Take Chances, Make Mistakes And Get Messy!

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For those who grew up in the 90s, the above quote should be familiar to you if you watched the cartoon television show the Magic School Bus. But if you didn’t, the plot of this show was about a teacher who would take her class on educational field trips with the help of her magical school bus.

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 (http://badtadmd.com/mrs-frizzle-and-the-magic-school-bus/)

 These trips ranged from going into outer space, going back in time with the dinosaurs or even traveling inside the human body! You name it, this class did it, but before every trip the eccentric teacher Miss Frizzle would always say “It’s time to take chance, makes mistakes and get messy!” This quote has recently come back to me and I have to say Miss Frizzle makes a good point. Where would we be without taking chances or making mistakes in life? Every day is a guessing game is seems. We try to do the right thing, make good decisions and go down the right path; but sometimes the right decision isn’t always clear. It’s hard to see how things will turn out but we will never know unless we jump in and get messy.

Since I am the queen of worrying, making the “right” decision or any decision was difficult. I was always worried about the outcome and for that reason I never took any chances. I always went the safe route; asking people to make decisions for me, and feeling horrible if I made the slightest mistake. Not a great way to live.

I now know that mistakes are part of everyday life and I should not be afraid to make them. I’m not sure when it clicked for me but it most likely came with time, as I began living on my own without my parents to rely on. But I think it was Shane who helped me realize that mistakes are ok. I think as long as you are living your life and making your own decisions, you learn from those mistakes and are a better person for it. If you never made mistakes, how would you grow or mature? I’m glad I’m starting to get messy and take chances. Sure I’m worried about going abroad. Challenging things could happen to me but it’s a chance I’m willing to take. Hopefully the bad things will be outnumbered by the good things, and I can make mistakes and learn from them.

I don’t want to be like Arnold from the magic school bus who always said “I knew I should have stayed home today”.

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(http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/tv-shows/The-Magic-School-Bus/Arnold-Perlstein/)

(http://www.kidsciencekits.com/products-msb-videos.html)

 I want to have courage like Ms. Frizzle and be the one to say “To the Bus!” It seems silly to be taking advice from a cartoon show, but I’m sure everyone can say they have learned something from their favorite childhood TV show at one time or another.

So with that I am ready for Sweden and anything else that comes my way in the future. I am going to take chances in life, not be afraid of making mistakes (or worrying about past mistakes) and get messy by jumping into what life has to offer with both feet!

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(http://ginsengsandiego.com/blog/excerpts-from-deep-yoga/jump-in-all-the-puddles/)

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FOMO

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I seem to be big on abbreviations lately, but I thought since I spoke of the motto YOLO last week I would touch on another term that is common in pop culture today, FOMO. For those who don’t know, FOMO is a type of social anxiety and it stands for “FEAR OF MISSING OUT”. Those who are close to me all know that FOMO is my middle name (insert sticking tongue out at my sister Allison here). I always hate to miss out on things whether it’s a family get together, a road trip with friends or even donut day at work. I like to be in on everything, know all the information, and experience all the fun. It’s silly that such a simple thing such as missing donuts at work could make me feel so left out, but to some degree it does. So when I had told myself I could never study abroad, I felt that feeling of FOMO. What would I miss out on if I never went? I didn’t have the typical university experience of meeting great friends and doing fun activities because I was too sick and depressed to go out or meet people. So I always thought if I went abroad for a semester that would be my chance. Fit the whole  four year university experience into six months and have the time of my life, but, (as you now have learned), back then I convinced myself no. However that fear of missing out pushed me to go outside my comfort soon and go, because what would I miss if I didn’t?

So that’s great, I’m not missing out on going abroad. But now….when I go to Sweden, what will I miss out on at home!?? FOMO is inescapable it seems. I’ll miss out on family events, seeing my dog do cute things and even social gatherings with friends. I’m worried to miss out on all those good things, the comforts of home. But I’m also worried about missing the bad things; break ups between friends, someone close to me possibly getting injured or even someone close to me potentially passing away. I know I can’t come home easily if something bad happens, and I don’t know how I would handle it. But I have told myself if I want to have this experience, it is something I have to deal with. I have to prepare myself and realize that everything will work out eventually; all I have to do is have faith. 

So yes FOMO is everywhere, I know everyone has experienced it to some degree so it makes me feel better about myself. But isn’t it human nature for us to want to experience all we can experience? We want to seek out those potential opportunities because it can lead us to amazing things. We apply to go away for university to learn new things, to meet new friends and to find ourselves so that we can become the person we are. If we missed out on that experience, would we have met our husbands, wives or life-long best friends? Would we have learned from our mistakes, worked hard to achieve our goals, or have gotten that amazing career? Missing out on opportunities that are right in front of you could mean you’re missing out on what your future can offer you. So yes FOMO can be irritating, but I think it shapes us to become the person we are. I would rather have FOMO than miss out on things, because it could mean you’re missing out on life, and I want to experience everything life has to offer. So thank you, FOMO, for always being there. You are the only anxiety I never want to go away.

