What’s Better Than Jury Duty?

A couple days after I arrived home I got a letter calling me up for jury duty. Lotsa folks gave me advice on how to avoid getting picked for a trial:

“Just tell them your uncle is a police officer.” 

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Is it weird that I wanted to get on the jury? In fact, I looked forward to it for weeks. I know I’d most likely be assigned to a parking dispute or something equally inconsequential. Still, I’ve always been interested in law and debate. And I’ve  watched way too many crime procedurals to not have a teeny tiny hope for an unrealistically intriguing story. TV drama expectations aside, I genuinely enjoy trying new things, even if they are liable to maddeningly boring .

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So the night before jury duty I was pretty disappointed when I found out that I had been excused.

Excused! I never asked to be excused! What if I had gotten into a trial, fallen in love with the court room, met an incredibly competent lawyer who inspired me to pursue a law degree, spent 10 years studying law while working, and eventually became a world-famous women’s rights lawyer, spending the rest of my life fighting for the voiceless! 

Stupid jury excusement means that there isn’t even the tiniest chance for all that to happen. I was bummed.

The next day my big sister took me on a coffee date (which actually consisted of her driving me 30 minutes to my favorite coffee shop in silence, buying me a large black coffee, and then patiently waiting for caffeine magic to turn me into a functioning human so that we could chit chat a bit. Did I mention that my sister is very patient?).

While we were at the shop a bubbly real estate broker sat down next to us with a young couple. She was answering their questions about buying their first home.

I managed to maintain a conversation of niceties with my sister while low-key listening in on the real estate conversation.

Aggh! It was so perfect. My dream is to work as a buyers broker, helping young  families find their perfect first home. I want to demystify the home buying process, empowering millennial couples to get the best deal and start their lives together on the right foot.

See, even real estate, something normally associated with investors, red tape, and $$$ can be romantic if you put the right spin on it.

I am thankful that the Lord placed that couple next to me. You see, I am a bit easily distracted when it comes to pursuing dreams. I’ve got a lot of energy, but sometimes it is hard for me to throw myself fully into pursuing one thing full-time. How do people let opportunities pass their peripheral vision without turning to look? I need 19th-century horse blinders.

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Here’s a powerful graphic from my favorite productivity book, Essentialism. It pretty fairly depicts the way I spend my energy versus the way I want to spend my energy:

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My licensure course starts on the 20th. So it’s  a good thing that I was inspired to start studying, rather than sidelined by a potentially life-changing trip to jury duty.

All things work out for good.

A Little Perspective

I’ve driven across the country 21 times now; every time I am astounded again by the artistry and diversity of the landscape. From the majestic mountains of the Mojave desert and the sunsets of West Texas to the rolling hills of California, there is much to soak in and thank God for.

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On this trip, the drive through the desert (always my favorite part) was extra special. Due to some unusual rainfall in the area, the hills and mountains were covered in grass so green I found myself wondering if it was real.

The brown hills of the I-5 had been completely transformed from this:

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via Les Schwab 

To this:

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via Pinterest

I dared not try to capture the scenery with my mediocre iPhone photography. Even pro photos don’t do it justice.

Imagine! Lying just beneath the surface of the desert dryness are seeds, ever ready. With just a little bit of rainfall, the entire landscape is transformed (into something I imagine heaven to look like).

I wonder if you could turn that into a metaphor for the dry spells of our lives?

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it…

Isaiah 35:1-2a. 

Another highlight of the trip was taking my niece and nephew up to my favorite lil spot on planet earth, Muir Woods National Monument.

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Once again, I didn’t try to take photos. The trees are just too big, too majestic. If you have never been to a redwood or sequoia forest, put it on your bucket list right now. Muir Woods offers a short 1.5 mile walk that I personally believe every human should experience at least once in their life.

The best part was that my nephew seemed to enjoy it as much as me. As I walked him through the forest, he bounced his legs and arms and gurgled almost constantly.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. 

-John Muir 

 

Update: No Surprise, Still Stuck In Texas

Our truck broke down yesterday,  which means that we are still stuck in Texas.

