeky-it’s-hilarious lanyard with a “CAITLIN – AMERICAN” nametag
–Ate an entire 10-inch pizza by myself for dinner because it has been a looooooong 24 hours

–Realized just how God awful the exchange rate is from USD to pounds

–Cried like a baby when I found the note my dad left me in my luggage, which I think was his intention and which I both love and hate him for

–Currently sitting back and enjoying the view out of my beautiful, wonderful, stationed-directly-in-Treforest window.

because who wouldn't want to stare out the window at this forever?

because who wouldn’t want to stare out the window at this forever?

Packing, Or: Things I Hate More Than the Dentist

I’ve done it. I’ve finally, after three full days at home, managed to watch every free episode of Bob’s Burgers available on-demand. I’ve explored the final frontier of procrastination, have mapped the territory and have laughed at the awkward and uncomfortable.

With nothing left to do I managed to pack every bit of “necessary” clothing into two suitcases in two hours. And now, exhausted, I’ve thrown every reject in a pile in the closet to deal with in three months. I’m nothing if not consistent in my procrastination. (Maybe my mom will find it and clean it up before I get home. A girl can dream.)

Nothing about this trip feels real yet. I have T-13 hours until arrival at the airport and I still feel like I could be heading back to Eastern any day. Haley keeps asking if I’m nervous, and I think “yes” is still the right answer, but not because I’m afraid of things going wrong. I’m more afraid of unknown. What happens when we get there?

No answers until we leave. Let the countdown begin.