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YOLO (You Only Live Once)

I’m sure you’ve heard of the term YOLO, meaning “you only live once” and it’s a phrase that’s become of particular interest to me. It’s true we only live once, and its good to make the most out of life but when we live do we really live? Are we doing all we could be doing? Seeing what we want to see, being who we want to be? That’s what I wondered about myself.  We of course can’t live adventure every minute of the day, but life should have some sense of adventure every once in awhile. It sometimes can come unexpectedly or something you create for yourself. I always waited for something to happen to me. I’m not sure what that something was, anything I suppose. Something that would be exciting, fun, memorable all at once and a good story to tell at Christmas dinner, but sadly I still have no stories to tell.  I was always waiting for life to give me something, but I have to give myself to life, and take what it offers. I think studying abroad is a good start to this. It’ll give me adventure and great stories to tell family and friends. It’s opening my eyes to new surroundings and gaining new insight. It’s everything I ever wanted to do.

 But can I do it? Am I brave enough? I had decided a few years ago that I wasn’t “able” to do that sort of thing. In my first year of university I was ill with mononucleosis which led to me developing depression and anxiety. I was not able to cope on my own, and I ended up having to move home and take a year off from work and school.  I was very fragile which led to my family having to look after me, and I could not shake my anxious thoughts. I used to be care free and ready for anything, but at that time I was paranoid, scared about everything and was homesick when I was away for a weekend. So my dreams of traveling and studying abroad didn’t seem to be in my future. I soon overcame my anxiety and depression but I still kept putting myself down, and convincing myself I could never go abroad.  However, deep down I really wished I could go and find adventure on my own. 

 Last Christmas I found the study abroad page on my schools website and I looked at all the list of schools around the world where students could study.  When I was reading about the program I felt a pain in my stomach, wishing I was brave enough to do it. My boyfriend Shane noticed I was looking at the site and said, “Why can’t you do it?”  I told him all my excuses but he of course wouldn’t buy it. He told me I was very capable of going abroad, and if I truly wanted to go, I should. He believed in me, and with that support I thought it could be a reality for me. When school started in January I went to the international activities office and spoke with the advisor. After deciding to go, a lot changed for me. I decided from then on I would live life to the fullest and do the things I wanted. Right now what I want is to go to Sweden and have a life changing experience. I know everything will not go perfectly but all I can do is at least try and enjoy every moment. I just want to go with the flow, and just take it day by day.

Having the confidence to study abroad wouldn’t be possible without the support of my family and friends.  They believe I can do this, so I should I should believe in myself, and I do. I still have a few months to go with a lot of things to do and many things I want to accomplish and I’m just excited for what’s ahead.

 

Things I want to accomplish  (YOLO)

1. Go to Sweden!

2. Pack light (learn how to vacuum seal my clothes)

3. Find adventure for myself

4. Get over my fear of flying (no hyperventilating and scaring the passengers beside me)

5. Meet People from all over the world (convince people that Canadians don’t say eh all the time and live in igloos)

6. Relax (stop stressing that people will steal my food from the fridge)

7. Get Lost (and not freak out)

8. Go to the ABBA Museum

9. Take a chance…..on me? (refer to # 8)

10. Go on a roller coaster (I think I can hyperventilate for this one)

11. See the Norway fjords (thanks Roald Dahl)

12. Go on a Baltic cruise (try and convince dad)

13. Learn Swedish (not by watching the Swedish chef on the Muppets)

14. Go To Poland (eat perogies!)

15. Go to Holland (Amsterdam!)

16. Go to Britain (to find Harry Potter)

17. Go to Ireland (kiss the blarney stone)

18. Learn to cook (LOL)

19. Try not to gain weight (treadmill time)

20. Eat yummy/different food (probably will not help accomplish # 19)

21.  Gain independence

22. Not be afraid

23. Live life to the fullest from here on 

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Holding Out For Sweden

So far everything seems to be falling into place. I started my third coop work term at Saint Mary’s  and am now anxiously awaiting to hear from JIBS (Jonkoping International Business School) in regards to my application. My advisor for international activities has sent them my nomination and they apparently have accepted me, however I still need to officially apply for school and my residence permit.  I found a great website that explains the application process: (http://www.swedenabroad.com/en-GB/Embassies/Ottawa/Study-in-Sweden/Residence-Permits-for-Students/).

To be able to study abroad I had to apply to the exchange program at my university and get accepted before applying to JIBS. The exchange program at SMU is open to students who are  registered as a full time/part time SMU student, is from any academic discipline, has declared their major (or are in the process of declaring a major) and possess a GPA of 2.5 or higher.  A lower GPA may be accepted if the candidate has demonstrated leadership, participation in extra curricular activities, has an interest in global issues and has set clear personal and career goals. The candidate must be able to receive transfer credit towards your degree, have completed 30 credit hours at SMU before leaving for exchange. Students are not allowed to go on exchange in their home country except in certain circumstances, and some of the partner institutions may also have additional academic requirements. These are the policies for Saint Mary’s so other schools may have different or additional requirements (http://www.smu.ca/administration/international/s_exchange.html).