Don’t worry, it’s all in accordance with family tradition. My family can’t drive through Texas without some variety of minor catastrophe. And as far as catastrophes go, this one was manageable.

The moving truck ran out of diesel faster than expected (due to the harsh West Texas winds) and refused to restart after mom and I brought extra fuel from a nearby town. So it was, we were stuck in the middle of nowhere.

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literally the middle of nowhere

As we waited for a repairman to come take a look, we decided to have an ice cream picnic.

Ice cream ended up being dinner, but shhh, don’t tell anyone cause that’s naughty (and also my favorite kind of dinner).

Note: I am kinda a lil bit overtly obsessed with ice cream. Have you ever tried Bluebell? Apparently, it is made only in Texas. It might be my favorite ever (don’t tell Joe’s Ice Cream in Wales). What’s your favorite brand? 

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As if ice cream amongst the cacti wasn’t good enough, as we waited *hours* for the repairman, the sun began to set.

You can complain about the flat barrenness of the West Texas landscape, but the lack of hills, trees, and everything else makes the sky that much more dramatic. Rather than sit on top of the land, the sky encompasses you, as if you were in a dome theater or planetarium.

Sunsets and sunrises around here are like Disneyland quality light shows.

(Fun fact: When I was a wee middle-schooler, my obsession with the Texas Sky inspiredme to write a  romantic short story that ended up getting published by TeenInk… that’s embarrassing. You can check it out here if you are interested) 

 

 

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We didn’t get out of Texas yesterday, but I did get to wake up and witness another incredible South West sunrise this morning.

Here’s to hoping we can make it across the border today without any more surprises.

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Thoughts From Deep in The Heart of Texas

Ah, love a good road trip.

This has been no exception.

I earned my driver’s license two days before the trip started and have found that I really love driving. Which is surprising, considering that one time I turned down a police officer who asked me to drive illegally before I had a license… but that’s a story for another day.

Today we found Texas. My little sister couldn’t believe that we entered Texas on day two.

“Isn’t Texas like halfway?!?” she exclaimed. 

“Yup, Texas is 1/4 of the way there, 1/2 of the way there and 3/4ths of the way there, so hang on”. 

Course, sis and I have already had our share of adventures. From impromptu guitar busking in Georgia…

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…to singing parking lot duets at the top of our lungs in Alabama.

And then there are the lazy periods in between rest area jump rope breaks.

I’ve been studying real estate to prepare for my February class (so excited to jump head-long into a new career!) and my mom and I are listening to a lecture series on Winston Churchill.

In between the learning, singing, and driving, there is still too much time to think. The lull of the car on bumpy roads against a backdrop of fastly changing scenery offers a perfect environment for reflection.

A Path Appears

Within the vast hazy nothingness of my future, a few cloudy something-or-anothers are forming.  In other words, I still don’t have a 5-year plan (shocker!). I have a one week plan. 
 
This coming Friday my parents and lil sis will be driving across the United States. We’ll be helping my brother drive his moving truck across. 
 
I’ve ridden across The States 20 times, but this is going to be the best trip yet. 
 
*You know you’ve road tripped one too many times when gas stations in Illinois and rest stops in the heart of Texas seem vaguely familiar
It is the perfect time for roadtrip number 21. There is nothing like traversing the great plains of the United States with books, family, and long periods of music-listening nothingness.
 
This Friday we will start the 5 day journey. I’m hoping to blog regularly throughout the trip. So watch out for a whole lotta crazy sister-to-sister singing, caffinated tirades,  and, most likely, a good bit of soul searching
P.S. Yes, the title of this blogpost  is a reference to a great book I read last year about living a life that matters. 

I Dropped Out Of College… Now What?

Most of you know that an unexpected turn of events led me to end my European adventure a year and a half early.

Curious? I’d love to tell you the whole story. But at the end of the day this is the internet, not my diary.

I dreamed about going to college loads as a kid. I dreamed about what it would feel like to graduate. This was not part of high-school-Susanna’s Comprehensive Plan For Life.

I had plans for if I got accepted or rejected to such-and-such school. I had plans for if I won such-and-such scholarship.

Although life is wrought with uncertainty, I figured there wasn’t much a great plan couldn’t account for.

