Let the Packing Commence!

With the help of my best friend I was able to get half of my packing done last night, it went a little something like this…

Everything I want to cram into two suitcases, a carry-on, and a backpack.

Packing for Five Months

This was too grand a feat to attempt in one night, so we decided to tackle clothes and bedding. I must say, trying to decide what you’ll want to have in a foreign country for five months was quite the challenge. But surprisingly, I did pretty well at not over packing clothes, if I do say so myself.

Packing 2

Bring on the space bags!

Packing 5 Packing 4 Packing 3

We managed to fit all of my clothes, a comforter, sheets, and a pillow into one piece of luggage. Space bags, little miracle workers!

Now all I have left to do is pack my bathroom supplies and miscellaneous items, which will be going in my second piece of luggage. I plan to pack my shoes in my carryon to save on weight in my checked bags. Also a few extra clothes and some travel bathroom supplies will go in my carry-on as a safe guard if (God forbid) anything happens to my luggage and I don’t have it at first.

I leave day after tomorrow, surreal!

 “From an early age I longed to leave home and to keep going. I cannot imagine not traveling- stuck home all the time, in the confinement of a house or community or a city.” -Paul Theroux

 

 

Thank you, Tawny!

I want to share how grateful I am to Tawny for donating towards my dream to study abroad. I am so appreciative of your generosity, it truly means the world to me! As I mentioned so many unexpected costs have come up -such as getting placed in more expensive housing and my laptop crashing requiring me to purchase a new one- that every extra penny is such an immense help. It humbles me to be able to say that through God’s grace and the generosity of others I was able to raise $2,490. I am in awe and so deeply grateful, I have received so much support and I am able to pursue my dream because of all of the amazing people in my life, THANK YOU.

Four more days…

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”  -Joseph Campbell

Fundraising Goal: Achieved and Surpassed!

Thank you so much Lisa for not only helping me reach my fundraising goal, but also surpassing it! I say this with one very grateful heart, words cannot express my appreciation. I’ve spent the past three months fundraising and it brings me so much gratitude to everyone who donated to be able to say that I went over my goal. As so many unexpected expenses have arisen it helps me out immensely to have raised a little extra.

In these last five days I have before I leave I am busy getting things in order. I’ve arranged a few more purchases once I arrive in Groningen, things students are selling before they leave. It’s encouraging to be finding that I can get things second hand and therefore cheaper than I had been anticipating. I have a plan for my cell phone, I am going to put it on a seasonal standby for the duration of my time abroad, so I will strictly be using it when I have access to WiFi. This way I can still iMessage, email, and Skype on my phone but I will not be racking up international charges. Doing this will cost me $8 a month, which is significantly cheaper than the alternative. Then once I get to Groningen I will find a pay as you go phone to have for emergencies and contact within Europe. I cancelled my gym membership and have my auto insurance set up to go on a freeze the day that I leave. My finances are in order, my cards are ready to be used internationally, and I already have my Dutch bank account situated. The University of Groningen offers a great service to international students, they have a partnership with a bank that allows students to apply while still in their home country then activate their account at the welcoming ceremony once they arrive. This will be a great help because I won’t have to rack up ATM and conversion charges, instead I can primarily use my local bank. All I have left to do is pack and get in a lot of quality time with my loved ones!

Five days to go, can you believe it???

 

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.  The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” -Chris McCandless

Fundraising Update: Almost There!

I want to extend many thank you’s to my family – Grandma Wolf, Uncle Keith, Aunt Kris, and Aunt Brenda – for their generosity and donations. Also thank you to my wonderful coworkers who donated and wrote me a card with such kind words of support. I am so grateful for all of you! I can’t reiterate enough just how much it means to me to have so many people supporting my dream, it wouldn’t become a reality without every one of you!

13 days to go, and a mere $140 to reach my fundraising goal!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine

TWO WEEKS

I’ve been busy getting things in order the past couple of weeks, here is what I have gotten done so far:

I finally received my official acceptance letter from the University of Groningen, they gave me my student number and all of the login information I need for their student portal.

I booked my room in the hostel I will be staying in for the first few days that I am in Groningen until I can move into my housing. What an adventure this will be, true Eurpoean travel experience right from the get go!

I’ve joined quite a few facebook groups for the city of Groningen – groups for international students, for the international student house I will be living in, travel groups, etc. – but one in particular I joined is one for people to sell their bicycles. I posted on the page and let people know I am in the market for a bike, how much I can afford, and when I will be able to purchase it. I had quite a few responses but one in particular stuck out because it was right in my budget. So I got to talking with the girl selling it and she said she would be able to sell it to me February 1st, when I asked her if that was the earliest she’d be willing to sell it she apologized and said she needed it for exams until then. However, she said if I was living in international student housing and by coincidence was living in the same building as her that we could share the bike until she was done with her exams. Turns out, we do live in the same building, she’s even on the floor right below me. Talk about kismet! Unfortunately I won’t be moving into the building until February 1st so we won’t be able to share it, but it will be very easy to meet up and do the sale on that day! Also, the building I am in does not have wifi so I need a UTP cable to access internet. I asked her if she didn’t need hers after she left if I could buy it from her and she said I could just have it, and if I needed anything else to let her know. I’m really happy with how great that seems to be working out!

