What a year

Merry Christmas everybody. We’ve come to the end of 2015.

No idea how I made it. Really don’t. I’m sitting here in my old bedroom at my parents’ house and I’m wondering how on earth I survived all the shenanigans, all the heartaches, all the stress, all the madness. All the changes. Another year gone by. Time continues to pass, and I continue to wonder at what the heck I am doing with my life.

Keep calm and carry on, as they say.

I don’t think I could get used to this

I have been living now without hot water for over two weeks. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but damn now I know what a luxury hot shower-able water is. The heater broke a couple weeks ago while we were away for the weekend in Cincinnati, and I’ve been bathing myself in icy cold water since. We have resorted to boiling a giant pot of water on the kitchen stove, and mixing it with the cold shower in order to create a more tolerable stream. My mother likes doing it, she says that’s how it always is in the Philippines (totally not true, either we had hot water or lukewarm/cool ocean water there, not icy cold!).

In other news, I got the part-time retail job. Despite the minimum wage and part-time hours, I’m actually looking forward to it, as I’ve never worked in retail before. And it’s a well-known company and one of my good friends already works there. So I have that and my office job (and one of the advantages of working for my dad is the incredibly flexible work hours), as well as a new unpaid internship that I’ve recently started. Oh, and I’m also hoping to hear back from a work-from-home job. Yay, getting busy as a bee again. And earning some money while at it!

I also made a visit to the gynecologist today. For the last month I’d been pressuring my mom to make me an appointment, mostly because I need a new prescription for birth control pills and obviously I can’t get that again through my school. And aside from the awkward “Why, do you think you’re pregnant?!” questions, she grudgingly agreed. Funny thing was, at the doctor’s I kind of played it off as if it were my very first gynecological visit. They kept asking me if I’d ever had a pap smear, to which I kept saying no. But I think I have, when I visited the women’s health clinic at school last summer. >_< Anyway, I got some much needed testing done and reassurance that I'm all normal down there. Hurrah. Oh, and one last thing: I finally changed the language on my iPod back from Spanish to English. I had set it to Spanish while I was in Costa Rica, and have been too lazy ever since to change it back, much to the chagrin of my family and friends (14-year-old brother: "Can I play on your iPod? WHY IS THIS IN SPANISH?"). If it weren't for the fact that I nearly got lost trying to follow the Spanish map directions on my iPod a couple weekends ago, it'd probably still be that way. But my Facebook's still in Spanish, heh.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” — Nelson Mandela

Amazing. I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with me.

Funnily enough, I came across that quote while reading through the “Welcome Back” guide the study abroad office sent me. And I guess you could say it’s about time I accepted that I’ve definitely changed in so many ways since my time abroad in Costa Rica. And it’s also about time I’ve accepted the fact that that chapter of my life is over and it’s time to move on.

Bye bye! 🙁

Before, I was dead set on spending the rest of my life in Chicago. After graduation, I would find a job in the city and live in a swanky apartment with either my cousin or other friends. Now, I’m not so sure anymore where “home” will be in the future. I liked my simpler life in Costa Rica. I could care less about finding that perfect 9-5 job downtown now. Obviously, nothing about Chicago has changed (much) — it’s my own demeanor that has.

People are always telling you to live it up while you can and to enjoy the moment, but why is it people never talk about what happens after the “moment”? I lived my summer to the fullest last year and I only ended up being depressed when it ended and I had to pack up for Costa Rica. Then in Costa Rica I had the time of my life and now it’s over and I’m depressed — again. I know I made promises to make my last and only senior year semester the best ever, but do I really want to do that now? Can I really make it through a third straight adrenaline rush of life and then only end up feeling deflated again when it’s over? I’m ready for college to end so I can start finding some semblance of stability in my life. I need to start that process of letting college go now before it gets any worse.

On a less somber note, I’ve started working on a scrapbook for my semester abroad. Sort of. I uploaded 240 pictures to my Wal-Mart photo account and I’m waiting for a friend to send more to me. But seriously…240 pictures. With shipping and handling, that’s about $32. And then on top of that I’m gonna have to buy a book to put it all in and then supplies and fun stuff to make it with! I’ve already filtered through my uploads 2 times to cut down the amount; looks like I’m going to have to do it a few more times!

