People More Than Anything

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“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.”

― Jamie Tworkowski


I’ve been missing my people back home a lot lately. (All the time, but especially lately.) The holidays are definitely the toughest time to be away from home long-term. I’m so grateful to have such an amazing group of friends back home. They are my favorite thing about my life, this group of kind and hilarious people who somehow (thank god) all found each other in weird Hampton Roads. Our friend-family is a constant source of stability, reassurance, and laughter. We go on vacation together every summer (okay actually we go on like 5 vacations every summer. Vacationing is what we do best), we go on road trips, we have Friendsgiving. We go to each other’s graduations and birthday dinners and one day  we will go to each other’s weddings and we will all promise to have open bars (we haven’t discussed this, but I just decided)  and it will be beautiful. Sometimes we fight like siblings and call each other out and get annoyed and frustrated and bitchy. We all know each other so well. We’ve been growing up together and we all have no fucking idea what we’re doing and we’re confused and scared and broke but we always help each other find the humor, and that, I think, is the most important thing we can do. I miss these people more than anything. Thanks for making my life so bright. You know who you are.

Wandering: 11/13

So much happens in the span of 7 days. We have so much information zooming towards us from all angles, at all hours, it can be difficult to find the time or head space to reflect on what we’ve just done, or even what we’re currently doing. But in this crazy age of Instagram, I find myself taking tons of photos every week that can document how I spend my days; what I do, what I notice, where I wander. I’m hoping, while also giving a little window into my life abroad, Wonder & Wander will help me appreciate the past week in lieu of just hurdling into the next one. Because as we know, “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”


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It’s November’s world, and we’re just livin’ in it.

Here’s a quote I love that actually has nothing to do with November:

I gave myself permission to care, because there are a lot of people in this world who are afraid of caring, who are afraid of showing they care because it’s uncool. It’s uncool to have passion. It’s so much easier to lose when you’ve shown everyone how much you don’t care if you win or lose. It’s much harder to lose when you show that you care, but you’ll never win unless you also stand to lose. I’ve said it before. Don’t be afraid of your passion, give it free reign, and be honest and work hard and it will all turn out just fine.
– Tom Hiddleston
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Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please came out last week and I bought it immediately, despite its lukewarm reviews. I love Amy Poehler. She is a hilarious human and I personally think her book is wonderful and anyone who likes her and wants a good laugh should read it. “I tried to tell the truth and be funny,” Poehler writes in the intro, “What else do you want from me, you filthy animals?” I love memoirs because I love learning about other people’s lives. I want to know everything about everyone, especially the tough stuff. If you ever just want to tell your life story to someone, I’m your girl. (But please don’t ask me for advice because I have no fucking idea what I’m doing either.)

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This is a Dutch Oliebol. That literally translates to “Oil ball.”

Yesterday, my host dad came home with a bag full of them, some with raisins and some without. They’re basically like giant doughnut holes without the glaze, and come with powdered sugar packets that you can sprinkle on. They were delicious and oily, as they were supposed to be, I think. I think their name is simultaneously hilarious and appalling, but at least its realistic! I think if we named everything in America what it really is… we would stay away from a lot of foods and maybe not be so obese. Let’s start by re-naming corn dogs “deep fried cornmeal mystery meat bits.” You’ll never think of a corn dog the same way again. You’re welcome!

Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 11.59.43 AMI’ve been spending a looooot of time inside this week watching a sick lil 8 year old, so when I had a free evening on Wednesday, I decided to take an hour-long walk to the city center. Walking is my very favorite thing to do, I think, and it all started during my time in Aix en Provence, France- where it was a 40 minute walk just to get to the city center. I like not having to rely on anything but myself, not really having to abide by traffic laws (I’ll walk down this one-way street in whatever direction I please!), and being able to go at my own pace (which is actually extremely fast, much to the annoyance of my slow-walking friends. But sorry, leave the weak behind, am I right?) Walking feels very freeing to me, and it’s a bonus that it’s such good exercise and is actually a much overlooked mode of transportation. Plus, when you’re crossing a bridge and see a magnificent sunset like this one, you can stop right then and there and take a picture instead of fumbling with a phone and a steering wheel and getting a terribly blurry picture, or even worse- missing the sunset entirely. Walking rules.


 

As I once again attempt to get my shit together with this whole blogging endeavor, my next post will be covering my past 2 weekends, highlighting: me attempting to be a tour guide to my friend in a city I’ve lived in for 2 months, Halloween, Museum Night, and a park in Amsterdam that secretly (not really secretly) has kangaroos and alpacas!!!! It’ll have you on the edge of your seat.

And with that, it’s over

I took the FINAL final exam of my college career yesterday. I turned in my final assignment today.

College is over.

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Going into my freshman dorm room for the first time

The business building, where I had to take my final exam, is all the way across campus, roughly a 25 minute walk from my apartment. I usually drove because it was a 7-9:40pm class and I hated walking home alone that late. But yesterday I opted to walk. I wanted to walk through campus as a college student one more time. I wanted to take it all in: the Compass, the Commons, and my freshman dorm, GRC, which looks more like a Motel 8 than anything else. Monroe Park- where I’d taken part in snowball fights and Final Four riots and a vigil. Crossing Belvedere Street, approaching the business building, I felt that awful pre-exam anxiety creep into my chest. But then I realized that, too, would be over soon. At least until grad school or something. (Come on guys, it’s never really over.)

I love my school. I love my city and my apartment and my roommate and my friends and the coffeeshops and Monument Avenue. I’ve grown so much through the past 5 years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 10.17.57 AMI feel weird now because school is all I’ve ever known. Right after I finished my last assignment around midnight last night, I just sat on my bed for a few minutes, thinking there must be something else I’m supposed to do. Something else must be due soon. But there isn’t. I attended the classes, I wrote the papers, I gave the presentations, I even did (most) of the course evaluations throughout the years. I did and did and did and now I’m done.Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 10.18.24 AMI feel a stillness right now that I haven’t felt since I was around 12 years old. As someone who is always extremely busy, it’s a strange feeling. I’m so… free. I’ve put off committing to any kind of future plans (much to the disapproval of probably 98% of the adults in my life) because I want to savor this feeling for a little while. For this moment, I can lay in my bed and what if all day because anything feels possible. What if I moved to Seattle? What if I backpacked Southeast Asia for a few months? What if I au paired in Europe? What if I stayed in Richmond, applied to grad school? These all hold equal weight in my mind right now (except grad school- I’m waiting a while for that.)Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 10.31.49 AMSometimes, the stillness and uncertainty make me feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, I can’t help but think wait, where the fuck am I going to live in 3 months when my lease runs up? I’ve never not had a plan. I’m not used to this.

But as semi-terrifying as that is, I kind of love it right now.

The Purpose Of This Blog

After studying abroad for 10 months, I applied to be an Education Abroad Student Ambassador at my university. This big, fancy title essentially meant that I worked to promote and encourage students to study abroad. I set up tables in the student commons, gave speeches to classes, and attended global education-oriented events. I did it because I believe SO MUCH in the experience of studying abroad, and I want everyone to be able to do it. My ambassador job was really fun, plus there was usually free pizza involved. +++

(Here I am being really enthusiastic at a study abroad storytelling event) :

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Earlier today over our ‘farewell lunch,’ one of the study abroad advisors, Kelly, told me I would make a great travel writer. I told her that is literally my dream and then I told her about my blog, Coffee & Insulin. I told her I started it for many reasons, but a big reason is because at 21 years old, I packed my life into a single suitcase and moved to France (where I knew approximately zero people) to spend the next 10 months riding trains around Europe and stumbling over the French language. And I have type 1 diabetes and of course it didn’t stop me. And I want other young diabetic people (or any people, really) to see/hear that from as many of us as possible.

Kelly proceeded to tell me that just last week a t1d student dropped out at the last minute of a summer study abroad program because of her worries of diabetes management abroad.

That student was so close, it was so soon. I hate that that happened. I don’t want that to happen.

But I don’t blame him/her (or their family) for being scared. Traveling abroad is nerve-wrecking enough with a working pancreas. Traveling with t1d requires extra planning, consideration and definitely some extra luggage space, but god, it really is worth it. It really is possible. I rode a camel for 2 hours to reach a campsite in the middle of the Sahara desert in Morocco. I sipped wine and ate macaroons and baguettes in front of the Eiffel Tower with my best friend (and then I took a lot of insulin and regretted nothing.)

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I  learned the ins and outs of the French healthcare system- went to the doctor and the pharmacy and got the medicine I needed. (And I will be forever haunted by how fucking incredible socialized medicine is. sd8fas087fsauhdf I can’t even talk about it.) It was definitely challenging sometimes, especially at first, but I will never forget the feeling of walking out of the French pharmacy with Humalog in hand, thinking, I navigated a foreign healthcare system in a foreign language. What can’t I do?

I wish I could have spoken with the girl that dropped out of her study abroad program. I would have told her that yes, it is difficult to manage diabetes while traveling. It is also difficult to manage diabetes at home. The internal scale is always tipping wherever we are; the circumstances are ever-changing, and we will always, always be re-evaluating and re-adjusting. Whether we are in Minnesota or Prague or Patagonia, we will have low blood sugars and we will have high ones. And we will treat them, and we will keep going, because that’s just what we do.

‘Not traveling’ was never an option to me, I’m way too stubborn and adventurous. My mom sent me on week-long spring break trip to Germany and Switzerland when I was 16 (I remember hearing about it from my best friend and immediately whipping out my cell phone in homeroom, whispering in the back of the class, begging my mom to let me go. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Mom!!!!!!!” )

Several years later, she told me one reason she fully supported me going on that trip was because she wanted me to learn early on (I’d had diabetes for 2 years) that I could still do things. I could still go out into the world and maybe almost die riding a donkey up the side of a cliff in Santorini, Greece (the key is that I didn’t die) and get lost in a maze of winding alleys and pastel-colored buildings in Portugal and not know exactly how many carbs are in the Italian gelato- and be okay.

One of the reasons I started this blog is to try to use my experience and my voice to show whoever I can trick into reading it that, if you want, you can do these things, too. (Although I really do strongly discourage riding a donkey up the side of a cliff in Santorini, Greece. Oh, you want a picture that encapsulates the moment?) Okay, I’ll break it down for you:

We went from this:

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to this very quickly:

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I would looooooove to talk to more travelers with diabetes. Also, if you are diabetic and happen to be reading this and are considering studying abroad or know someone who is, feel free to email me! I’m not an expert at traveling with diabetes and I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve done it, and I’ve learned a lot from it. When dealing with travel, much like when dealing with diabetes, we must simply plan to be surprised. We must be flexible and we must be brave.

Yes, I’m diabetic. I’m also young and curious and wanderlust and alive, so I’m still doing the damn thing. And I want everyone to join me.

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