Thursday, 24 July 2014

I grew up in Swansea

A few months ago whilst reminiscing about our time at university in Swansea, Adam said to me "you were born in Birmingham, but you grew up in Swansea." Whilst mocking him for how corny it sounded (and secretly wishing it had been me that had said it, because it's kind of a cute line) I couldn't help but be mind-blown about how true it was.

When I was 18 I was cripplingly shy, I was reserved, I was a worrier, I was totally dependent on my boyfriend, my parents and my group of friends I had made in school. I was terrified about having to do things on my own, about having to do new things, about being out of my 'comfort zone'. I was petrified of moving away from home, of having to grow up and stand on my own two feet, of having to be brave and strong. I was convinced I was going to fail.

I'm 21 now and I stand before you still shy, still a worrier (somethings just aren't ever going to change) but a completely different person.

I remember the first time I ever visited Swansea, with Adam in July 2010. I remember walking along the sea front all the way to Mumbles and back and falling madly in love with the views and the city. I also remember the sinking feeling in my stomach, the voice in my head screaming that I couldn't do it, that I couldn't be happy here. I remember two weeks into the start of my degree, crying to Adam about how much I hated my life, how much I hated it here and how I was so dangerously close to quitting.

And now I sit here, laughing at how stupid I once was, smiling at the thought of how amazing these past three years have been and with tears welling up in my eyes because its all coming to an end. And that voice inside my head is now screaming "YOU DID IT! YOU FUCKING DID IT! WASN'T THAT FUN?"

I guess I've been on a 'journey'. I'm a different person, a better person. I went to university and I got a degree which I'm so proud of and will be so useful to me when it comes to future career options. But I got so much more than just a degree.  I fell in love with the city of Swansea and with the freedom and independence that came with living on my own. I got a best friend, I got three years worth of fun, happy and unforgettable memories and, perhaps most importantly, I gained a fresh set eyes. Through these eyes I saw everything differently. I saw myself differently, I saw things that were good about me and I stopped being so self-deprecating and because of this I saw my future differently. I realised it didn't have to be as bleak as I'd always envisioned because I was 'too shy/too stupid/too clumsy/too ugly/too bla bla bla' to get anywhere. I realised I had so much to look forward to, I was so lucky to be where I was and have what I had and I was (and still am) very excited about what was to come.

It's finished now. Over. I've officially graduated. I've moved out of Swansea and said tearful goodbye's to the friends I made there. But I will carry these three years with me forever because Adam's right, I did grow up here. I changed and I grew. I had sex for the first time here (TMI? probably, sorry), I made friends that I actually wanted to be around forever, I tackled my depression and anxiety, I learnt that I wouldn't be happy if I wasn't a primary school teacher, I became a vegetarian, I discovered I could actually live on my own (AND BLOODY LOVE IT), I started down the path of health, exercise and fitness and I put in a shit load of hard work and came out with a 2:1 degree.

All that's left to say now I guess is, thank you Swansea. You've changed my life, you've made me happier then I ever thought I could be and, whilst I'm so sad to leave you, you've given me a fresh pair of eyes to look at the future with and I'm not scared anymore. Well, at least not as much.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Oh Vienna | Day 1

I like to plan what I'm going to get people for their birthday or Christmas well in advance. So last November, I slyly got Adam to tell me where he would most like to next travel in Europe and quickly set about booking us up a surprise birthday trip. With it being our last year at university and therefore being super busy with exams and dissertations and spending lots of time getting drunk with our friends, I booked the trip for early June. 

So on the 7th June at 8:30 am we set off from London Gatwick to Vienna. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about Vienna. It wouldn't have been my first choice (or 10th or 15th...) and I really wasn't sure what to expect or what there would be to do/see there and even watching one of my all time favourite movies Before Sunrise, which was set in Vienna and really did make it look stunning and interesting, didn't stop me thinking it wouldn't be as good as our other trips abroad. Oh, how wrong I was!

As soon as we began exploring I fell in love (sidenote... you will notice that I fall in love often, with places, with things, with experiences... some people might think I'm just over exaggerating or using the term 'falling in love' too easily but I actually do fall in love, over and over and over again. I feel so strongly about everything I feel anything about that 'falling in love' with things (or, you know, hating things with fiery passion) happen on an almost daily basis). Day 1 constituted settling into our hostel, taking a quick power nap and getting acquainted with the city, wandering around and soaking up the sights. Here are a few pictures of that first day.

Over the next couple of posts about this city, with both my words and pictures I'm going to try to set the scene. I'm going to try to explain Vienna. I'm going to try to do Vienna justice but please forgive me  if I can't because it is going to be a bloody tough job. Capturing a city such as Vienna should really be left to the John Shaw's or Fitzgerald's of the world. Describing any city should be actually. But, as I've done in the past and will undoubtadly contine to do, I'm going to give it a whirl. Keep your eyes peeled for the next few up and coming blog posts about my (way too short) time in Vienna, Austria.