The Erasmus Student Network is Europe’s international student organization, many schools have their own group, and Groningen is a part of it. They plan events and trips for international students and seem to be a great resource for students to get settled in and make the most of their study abroad experience. They also offer a mentor program where they pair you up with a student from Groningen who can help you get settled in. I applied to get a mentor and was paired with her last week. Get this: her name is Hedwig. HEDWIG, like Harry Potter’s owl. Shameless Harry Potter nerd that I am I sure got a kick out of this, for me to get paired with anyone I get paired with Hedwig. Meant to be! We have been talking a bit and are coordinating things so she can meet me at the train station when I get into Groningen. It gives me a lot of peace of mind to know I won’t be completely left to my own devices when I first get there.

I decided that I wanted to load up on most everything I will need while I am gone rather than buying it when I got there. So I went to the store and stocked up on all of my bathroom supplies – face wash, contact solution, make-up, hair products, medicine, etc etc that will hopefully last me five months. I figured doing it this way would save me money in the long run, from what I’ve read most everything is cheaper here in the US. I even went ahead and bought my bedding here as well, I got the least expensive bedding I could find and plan on using my space bags to flatten it out when I pack.

Tomorrow is my last day at my job, I must admit this is very bittersweet for me. I’ve been at my job for over two years now and really love it, I was blessed with the perfect job to get me through school. This is one of the bigger sacrifices I’ve had to make to pursue studying abroad, giving up my job, but I know just how worth it it is. I will miss my spot as the girl behind the counter, but I’m off to bigger and better things.

I think I have just about everything that I need. There are a couple of minor things I still need to purchase but other than that I just need to pack and get in a lot of quality time with my loved ones. I can’t believe it’s already time to start packing, man this time has flew!

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” -Michael Palin

Thank you, Grandpa Jack!

I want to thank my grandpa for his generosity in donating towards my fundraising efforts, I am so very grateful! I can’t say enough how much it means to me to have people supporting my dream, I truly could not do it without all of you, so again THANK YOU.

$600 left to my goal, and 18 days to go!

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.  There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” -Jawaharial Nehru

Kornoeljestraat – My New Home

Got my housing assignment!

I spent some time a few months ago looking for rooms on my own that students were renting out, which would have been ideal because they are generally inexpensive and I would have had the opportunity to live with Dutch students. However I wasn’t having much luck on that front and I didn’t want to run the risk of not having a place to live when I got there, so I went the safe route and applied for accomodation through the city’s housing office. This places me in international student housing.

I received my assignment yesterday and I must admit, I’m less than excited about where I’ve been placed. It’s more expensive than I would have liked, at €340, over $460 USD, a month it stretches my budget thin. The reviews I’ve read are not promising, people advising students not to stay there due to a lack of cleanliness and a cockroach problem. The upside is I do get my own room, and for my own feelings of security I am grateful for that. It is one of the only non smoking accomodations, which is an important factor for me. Plus, I will be living with people from all over the world, which will be a really cool experience in and of itself.

I’m trying to put it into perspective and recognize that this is all part of the experience, regardless of the conditions I will have a roof over my head while I am living in The Netherlands. THE NETHERLANDS. So although the clean freak inside of me doesn’t relish in the idea of living somewhere dirty, this experience is meant to take me out of my comfort zone. So here’s to jumping out of my comfort zone, I can’t wait to have this adventure continue to grow me!

19 days to go!

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” – John A. Shedd

Thank you, Ben!

I want to extend a very big thank you to Ben for his immense generosity in donating towards my dream. It’s moments like these that I am so encouraged by people’s genuine kindness and their giving hearts.

$800 left to my goal, and 26 days to go!

“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” -Pat Conroy

ONE MONTH

I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. I still vividly remember the moment I decided to pursue this, and thinking what patience I would need to have to wait eight months for it to happen. Now here we are, seven months down in the blink of an eye. This experience has grown my perspective on time; that if I don’t fixate on my want for the future, I will find that time passes all the same and the future is never as far away as it seems.

In the past seven months I have gone from a mind set on going to England to a heart filled with love for The Netherlands, a sense of home for a place I have yet to see with my own eyes. I conquered another semester of school, even getting the best grades of my college career despite having one very sidetracked mind. (It’s a little hard to focus on schoolwork when you’re preparing to leave the country for an extended period of time.) I’ve jumped through hoop after hoop and obstacle after obstacle that has come my way in this process. Now here we are, so close I can almost taste it.

I’m striving to enjoy every phase of life, live in the moment recognizing I will never have it again. This comes so far from naturally for me, but in my journey to study abroad I can honestly say I have grown in this area. Now with a month left until my adventure of a lifetime I hope to enjoy every moment I have left with my friends and family here, to not take for granted the things I will surely miss while I am away.

“Act in the moment, live in the present, slowly slowly don’t allow the past to interfere, and you will be surprised that life is such an eternal wonder, such a mysterious phenomenon and such a great gift that one simply feels constantly in gratitude.” -Osho

Fundraising Update

I have been without a computer and unable to update my fundraising progress, so I have fallen a little behind. I mentioned a fundraiser I was working on that I would update when I had more information. Unfortunately that fundraiser didn’t pan out. My best friend had the brilliant idea to sell hot cocoa at our city’s christmas lights, however due to some regulations we weren’t given the green light to do so. I don’t have anything else in the works right now, but I would love ideas if anyone has them!

I am now over halfway to my fundraising goal, only $900 more to go!

Here are the much appreciated donations I have received recently in the order that I received them. I want to give a big thank you to:
Emily for being so thoughtful as to send me the Euro’s she had. These are personally my very first Euro’s and I am so excited to now already have some!
My mom who donated so generously to my study abroad adventure. I love you, mom!
And to my best friend and her husband, Shae and Aaron, who were also so very generous- too generous even 😉

Words cannot express my gratitude to everyone who is helping make my dream come true, I truly could not do this without all of you!

34 days to go!

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber