BRAVE

My study abroad experience is now becoming (an official) reality! I booked my plane ticket on the weekend and also applied for my work permit!!! I have been planning and applying for this since January of this year and I can’t believe how fast the year has gone. Now that everything is done my nerves are acting up! My family has had to deal with my excitement and nervousness for the past few months (sorry guys) and I know it must be getting tiring. I almost feel like Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice- “Have you any consideration for my poor nerves!!”My family is definitely Mr. Bennet in this scenario as they would reply (as he did) “You mistake me, my dear. I have the utmost respect for your nerves. They’ve been my constant companion these twenty years” (or in my case the past 23 years!).

So with the excitement comes nervousness and fear. Fear of the unknown, and fearing the mono experience that I have been building up the courage to face. Will I be lonely? Can I be independent? Will I be homesick? Will I make friends? Will I overall like this? I have asked all these questions to myself on a day to day basis ever since I applied. But with these questions, I have tried to suppress and doubt I have in myself and take a leap of faith and be BRAVE. I tell myself “I can do anything!” I need to be confident and go to Sweden without any specific expectations and take it a day at a time and thrive in every moment, whether it’s amazing or challenging. I am ready for whatever comes my way!
So whether it be travelling abroad, applying for a job, going to school or simply going to the dentist there are always challenges that you can face in any situation. But it’s better to take a leap of faith and just do it even if you have the slightest bit of doubt in yourself and the outcome. You will gain a new perspective and a sense of self-worth and independence when you step out of your comfort zone. Just get out there, know what you want, say what you want, and tell yourself to be BRAVE! Take it from Sara Bareilles, she knows what she’s talking about!

If Studying Abroad Was An Easy Thing To Do…

Image

 

http://www.edudemic.com/studying-abroad-reasons/

Okay, not going to lie…the past few weeks have been stressful. I have been on a roller coaster ride trying to get all of my paperwork and applications done, but it seems there is always an obstacle or a very long wait. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. If studying abroad was an easy thing to do, more people would do it, so it goes to show how long and difficult the process can be. I don’t mind the applications and such, but it is the waiting and the unknown that is frustrating/nerve wracking. I will not know my class schedule or where I will be living until I get there…and I am the type of person who likes to plan ahead and have everything ready to go, so this is not easy for me. But I know I can’t have everything go my way all of the time.

I am stressed about my residence permit because it takes about three months to process (and obviously I leave in less than three months). I am still waiting for my passport, bank statements, proof of health coverage etc., so I haven’t even sent in my application yet!!

Also, I am trying to book a flight to Jonkoping for the first week of January but no luck (which is weird). There are no flights to Jonkoping that week apparently…but that doesn’t make sense. So this is frustrating as well.

Image

 

http://www.passenlaw.com/practice-areas/airplane-crash-lawyers

Okay (Insert deep breath here) when I start getting worked up about this stuff, I have press pause for a minute and think it through.

Image

 

http://advisoranalyst.com/glablog/2013/09/24/a-much-needed-pause.html

 Lately when I am in the midst of a stressful freak out I start to think about what it is I’m stressed about. Why is this so stressful? And when I ask myself this I am more so meaning, what is there to be stressed about? The answer is NOTHING! This process is time consuming and frustrating yes, but the outcome is positive! I am planning to go abroad, in Europe for six months; I should be on top of the world! It’s not an opportunity everyone gets to have. I should be positive and excited instead of irritated and stressed.

When I feel stressed, I list reasons as to why I should not be stressed, and it usually looks something like this:

Why I shouldn’t be stressed:

  1. I have an amazing opportunity to study abroad in Sweden for six months, and it is not something everyone gets to do.
  2. JIBS (Jonkoping International Business School) looks like an amazing school, and I know it will be an amazing experience.
  3. I get to travel (which is my passion)

Image

 

http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fadventuretime.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FFile%3ATravel_around_the_world.jpg&h=0&w=0&sz=1&tbnid=tJd17LH1iVz40M&tbnh=183&tbnw=275&zoom=1&docid=pgp8I3XmHDSy-M&ei=-iplUqTVFo6g4AO2yYCQCg&ved=0CAcQsC

4. My family and friends are very supportive and are here for me through every step of the process

5. My exchange advisor is very helpful and supportive and has answered all of my questions and addressed my concerns promptly.

6. All of the people I have dealt with (in terms of applications and documents) have been very nice and helpful.

 And finally…

7. Whatever will be will be. It this is meant to happen it’ll happen. Everything thing will work out somehow.

Image

 

Number 7 is very important. I have to remember the quote “Man Plans and God Laughs”, because not everything is under my control. I have to remind myself to go with the flow, and if I don’t go abroad it’s not because I didn’t try, it’s because it wasn’t meant to be, and I have to accept that if that’s the case. I can think of the next exciting thing to do, and go with that. I’ll always have something to blog about if I seize opportunities.

Life can be stressful, and there are definitely way more stressful things than studying abroad. Even if it’s a big or small problem, stress can always appear.  In the end it’s our attitude that determines whether we stay stressed or let go and move forward. Gee…I need to listen to my own advice 😉

Thankful

Image

 Happy Thanksgiving! I know, how cliché. I am going to do the typical post everyone does on thanksgiving to say what I am thankful for…but even though it might be lame and cheesy I think I have a lot to be thankful for so I refuse to ignore my thankful thoughts and share them to you!

 What I Am Thankful For (The Big Ones):

 1. Family. They are there for you through the best of times and the worst of times. You can’t choose who your family is and where you come from, but if you did what fun is that? They are similar and different from me in many ways but even in times of disagreement and chaos we always compliment each other well and each contribute something special to our family dynamic. My family knows me better than anyone and always listens to my “bright ideas” (no matter how crazy), laugh at me when I talk in my sleep (“shiny beads” was uttered one night…I’m just as confused as they are about that one) enjoy my impressions (especially Jamie Oliver – “You got to get your head in the 30 minute meal way!”) and lastly they love me unconditionally. What more could you want? I didn’t get to choose my family, but they suit me in every way. Love you all!

Image 

2. Boyfriend. I’m not trying to be sappy and lovey dovey but I had to mention my boyfriend Shane (I’ll try and keep it short J). Shane has been there for me through absolutely everything. My worst times and my best times, and I feel I owe him forever for being there during those difficult times. He is my best friend and my family and I couldn’t imagine where I’d be without him. Thanks for everything<3

 

3. Friends. Friends are a great comfort to have in life. Always there for a laugh or a shoulder to cry on, and always have great advice for any situation. Some can take bad experiences and make them into the funniest story you’ve ever heard (clown mask). Some are so silly sometimes; they can lighten even the foulest mood (photobooth anyone?). Others are nurturing and always look out for ya (my other mommy). Some can be so random that every conversation and text is the funniest thing on earth (what do you mean by pjamas?). And some can be far away distance wise and still seem like they are close in every way (New Zealand? It’s just down the road!)

So thank you to friends because where would we be without them?

4. My weiner dog Winnie (AKA: DB= doggie baby, Baby, Snooks Pothier, Brat, Cutie, sookie). My dog is my everything…silly I know but she got me through tough times and still helps me feel less stressed everyday. She loves me no matter what and always knows what to do when I’m feeling low or very upbeat! I love when she does double hops because she’s so excited, plays with her stuffed bunny softly, chews bits of Kleenex and leaves them in my bed, thinks my sister Amy lives at the airport and when she flips onto her back when Dad attempts to take her out for P&P (you can guess what that is). Her personality is so sweet and loving that everyone falls in love with her the moment they meet her (just gotta let the barking finish first!).  So I am thankful for her, and I couldn’t wish for a better doggie.

 Image

5. Food and Shelter. I am very thankful to be able to have a place I call home where my family and friends can spend time and eat meals together.  I never take that for granted.

6. My Health. In my life I have had some health scares. I was hospitalized when I was six years old for respiratory problems and had a horrible encounter with mononucleosis (which we thought was something worse as I wasn’t getting better). But with every health scare there came recovery, which I am so thankful for. Being healthy is the most fortunate gift you can receive in life, and I am glad to have overcome my health problems. I never take my health for granted…ever.

 7. Opportunities. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities I have gotten throughout my life. I have been involved in amazing activities, gotten great jobs, had an amazing education, gotten to travel to many countries and now I am getting to study abroad for six months. It doesn’t get much better than this. Part of this was me accepting these opportunities as they came up, and I encourage everyone to take and chance and seize the opportunity – you’ll be happy you did.

Image

 

What I am thankful for (the little things that have a big impact):

 8. Television. I know silly, but I love TV. I can’t deny it (I am just like my Dad – I come by it honestly). TV makes the impossible a reality, and sure people say it’s just TV but I find it’s nice to escape reality for awhile and get immersed in another world whether it be hanging with nerds in the Big Bang Theory or watching vampire love triangles in The Vampire Diaries. It gets me away from my troubles even if it’s only for an hour. So thank you to TV (no matter how silly that is).

ImageImage

 9. Nature. I love being outside in the wilderness (though I could never survive in it if I had to permanently) but I love fresh air, hiking and scenic surroundings.

Image

 

10. Music. My “jams” get me through the day. It can turn my bad mood into happiness instantly. Even if you are sad and want to hate the world, turn on an upbeat cheery song, it does wonders. In the words of ABBA “thank you for the music…who thought that nothing could capture a heart like a melody can…well whoever it was I’m a fan”.

