I have just started a new blog. If you want to look at it, hit the button below. A lot has changed since I moved out and started studying psychology. It's been almost four years since my exchange in Canada. I am still in touch with my host family, the program manager and some of the friends I made. I figured it's time to go down the memory lane, and write another post about the impact the year abroad have had since then. If you are considering doing an exchange, go for it. It was truly one of my best life experiences. What you learn by living in a foreign country, cannot be learned in any other way.
This is just a random share of thoughts. Before reading, keep in mind that I wrote this after 2 hours of sleep. Although I'd like my writing to be as objective as possible in which more people can relate to it, it will always be biased. In addition, the world has an infinite number of shades, but representing all of them in one short blog post is impossible.
I believe there is a fine line between being alive and feeling alive.
Growing up in a privileged first world sometimes make you forget what really matters in life; I say, what (I think) should be higher valued in society based on some of what we think defines human nature. This time I'm not talking about the critique of materialism or the fact that beside religion and power obsession, the world seem to be ruled by money.
I'm talking about one common basic desire; to feel alive. (The fact that a big part of the world population have to fight to even stay alive is another, and more important, topic of discussion). What I hope this blog post can do is to make you reflect on whether you live or exist. Clearly, you would have to exist in order to live. Which means that everyone alive exist on this planet. Yet, not all of us feel alive. Why?
Today most people seem to be so preoccupied trying to meet society's never ending demands, that they forget to live. Instead they go into an autopilot mode based on routines and patterns. Also, social media promotes what should be our motivations, which makes us forget our own. So it is; We simply just exist.
Some will argue that this autopilot state is necessary and a result of the need to keep up and get through our high speed everyday life. To a certain extent I agree. On the other hand, I think a lot of people need a change of focus.
LOOK UNDERNEATH THE SURFACE
Take me for an instance; I'm a 20 years old full time student working two part times jobs, in Norway. In addition I try to stay in shape and most important, have a social life. I think a lot of people can relate to this example. A busy life style like that can sometimes make you feel like a robot. But does it have to be that way?
Instead of doing everything with your mind set on the finish line, find a way to enjoy the ride. You can study to learn and grow, get a job to contribute to the community and work out to have a healthy mind and body. This is an simplified example, of course it's a lot more complex. However, my point is that what you view as boring everyday habits can be more giving if you look underneath the surface, and find a purpose in what you do.
My final message is; do whatever makes you feel alive, but don't settle down to exist. LIVE. And if I were to give you one simple advice (which I learned during my exchange), always make the most of it!
Today we live in this self-centered world; People tell you to practice self-compassion, love yourself, take selfies, it's about self-motivation, don't let others define you, be your own sunshine, do the things you want in life, if you're in trouble just buy one of the thousand self-help books, be independent, put yourself first, don't care about others etc. What happened to the word "we" or "us". What all of these "encouragements" have in common is that they all focus on YOU. In other words; me me me.
I recently moved out and started my own life. Every day i convince myself that I'm an independent girl. I don't really need anyone. I can wash my own clothes, pay my own bills and cook myself a meal. What more could i possibly need? People praise me for being so responsible and grown up, and for managing everything on my own. When things go wrong, either with a friendship, relationship, or any kind of relation people tell me to just say ignore them, you don't need them. But what if I actually do (maybe not exactly "them" but people in general)? I depend on other people. I need my mom, my dad - my whole family and social network - and I need the love of others. Yes, I enjoy my own company. I can build myself a career, motivate myself to sweat enough for the "summer body of 2016", put together a wardrobe from IKEA, change a light bulb, accomplish great things and make myself happy. Some days I even prefer having some alone time and it feels empowering to manage things on my own . Nonetheless, in the end, I would never be able to be so independent, self-loving or any of that, if it wasn't for my family, friends and a bunch of other great people, who encourage me, love me, teach me, and support me along the way.
Everyone keep asking: Where do you get your inspiration? From ALL OF YOU :)
To wrap this messy blog post up, my main message to you is; please love yourself, but save some of that love for somebody else too. They need it, just as much as you need them. Depending on others is not a weakness, it's what called being human. Take advantage of your "resources" (two-way street) instead of "riding on your high horse into the sunset alone (and lonely)".
