Keeping an eye out for the Little Things

A lot has happened in the past month. A helluva lot. There’s been an awful lot of DramaTM in my household to say the least, from hospital visits to discovering we had neglected to top up the dishwasher salt for over 3 months (how we were to know that was what the flashing red light meant? And okay, so that wasn’t so dramatic, but my mum was suitably horrified).

For me however, the biggest news has been having my Study Abroad location confirmed. No longer shall my bio for this blog read ‘studying BA History with a Year Abroad (at an as of yet undetermined location)’, because I’m going to Ottawa, (that’s the capital of Canada), ladies and gents. This time next year I’ll no doubt be bundled up from head to toe in layers against -20 degrees battling through the snow and ice to get to my classes, and ice-skating on the Rideau Canal on my weekends.

And I absolutely can’t wait.

I’ve been to British Columbia a couple of times to visit relatives, and so know I already love Canada, the landscape, the people, the Tim-bits (miniature donuts which are practically a national dish). But to know I’m going to be spending an entire year in a place none of my family or close friends has ever visited before is just the most exhilarating feeling. I am terrified and thrilled and nervous and impossibly excited all wrapped up in one- and it’s still 6 months away. There’s so much to plan (accommodation, visas, health insurance, flights- just listing them is making my head ache) and so much more to decide on what I’d like to do while I’m out there (make a weekend trip to New York? I think so.)

I will miss Exeter though, that much I already know. I’ll miss the practical compactness of the city and the fact it’s mild enough now that the daffodils and snowdrops are already all over campus. I’ll miss my friends too, but fortunately most are doing Industrial Placements for third year, so we’ll all be back together again for final year. A year away though I think will do me the world of good. This past term I have definitely felt myself slowing up a bit motivation-wise, and although I will be obviously working towards my degree, I hope I’ll be having a lot of fun too. Seeing as I didn’t take a gap year, this will be the first big chance to do the ‘independent travel thing’ as such.

With so much of my mind focused on the future however, I’m a little worried I’ll wish away second year. I have always been the type to look forward to things; ‘this next summer holiday will be the best ever’, ‘I can’t wait to see family at Christmas’, ‘when I get to Exeter I will have made it’- and while I know there’s nothing wrong with that, I do think sometimes I’m not appreciating the here and now enough. Because second year has been on the whole very kind to me, and I know that when I graduate this will be the part of university life I miss the most, the day to day stuff I mostly take for granted. The little things that keep me smiling through the deadlines and drama.

I couldn’t sleep the other night thinking this all over, so I ended up scribbling some of these little things down on my notepad. I know they might not mean much to anyone reading this, but this blog has become somewhat of a diary for me, and it might hopefully remind you too to remember the highlights of the mundane and ordinary.

The Little Things

  • The walk home from campus after my 5:30 lecture, rounding the corner to cross the bridge over St James’ Park platform and looking back up along the rail tracks to see the sunset.
  • Fernanda, my Brazilian basketball teammate on the university women’s team, who is always making loud jokes and constantly laughing, even at 7am training on a Tuesday morning.
  • The fact that every week when I get up for my 8:30 lecture it’s that little bit lighter outside, as the long dark days of Winter slowly ebb into Spring.
  • The days when I Skype my good friend Ellie in Colorado (who I met when she was on exchange at Exeter), and no matter how glum or down I might be feeling, her smile always cheers me by a country mile.
  • Piling into one bed with my housemates on a sunny Saturday morning, slightly hungover, to try and piece together what happened the night before.
  • The satisfaction of walking past all the prospective students looking around on Open Days and thinking ‘I remember being where you were, imagining myself here- and here I am.’
  • Laughing while collectively brushing our teeth in the corridor with my housemates before bed.
  • When I’m dreading doing the reading for a seminar, but it actually turns out to be so interesting I spend an extra hour doing background research on Wikipedia and Youtube, and I’m reminded that I chose the right degree.
  • Bumping into familiar faces on campus from my course or who I know through societies and getting a quick, unexpected hug in between lectures.
  • The fact that after a couple of tricky, tearful days I came home to find not one, but two huge bags of chocolate M&Ms bought for me by my housemates, who’d both unwittingly had the same idea to try and cheer me up.
  • Someone else giving in before me at the state of our kitchen and attacking the washing up.
  • When I’m just beginning to drift off to sleep and I can hear my housemates trying to laugh quietly in the room next door.
  • Getting really into writing an essay because, actually, I’m pretty passionate about the line of argument I’m going for.
  • When I happen to have an umbrella in my bag when a sunny day abruptly turns into a downpour.
  • Car trips back from National League basketball games, when we stop off for chips and our coach sings along to 70s disco tracks all the way down the M4.
  • Catching up with my parents on Skype on Saturday mornings, and when they take the iPad down to the dog so she can ignore me entirely.
  • Days when we all give in and order take-out, eating it sitting on my bed until my room stinks of pizza, and listening to whatever song of the week I’ve decided to play on repeat.
  • Going for a run just as the sun is starting to set and watching the clouds turn pink and gold as I’m coming back up the hill from Morrisons’.

This might seem a little cheesy, but even if these parts of university life maybe aren’t the most exciting or noteworthy, they are the parts I know I will miss the most. They’re what remind me that for all the down days and days where I question myself, I know I should remember that I’m lucky that I am here, with the people I am with.