 11. Cell phones. I know what you must be thinking…I need to sort out my priorities, but cell phones have been so important in my life! They connect us to everything I just mentioned on this list. I can talk to my family, friends and boyfriend on my phone wherever they are in the world. I can see my dog on face time or Skype and look at picture of her that I took with my phone. When I’m sick I can look up information instantly on my phone about treatment methods, or call my doctor to book an appointment. I use my phone to seize opportunities and call my piano teacher to set up a music lesson, get a call from an employer for a job interview, or book a plane ticket to Europe! I can watch TV instantly on my phone with various apps that are available. I can look up picture of nature and set them as my screen savor, or take photos on my phone when I’m walking on a trail. I download music onto my phone or watch a music video on YouTube! Phones connect us to many things, and I am very thankful to have this technology.

 There it is, my list of things I am thankful for. My apologies if it is long, but that is only the start of things I am thankful for. I take whatever life has to offer me whether it’s good or bad. I’m alive, and I’m well. We all are one person living each day, so it should be lived to the fullest.  If you have never thought about things you are thankful for, you should start a list now, you will be thankful that you did.

Image

 

http://365barrington.com/2012/11/02/271-what-are-you-thankful-for-2012-thanksgiving-contest/

Accepted!

Image

 

http://hj.se/jibs/en/education/summer-programme.html

It’s official! I have been accepted to Jonkoping International Business School!! I got my acceptance letter from JIBS on Friday! I still however have a lot to do to get ready for my departure. I applied for accommodation on Thursday (they set specific dates for when you can do this). I had to select my three dorm options that I preferred, and fill out whether I wanted a shared room (I checked no, I’d like to have my own room!). I also had to list my priorities in terms of location, noise etc. I said I preferred to be closer to campus first, and said I didn’t mind noise (the residence I want is above a club so if I said I didn’t like noise I probably would not get that one!). All that is left for JIBS is to let them know the date I will be arriving so they can pick me up at the airport.

Phew! I’m glad that is done, but now I have to apply for my residence permit. Here is the link for the requirements to study in Sweden:

http://www.swedenabroad.com/en-GB/Embassies/Ottawa/Study-in-Sweden/Residence-Permits-for-Students/

http://www.migrationsverket.se/info/153_en.html#h-Requirementsforobtainingaresidencepermit

If I want to study in Sweden for more than three months I have to have a residence permit granted before I enter Sweden. My passport must also be valid for at least three months after the intended departure date from the EU.

To apply for a residence permit you need to:

–        Complete the application form

–        Have a valid passport

–        Have the acceptance letter from the institution where you will be studying (list your program and dates of study)

–        Have proof of sufficient funds for the entire study period (approx. $1100 a month). You have to get a statement from your bank.

–        Have proof of medical insurance. JIBS has medical insurance for when I’m in Sweden but if I wish to travel to other countries I need to get that through my home health benefits.

This application can take up to three months to process so I’m not sure how it will work out in time, but I am just going with the flow for now and hopefully everything will work out! Wish me luck!

Image

http://the-proffesional.deviantart.com/art/Sweden-flag-grunge-wallpaper-156591182

 

Whirlwind

Image

 

(http://ascendingstarseed.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/quantum-vortex-training-meg-benedicte/)

OK, (insert deep breath here), I’ve had a whirlwind of a month.

A few weeks ago my study abroad advisor emailed me and told me JIBS (Jonkoping International Business School) had sent me my user name and password so I could login to their system and apply. I have already been somewhat accepted into JIBS at this point but I need to make it official and give them all of my information so I can receive an acceptance letter.

That was amazing news, and I was so excited to get home that Friday and officially apply. I logged on and everything was going well until I went to choose my courses. Before I could choose courses I had to get them approved by SMU earlier in the year. I had seen the course catalogue and knew what the school offered for spring semester of 2014 and everything seemed ok. What I did not know was that many classes were cancelled! When I noticed this I was very upset, however it is not the schools fault. I had decided to study abroad with only four courses left to my degree and they are particular courses that I need to complete (so not very smart timing on my part!!)

I talked to my advisor immediately and we tried to think of other options. She got me to look at other possible schools and see what classes they offered, but the schools did not offer classes I needed. She emailed JIBS and asked them about possible options for me which I patiently waited for. However I knew that my dreams of studying abroad were slim to none.

I told my family and friends of this misfortune, and everyone was disappointed, and asked, “Is there any way you can go??” I told them probably not. 

Image

 

(http://mathieujang.com/what-do-you-do-when-your-dream-dies/)

I felt crushed, defeated and hopeless. My dream; all that I worked for, all I had hoped for was all of a sudden gone, just like that. I felt so sad and stressed, and I was taking my frustrations out on others, which was horrible.