Ps: I'm not really the one to give people a lesson about what is a healthy way of caring, because I have a bad habit of overdoing it. However, I rather be the person who ask you how you are, offer help or drown you in cake too often, than being the one who never does and misses out on the greatness of human relations.
There are two types of people in the world; those who love birthdays, and those who despise them. Or actually, there's a subcategory for those who don't really care about them as well. Regardless of which group you "belong to", I think birthdays should be special to everyone, at all time.
In fact, you're only going to turn that specific age once in your lifetime.
Whether you do annual countdowns to your birthdays, or prefer to disappear for a day to avoid the attention, I encourage you to cherish past and future birthdays. Not only your own but also to the people around you. Celebrate. Show some gratitude for each others' existence, or not.
At least, chew on this: Every birthday is a privilege some people never get or will have.
Everyone should read this. You're probably thinking: "What a cliché", but seriously, cliché or not, there's some truth in it. Just take a moment and reflect on what I'm about to share.
Today I came across an inspiring article talking about the importance of "fighting" for the people we love, wether it's family, friends, a boyfriend or girlfriend etc.
Caitlin Jill Anders writes (these are some selected excerpts from the text):
Let’s face it: We take people for granted. Maybe we don’t mean to. Life is busy, life is hard, and life doesn’t always leave room for keeping up with the lives of other.
I love what she writes. We are so focused on getting a successful career that we forget to pay attention to those around us. I also think that we don't care enough about people today, because we think there are so many other options out there. Like she says, we're 7 billion people. "Of course I'll meet new people, make other friends and more connections."
You're right. You will, but hey, it doesn't mean you shouldn't appreciate the people who you love.
If you would like to read the whole article - click here.
This is when I question society; A big percentage of today's youths choose academic schools (theoretical/"class room") over vocational (practical/"hands on") schools. Great. "We need more doctors, lawyers and engineers," governments yell. Nobody wants to be "just" a carpenter, mechanic, plumber or electrican (at least no students with over average marks), or even worse, a farmer or gardener. And does anyone really want to spend the rest of their lives as a cashier in some grocery store, cleaning toilets or collecting garbage? Not me.
A well functioning society depends on all kinds of workers.
I get it; some jobs look more intriguing and pays better off than others. Nevertheless, they all matter. People with lower education or none at all, work and contribute to society on a meaningful level as well. Call it "invisible magic". To be honest, "toilet cleaner" is not on my list of desired careers (How do I know? I currently am one). Neither do I want to drive busses or paint houses for a living. However, somebody has to do it. I applaud and credit them. I also hope they are as happy with their occupational path as others. If not, thank you for doing the work everyone takes for granted. Doctors are everday heroes, and so are you (can be, regardless of workplace).
Before I left for Canada I was told to prepare for a culture shock. Apperantly it's pretty common to experience it. They told me not to lose motivation or panic if I discovered any symptoms (loneliness, headaches, homesickness etc.) However, I never ran into any major concerns or difficulties caused by "my new temporary life". At least not as severe as the ones defined as a big culture shock.
"First world" problem.
I've grown up (still am) with a double standard ideology saying: You are good enough. Yet, you can always be better. Today's society as "I know it" has a limitless offer of possibilities. It seems like anyone can become superwomen these days. The ugly truth is; Not everyone can or should be.
"You can always improve" some people say. I believe so too. On the other hand, I've realized that it's alright to be just as good as you are, or want to be. You might be the brightest straight-A student, qualified to be whatever you'd like. However, the idea of being able to achieve anything is often interpreted as "the ability of achieving everything". Teenagers now days are pretty hard on themselves. Label them generation "lazy", but be aware that most of them work their butt off thinking they should still do more, be better. I think our "easy" access to being successful in all areas is overwhelming (high privileged countries). It makes us feel the need to meet all "expectations" at once.
Having one big or several hobbies isn't cool enough any longer. You need tons. In addition to being a good student, you have to be a perfect girlfriend/boyfriend, awesome friend, dutiful daughter/son and a responsible sister/brother. Not only are you obliged to get high marks, attend every single party, have a thousand of followers on social medias, you also have to earn your own money. Although this is a superficial and generalized exaggeration, there is an underlying thruth in it.
I personally don't think it's a healthy life style. From what I see, more teens are depressed and experience burn outs (adults as well) regardless of personal accomplishments. Because no matter how good we are, we can always be better, right?
Let's say your time and energy is worth a 100%. You got five different roles to perform, two hobbies to maintain and ten tasks to do during one day. You don't want anything to be done halfway, but with a 100% effort, at all time. If anyone else than superman can tell me how this can be done well, please tell me the secret. Because I'm not sure if that's possible without losing yourself in the process. You will obviously have to "play" all these roles in the best way you can. However, sometimes it's okay to be great in science but not in math.
Point is: Be the best you can be. It's admirable to have ambitions and to be "multitalented". Just remember; It's just as admirable when people accept the fact that they suck or that they don't neccesearly need to be the best. Be happy about being, instead of sad about not being. Credit yourself for what you can, instead of critizing yourself for what you cannot. Be something, but not everything.
If you do happen to be one of those superhumans, by all means, keep up the good work!
Wow. It's "already" been a year since I started my exchange. As I've mentioned a hundered times before; Canada was a blast. I literally had the time of my life. Despite the very few moments of boredom, desperation, frustration and loneliness (which is what it is; life), the year in Canada was as close to perfect as it could get. It was filled with adventures, bliss, family, friendship, laughter, love and so much more.
There are no words to describe how grateful I am to have made friends with so many great people. Whenever I look back at my Canadian experience, I can't stop smiling. The year abroad gave me insight and knowledge neither a book, teacher or a movie can offer. As I'm trying to write a well reflected and summarized entry to mark this "special" day, I realize that it's an impossible task. Thinking about the impressions and feelings is easy, but expressing, explaining and putting it all togheter is challenging. I believe nobody can fully understand what it's like to be an exchange student unless you go yourself.
There are several parts of my everyday in Yarmouth that I miss. For instance the people, rugby, school spirit (Yarmouth Vikings), short distances, campfires, having nothing to do and in general the laid back lifestyle. Although, I must admit that there were lots of things from my life in Norway that I missed while being away as well. The ideal would be if I could take what I love, from both of the lives, and braid it into one.
Regardless of how happy I am to be home, I envy present and future exchange students. If only I could, I would do it all over again. You may roll your eyes when people ecourage you to live in the moment. "Ye, ye, time flies fast blah blah." I have one recommendation; enjoy and embrace it while you can, because yes, time do run fast. Trust me.
Ever since I had to learn my first English word, I wished that I was born in an English speaking country. I found it unfair that other people could go anywhere, speaking their own language and be understood. I on the other hand, I had to spend hours practicing pronounciation, memorizing glossaries, figuring out grammar and how to build sentences. Not only did I have to learn how to write, I also had to speak with this strange intonation that made me feel like a fool. English was not my best subject, which is one of the main reasons why I did an exchange. I wanted to become fluently in English, both written and oral.
Nevertheless, living in Canada made me realize that speaking Norwegian is pretty cool after all. Despite our small number of inhabitants (5,019 million), our language is quite neat. So is yours! I also discovered that not everything sounds better in English, which most Norwegian teenagers think these days. For example, in every country there are small communities. Within all these smaller societies, there are local dialects, expressions, jokes, slang and sayings. In addition there is a big diversity of letters, signs and symbols. You can try to translate some of it and it might make some sort of sense. Yet, it won't have the exact same affect or meaning to any of the parts communicating.
Take me for instance, during my first weeks in Canada I felt humorless and linguistically disabled. People would tell a joke or use a specific word in a particular situation and laugh their heads off. I would force a laugh, while thinking "ha ha...ha, what?" As a case in point, how was I supposed to know that if a boy was "wheeling", it meant that he was trying to "get some"? I thought wheels were connected with cars and motors, not hitting on girls (or boys for that matter). Wait, isn't hitting someone mean?
Getting back on topic, point is; Be proud of your language! It doesn't matter if it's ranked high or low on the list of "most spoken languages in the world." In fact, don't you think it's at least a bit cool that you and your friends can travel almost anywhere, and "not be understood?"
Most teenagers think of the second language they are forced to learn in school as a "pain in the ass." I believe languages enrich your life. Hopefully this post makes you reconsider your attitude towards learning other languages. Have fun with it. Or not. If you chose not; good luck!