The apocalypse could’ve come and I’d still have found my way to college. Yet, for all that time spent planning, I never thought to make a plan that involved dropping out of college.

I’m back with my parents and siblings and home from the scary stuff. Yet the reality is that I’m farther into uncharted territory than I’ve ever been in my life.

You can be sure my journal is chalk full of lists, charts, schedules and other ways of trying to figure this all out. Still, I’m willing to admit, for the first time in a long time, that…

I have no idea what my life is going to look like.

I’ve strayed too far from the formula to ever fit back into the life I expected of myself.

(High school + college + bible school + marriage… you know the one?)

 

I’m excited.

An Unexpected Goodbye

Dearest MissAdventure Readers,

At the end of 2016 I found myself facing some pretty tough decisions.

As you know, I was scheduled to spend Christmas Recess in Germany. I did get to Stuttgart for a week and had a lovely time. However, less than halfway into my time there I ended up traveling home to the US unexpectedly. Now it looks like I will be staying here in The States indefinitely.

Yes, that means I am dropping out of university. And yes, in a sense it means that my adventure in Wales is over for good.

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I loved everything about living and studying in Wales. I am going to miss my British friends and professors dearly. I learned much from studying in another country, and even more from just living there.

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I had to live abroad for a year and a half. I consider my time in Wales to be one of the most glorious chapters in my life thus far. It ended sooner than I expected, but that does not in any way detract from what it was while it lasted.

I am still unclear where life will take me in the coming months. I know this much:

I may be helping my brother’s family move across the country (road trip anyone?).

I will be spending lots of time with my younger siblings, homeschooling them and making up for the time lost while abroad.

I have a few serious writing projects to pursue.

I’ve got an epic reading list to devour.

I may attend the local community college and/or take online MOOC classes.

I will probably pursue my life-long dream of becoming a real-estate broker.

So you can see, there are a whole lot of uncertainties. Thus, this blog will have to evolve quite a bit. I understand that if you started following me because you were curious about studying abroad, our journey together may be coming to an end. That’s fine! Thanks for joining me!

However, if you’ve enjoyed following the mishaps and stupid mistakes that make up my life, I welcome you to stay on for the ride.

I don’t know where I am going. I cannot promise international travel; in fact, I don’t expect any. Still, I’ve got a feeling that there are a lot more exciting turns of a new kind on the horizon. I am ready to embrace them as they come. And I am sure that the adventure is only beginning.

Sincerely,

Susanna

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Up from the Abyss… When Studying Abroad Ain’t Perfect (and an announcement!)

 

Dearest blogging buddies and friends,

I’m hoping you didn’t notice that life updates, blogposts, emails… have all fallen into an abyss this term. Last summer my bestest friend (and incredible blogger over at Crafted Fragments) taught me that it is okay to not be okay. So I guess I am here to admit that

*drum roll please*

*actually just kidding, it really not that dramatic*

I haven’t been okay.

Second year has been much more challenging, academically, spiritually, and emotionally than first year.

It would be unfair for me, as a blogger and public promotor of studying abroad, to pretend that studying abroad is all roses and sunshine. I still think that studying abroad is a worthwhile experience, but I am learning more and more how challenging it can be.

 

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Dramatic photo of nature to make sure you realise how serious this post is.

 

I like to blog about the embarrassing and hilarious mishaps, and yet I’ve been in such a stinky mood lately that I haven’t been able to turn misadventures into blogposts.

*Can someone interrupt here and say “THAT IS OKAY!”… Nope? Nooone. Kay, I’m just gonna pretend someone did and keep on…*

Despite a fair amount of stress, confusion and general moohoomooness, I’m surrounded by incredible people who make my life worth waking up to live each morning. And I’ve got the support of my incredible family and friends back at home.

Despite the challenges, I’m still having the adventure of a life time.

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Dramatic photo of me on swing to make sure you get the point.

 

So, as I get back onto my feet after a rough term, expect to see more blogposts (amazing guest post coming up this week!), more adventures, and more positivity.

I’ve realised that figuring things out all on my lonsesome is no way to live. So, for better or worse, this blog is going to continue to be my channel to turn those embarassing face-palm moments into (hopefully) entertaining and/or inspiring (don’t wanna get too ambitious) blogposts.

In other words my grumpiness, moohoomoo, emmbarassing moments, and other emotional garbage is making a comeback. So brace yourselves.

AND

One other teeny tiny thing.

Remember how last year I spent my Easter Holiday in Germany and fell head over heels in love with the country? Well, I’m going back to visit friends in Germany. I’ll be there for three weeks over Christmas.

Good things are coming.

Feel free to scream excitedly in the comments because this is a very. big. happy. deal.

Also, what are your plans for Christmas Recess (Winter break for da Americans)?

All my love,

Susanna

My First Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom.

What is Bonfire Night?

Bonfire Night, (also known as Guy Fawkes night)  is a lovely British tradition in which families come together for an evening around an outdoor fire. The origins come from the 5th of November 1605 when Guy Fawkes and other plotters were discovered attempting to lay gunpowder under the House of Lords. The people of London were given permission to light bonfires to celebrate that the assination attempt against thier king had gone bust. Ever since the British have commemorated this day with fireworks, campfire food, and burning scarecrows of ‘Guy Fawkes’.

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The verdict is in, Bonfire Night is (minus the effigy burning) is something I could definitely get into… maybe I’ll bring it back to The States with me. I feel I understand more about childhood in the UK.  I mean, nothing beats family time under the nostalgic autumn breeze.

This morning, I took a walk back-in-time.

Admittedly folks, it has been a rough couple o weeks. I love my history classes, but keeping my head above the water with non-school related commitments is a full-time job. Now I’ve got two essays almost due that, no matter how much I research and plan, are refusing to come out easy.

Enough with the moohoomoo… 

I woke up this morning and decided to kick off Reading Week with some much-needed spontaneous exploration. I pulled on my warmest clothes and headed into the misty morning drizzle to my favorite park.

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Admired this tree trunk for a while. It made me think, only a true dreamer would carve her masterpiece into a piece of rotting wood.

Normally I stop about a half a mile into the park at a lovely bridge, my favorite thinking spot after difficult lectures or bad days. This time I kept walking…

I walked farther than I ever had before. A gorgeous cathedral spire broke through the mist ahead of me and I walked toward it.

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After about another half mile of walking, I ran into a huge house. The sound of singing nuns drifted through the trees. I was pretty sure I had walked right out of real life into a fairytale.

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Outside of the cathedral lay quaint rows of houses and businesses, a tea room and a butcher shop.

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I realized that I was in a village. A real, legit, non-touristy, and yet still way too picturesque to be true Welsh village.

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Around the corner from the cathedral stood what looked to be a castle gate-house. Kids and teens in school uniform marched through the gate.

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Naturally, I figured I’d wander in behind them… Keep wandering til you get kicked out right?

Inside the gate was a public green space. Down a narrow path the most mystical of doors leading to a cathedral school.

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Could this be real? There was a legit old-fashioned bike with a basket parked outside the gate. Young good-lookin teachers followed students into the school. Everyone in the town was dressed in sweaters and hats and cozy looking vests and boots.

Fun Fact: when I got home I looked up the village and found out that the cathedral school I found was one that Roal Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) attended.

After checking around for cameras (this has got to be a movie set, right?), I continued to meander the the tiny town. Guys, it was heavenly. When I had had my fill I walked back past the house of singing nuns (they were still singing), down to the trail that had led me there, and home to the loud dusty streets of my city.

This morning reminded me that if I am to stay sane this year I need to take a bit more time out of my schedule to wander. Something about getting out of the city, out of the rigamarole and rat race of a competitive fast-paced life, into the fresh air… following a path you’ve never been down before with absolutely no expectation of where you are going…

Ah yah, so therapeutic. As I walked I thought about what is most important to me. I considered why I am in Wales. I wondered about what I am doing with my life.

Spoiler alert, I didn’t get any answers. Yet somehow I picked up enough of an energy to face my own reality again.

I hope you enjoyed, despite my notable lack of photography skills.

As ever,

Keep Exploring!