After a few days of knowing this and feeling rotten, I called my boyfriend Shane one night and asked if he would come over and keep me distracted. However instead of keeping me distracted, he tried to find a solution to my problem. I kept saying “I CAN’T! OK!?”, in a frustrated tone of voice, but Shane wouldn’t buy it. He said “There is always options” and told me to login to the site and look at the courses that were offered. He thought maybe SMU could make an exception and approve other courses.  I still thought that even if they were approved, they might be too hard because I am not knowledgeable on the subject matter as I am not technically studying business (all I need to graduate is three business electives as part of my Arts degree, and some were more artsy than others). We looked through them together and Shane helped me pick out courses that I could possibly do.  He suggested topics he had studied in university as a business student that he knew I would like.

I felt hopeful that maybe SMU could make an exception and approve the courses, but I thought it was a long shot.  I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Shane had built up my confidence, so I persevered and filled out the letter of permission form and met with my academic advisor the next day.

I waited (for what seemed like weeks) for two days to hear back from my academic advisor, and I was so apprehensive when they called me into his office. They handed me my letter of permission, and when I looked on the right hand column next to the courses I had neatly printed out, there was a red checkmark of approval by each one and it was signed!!!!!!!! Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m YOURS Sweden!!!

Image(http://www.salemhillsrv.com/rv-photos/)

I am so happy everything worked out. I did not know how I would tell everyone that I wouldn’t be studying abroad, but now I won’t have to (hopefully…fingers crossed for no more obstacles).

It goes to show how important it is to persevere and not give up! I had given up on my dream, but all it took was a little help from family and a great boyfriend! There are always other options! If something doesn’t work out, plan for the next thing, or try and find a solution. It may seem like it’s not worth the hassle, but it is! Always try to make yours dreams a reality, if you don’t, you’ll wonder why you didn’t and think of “what could have been” a few years down the road.

Image    Image

 

(http://diabeticallyspeaking.com/2010/10/21/never-give-up/)

(http://liveyourtruelife.org/do-you-want-to-make-your-dreams-a-reality/)

 

The Joy and No Joy of Fear

ImageIt’s October, my favorite month! Why you ask? Because October means its Halloween Season!

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s weird, scary, interesting and has lots of fun activities and the best treats! Who wouldn’t love it?

Image

Many don’t care for it, and the reasons vary I suppose. They don’t like horror movies or the tricksters that roam the streets or the candy that rots your teeth;  but probably a big reason is because Halloween is associated with fear. 

Now I’ve never been afraid of Halloween, but I’ve definitely had my fair share of fear in my life. But this fear is the kind that is pointless, and never gets you anywhere.  I used to be paranoid and scared about everything. I can give some examples…

I saw a movie about a tsunami once and I was scared to go near water.  If my mother or father was a little bit late coming home from work I assumed they were in a car accident. I didn’t eat small hard things when I was home alone in case I choked and no one could save me. If a bug flew near me I would run away screaming. I was terrified to even think about going on a plane (I’m still a little worried but not as bad as I used to be). I never would watch horror movies because I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I told myself I would never live abroad because I would be trafficked like in the movie ‘Taken’ but my dad would not be Liam Neeson so I wouldn’t be rescued (no offense dad, you’re great, you can try!). You name it I was afraid of it.

Image

Image

 

How did I get over these senseless fears you ask? Honestly… mostly time and therapy. But it really came down to me changing my perspective. I just got to the point where I was tired of being scared all the time. It’s exhausting and what does it solve? It just makes you miserable and you never get to live life to the fullest!

Sure I still think about those things and how they “could” happen, but I mostly put them on the back burner. Now when I see water and think about tsunami’s I think if it’s meant to happen it’ll happen.  When my time is up, it’s up. When my parents are a little late I reassure myself that they’re fine or give them a call. I eat small candy whenever I want to! I sit outside and if I bug flies by me I cringe a little but move on (no screaming). I got anxiety medication for the plane (LOL) and researched heavily about plane mechanics and turbulence so I would feel more at ease and know everything is safe. I watch horror movies knowing they are not real! I talked myself into going abroad and I’ll just be careful of creepy people.

There is always a solution! But the best way to soothe fears is research! You can do this by either researching on the internet, looking within yourself, or just by talking to a family member. It gives you reassurance, which is key! You have to think what are the chance of that stuff happening? Think everything over, clear your head and get over it. It’s not worth the worry, trust me!

Fear shouldn’t always be seen as bad. It’s what you do with it that makes an impact. You can turn it into something good! Even if you still worry about things or fear something, you should still try and conquer it!! If you try and conquer your fears it is the greatest sense of accomplishment. I was terrified to go abroad, but I am facing all those fears head on because if you never try you’ll never know!

Yes there is no joy in fear. It makes us stressed and unhappy so we escape it as much as possible. However if we face our fears and overcome them, it leads to happiness and a sense of self-worth and confidence. So in a way, fear can be joyous. It’s all about how we look at it, and what we choose to do with it. 

Image