Even further proof that I’m trying my darndest to move on is the ambitious plans I’m making for this domain. After over a year of this city skyline, I want to make a new one. Considering I haven’t done any real HTML since I made this layout then (heh), I’m a bit nervous about the time I’m going to have to invest for this. And I want to get the ball rolling on my sports blog. I tried starting one last summer, but then I kind of left it alone for awhile. I’ve been mainly debating about whether to design a theme for it or to just use a premade (which I really dislike doing…I like all my sites to be my own designs), so we’ll see.

There’s a lot to say about 2010

New Year is a rather strange holiday for me. Although they signal the start of a new calendar year, for me it doesn’t really signal much else. My own personal New Year has always been around my birthday, mostly because in August my age changes and a new school year begins. But alas, 2010 is coming to a close, and naturally, reflection occurs.

Earlier this year I made a series of propositions for myself, things to work toward to in my life. (The only “resolution” I actually made this year was to develop Kim Kardashian-esque hair, which I actually think I didn’t do too bad on.) One of them concerned my family, and I guess it’s safe to say my view on things have changed a bit since January. The 4 months I spent away in Costa Rica could not have been more of a mixed blessing. My time abroad made me realize my real mother, on some level, does love me. I no longer worried constantly about whether I’d get that dreaded phone call. Since my contact with them was limited, my anxiety about my family lessened. Instead, I trusted that everything would be OK.

And then, I was exposed to another kind of family life. It’s a bit unfair to compare my real family to my host family, but living with an actual loving, respectful family was like taking a giant breath of fresh air. My host mother is quite possibly the most loving person I have ever met; the complete opposite of my real mom. With them, I didn’t worry about anything. And I’m starting to truly miss that.

I’ve realized something. Home is a very relative term. For years, my “home” has always been here with my family in this typical suburban house. It’s where I’ve always planned to come back to, it’s where my life essentially revolves around. But now, two weeks into my return to American society, I find myself longing to go “home” elsewhere. I never thought I could settle my life anywhere outside of the Chicago area, but now I can. Even though all my belongings and memories are here, I can’t quite say that I feel like my life is here anymore. I’m starting to feel like there’s nothing — and nobody — left here for me anymore.

2011’s going to be quite the year. If all things go according to plan, I’ll be completing my undergraduate degree in May. There’ll be no going back to university after that, no going back to any kind of schooling after that. Maybe things will get better, or they’ll continue to get worse.

But all I want for the new year is to find that peace of mind again, the one I miraculously found in my time away. I need to be at peace.

I’m home


Well, not completely ugh. It’s nice to be able to sleep in my comfy bed again, watch TV whenever I want, and have my entire wardrobe available to me again.

But needless to say, I’m already missing Costa Rica dearly.

It’s the weirdest feeling. I don’t want to hate being home, but at the same time I’m hating being away from Costa Rica. I went to several places today, including the DMV, Meijer, the mall, and Wal-Mart; each time, it was like I almost forgot how to communicate in English. I kept having to remind myself not to say things like “Buenas” (Greetings/Hello) or “Con permiso” (Excuse me) or “Gracias” (Thank you [in case you didn’t know that :P]). Every time I’d hear people speak in Spanish around me, I’d get slightly excited and would strain my ears to listen. I’ve been listening to my “puravida” playlist nonstop and looking longingly at the supplies of Cacique, Flor de Caña and Imperial I have laying on my bed. Memories of the past 4 months keep flooding back to me.

Is this what they mean by reverse culture shock?

In other news, like I’d previously mentioned, I went to the DMV today to finally renew my driver’s license. The guy gave me a hard time at first, because my license had expired long time ago while I was in Costa Rica. But I finally got my horizontal, 21+ ID. And then after I went and bought alcohol at Meijer. It was only a 6-pack of Woodchucks, but buying alcohol legally for the first time in the U.S. was definitely quite exhilarating.