The application process to study abroad was as follows. I had to fill out the application form and choose three school options and research the classes they offer . After choosing the school and deciding what courses I wanted to take, I had to fill out a letter of permission to ensure the courses could be transferred to SMU. Once the courses were approved, I added them to my application along with two reference letters. One letter had to be from a professor and the other had to be from a job supervisor.  The last piece of information the international activities wanted was an updated resume and a cover letter addressing specific questions.

Once I acquired all of the documents, I put them in one large envelope and placed it in the bin amongst the other hopeful applicants.  In a couple weeks I was accepted and the application process to JIBS began!

I’m hoping everything will work out so I can go to Jonkoping because I have always wanted to travel to Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. I always thought their scenery was so beautiful and culture and government so interesting and different.  Being able to live there and experience it would be amazing and a dream come true!  So no surprise, when I was researching the various schools the SMU abroad program is affiliated with, I instantly was drawn to Sweden and the town of Jonkoping.

Jonkoping is located on the southern end of Sweden’s second largest lake, Vattern. It is Sweden’s 10th largest municipality and has about 122,000 inhabitants. It is apparently referred to as the Jerusalem of Sweden due to the towns many churches. (Jonkoping Travel Guide – Wikitravel, 2012).

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JIBS is recognized as the most international business school in Sweden and is one of the most international business schools in the world. Around 30% of both the employees and students come from outside of Sweden.
The first JIBS students were enrolled in 1994 and in the last twenty years, JIBS has grown to a comprehensive institution offering Bachelor, Master and Doctoral education. It has become world renowned in many research areas. It has its own board of directors and is owned by the Jonkoping University Foundation (http://hj.se/jibs/en.html)

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I’m really hoping that everything works out and that I can go abroad in January because it would be perfect timing.  My family can visit in the spring and then I can graduate from university in October. I hope being away will help me gain a new perspective on the world, and allow me to feel comfortable travelling to other countries. I also want this experience to  bring me out of my shell and help me to not be so worried all the time. I’ve wasted so much time worrying about things.  I realize know worrying about things gets you no where. You can’t control what happens in life, you have to just live it to the fullest and go with the flow. If things happen, you get through it one way or another.  I don’t want to let life past me by and  have nothing to show for it.  The world has so many things to see and experience, and I want to see as much as I can before it’s too late.

Of course it feels nerve wracking to go on this adventure alone, but at the same time it’s exciting! I have known other people who studied or worked abroad and they all had good experiences, so what’s there to be worried about? When my sister went to Paris as an au-pair for a year, I was thrilled and envious that she got to have that experience. Back then I thought I could never something like that, but then I said “if Ally can do it, so can I!” We are from the same gene pool after all! (However, I will be doing more studying than diaper changing…though I’m not sure which one is worse!).

Until next time…

Introducing Me

For days I was trying to think of the best way to introduce myself and write what my blog will be about, but it I found it hard to sum up my intentions in a single paragraph.  How can I describe me?  What is it I want to share?

I guess I could start by saying I’m a girl named Megan from Halifax Nova Scotia who for some time was stuck.  Stuck in a world of fear and “what ifs”, and afraid to live the life I wanted. Everything about life can be trying sometimes, which left me feeling like I could not achieve my dreams.  I was afraid to be on my own, doubting my abilities and always thinking of the worse cast scenario (basically a glass half empty frame of mind).  I had felt this way for a long time, but one day I just snapped out of it.  I realized that I wanted adventure; I wanted to experience the world and what it has to offer. So I started thinking about what I wanted, and what I wanted was to travel. I always wanted to travel and live, work and study in another place, and experience a new way of life and culture. I have always been a visual person. I love seeing things, especially beautiful things because it always changed my perspective and made me realize that not everything in the world is bad or scary.  I came across a quote one day that helped me overcome my fear and it said: “I would rather live a life of “oh wells” instead of “what ifs”. That quote helped me forget about my insecurities and walk to the international activities office at Saint Mary’s University and ask about studying abroad.  

After a few months of applications and reference letters, I got accepted into the program, and chose the Jonkoping International Business School in Sweden to be my place of study. I finally felt good about where my life was headed, and sure there could be bumps along the way but I was just happy to be along for the ride, no matter what the outcome. Sure I could be sheltered and live at home for the rest of my life and have people make decisions for me, but where does that get me?

When it comes down to your life, I realize it’s up to you to live it; it’s me alone and no one else, it’s mono-meg who has to live her life.  And since I am living my life, I thought I should make the most of this period of my life, and keep a blog to document every adventure to Sweden and wherever else I end up in this coming year. So thank you for reading and enjoy the mono-meg experience.