First year of Uni, done!

This chapter is hastily approaching its ending and I can’t believe it has come so quickly. Only this time last year I was sitting at home studying for my A level exams thinking: “How am I going to get into university?”

Now, I study Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University and it has been intense. Throughout my years in school, I had to overcome 3 different curricula. I started in Washington but spent most of my educational career in Miami then graduated high school in Portugal.

None of these experiences could compare or even prep me for what the UK had in store for me. I have been yelled at, rejected and belittled by people who don’t even know my first name. I have stayed up late nights to complete articles just for 15% of my grade. The ratio between the amount of coffee I have consumed this semester and the times I’ve said “I’m so done” is practically equal. So, why have I continued this year? Why haven’t I dropped out like 50% of my course mates?

Well, there was a day that I felt small and stupid. I was lost and just wanted to come home to a hot meal and a shower I could actually shave my legs in. I rang my dad and he told me “Lex, it is only temporary. You are better today than you were yesterday.” He was too right. My whole life played out like that.

I decided to stay to see how much I would learn. I wanted to know how far I could be pushed before I really was, “done”. Having friends around that felt the same way is really helpful. We are all tired and stressed but we are all tired and stressed together.

As a consequence of my decision, I somehow learned how to write shorthand, started my own radio show with one of my close friends and actually printed a few articles.

I found myself in situations id never thought id be in like an underground studio talking about stupid tattoos or running away from security guards after a report. It’s better than I expected and I’m glad I stayed.

So, dear reader, I hope that my experiences don’t scare you off but rather give you a brighter side to whatever situation you’re in. Keep in mind, no matter how bad it is…”It’s only temporary”…

 

 

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Under the routes

Some how I, Alexis Alley, was able to convince my parents to allow me to get a tattoo. Keep in mind that I was not allowed to go to sleepovers until I was in the 8th grade.

The tattoo has meaning but to be frank, I just liked the way it looked. Initially, I had the idea of getting a list of coordinates from each place I’ve lived in. My step dad though “why don’t you go bigger?”… how could I say no to that! tattoo

So, instead of that grocery list, I got this bad boy. On the map are blimps for each city I’ve lived in. It begins in Washington to Miami then Vilamoura and now Bournemouth. It will progressively gain more blimps over time as I move.

Before I got the tattoo geography was something I learned and forgot very quickly. I had been to too many places to really care where things were. As long as I had two feet on the ground and I could understand what people were asking me, I was fine.

Thanks to my tattoo artist in Quarteira, Beirao, I’m saving up to see the rest of the world become a part of me.

Check Point

As the first semester comes to a closing, the aches of being away from home are starting to fade. I’ve been away now for 2 months and I’m still in one piece with a little extra…fluff.

Last week, I had gone to visit my family for 3 days in Portugal and it was the most, sweetest relief. Finally, I could hear my moms voice clearly, not through Skype and see how big my brother is. If you, dear reader, do not live at home with your family- the first visit back home is a breath of fresh air.

Since I’ve been on my own I’ve grown to be more independent. Prior to going home, I felt like I wasn’t in the correct mind-set. I wasn’t interested in my course, none of the material had stimulated any inspiration and all I did was miss my family.

All this changed when we were given an assignment “in the field”. Our professors had parachuted us into a real journalistic situation where we were dispersed throughout the town centre to find a story. Didn’t matter what it was about, as long as it was news worthy.

I felt so in my element having to adapt to the situation that it became my motivation. Now, I look forward to producing articles and conversing with different people to get stories out of them and into the public. It’s what I came to university for. I’ve been given more and more assignments and I am beginning to feel like a student.

Between the mix, my cooking skills have improved and laundry missions have been completed. I’ve used garlic and olive oil as my stress reliever. I’ve made friends of various backgrounds, which has helped with settling more than anything. I also found a Vietnamese restaurant and am slowly bringing my friends into the cult…

Although, it has not been all rainbows and butterflies. I will soon be moving into student accommodation this coming month due to some outrageous landlords. Living in private housing without a contract allows them to move in and out of the house as they please. A joy for the 3 young girls living here. Note, dear reader, don’t miss your accommodation slot time and if you do, get a contract.

“It just took some time and effort to get used to being on my own”

After giving Bournemouth a chance, I found myself calling this place home a lot easier. Knowing how my mind works, it just took some time and effort to get used to being on my own. I don’t feel like I’ve completely let myself down. Dear reader, I hope when you read this article that you feel lighter too. I’m here for you and you are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

University pants

I have moved to a new country, into a new home and registered to a new school. I have also taken multiple flights on my own and made my own meals. I am currently adulting to a level I could not have anticipated.

Since I’ve come to university I have found it to be particularly difficult to make friends. In Portugal I only had a group of 20 to become friends with and back in Miami I had been acquaintances with practically everyone but called only a handful my friends. This is a whole new ball game. I find that the culture here is contained within itself and a challenge to get into. British people are nice, they say everything is “lovely, darling”, which I find adorable. However, unlike back in my other homes, I’m not very funny. My sarcasm passes but my humor isn’t dry enough. well see if I can find a formula to British humor.

I miss home and I’m itching to go back at the first chance I get but I’m not hating my first days at uni yet. I haven’t concluded that since I’m trying to inspire other people to be strong and adaptable through my blog posts but its creeping to that result.

I’m remaining open as most should in their first months of university but it doesn’t hurt to call home. I have yet to eat a pot of ramen noodles and I have kept my attendance up, so far so good. To be continued…

 

Champagne bubbles

When I first moved to Portugal, my initial plan was to make acquaintances quickly so I wouldn’t be alone for the three years that I’d be there before I left for university. Then, I found out that the Portuguese people id befriend would be the most genuine, funny and best gossipers I will come to know and they look great next to a sunset.

Among them was Joao Mexia, my best friend.   

If a champagne bottle were personified it would be him. A man with cold dark features and an elegance that lit up a room like a vanity mirror.

I would be the mother of his and his boyfriends’ children if they asked me to.  I would cheer him on until he succeeded his goals, good or bad. Most of all, I know I could lean on him in my times of desperation because he can lean on me.

We met at school but didn’t truly become close until my second year in Portugal. When I accepted the fact that I would have to stay another year for school, I accepted people more. He wooed over the fact that I was American and I awed over how American he was without ever having been to the states. We were comfortable in each other’s company in silence, in a group or the group forming around us. He is another leaf on my tree that I hope to never shake off.

My dear reader, do not be a stereotype. When you come to a new place, you meet new people and you lose some fear you had from your past because you’re learning more. I didn’t become friends with Joao because I wished to have a person like him in my life. I became friends with him because he happen to fill all the spaces that needed to be filled. It was him, this person I befriended, loved and saw as equally as everyone else that became part of my favorite piece of life.    

I write this article to Joao for no reason but also for you, dear reader, to understand that desires are not needs but simply “wants”. You may want to have your old life back but you may need to look in front of you to see all the beauty and potential before you.  

Round 3

Since I’ve been accepted into university, for some reason moving away is my biggest dilemma. Ironic isn’t it? I write a whole blog about reassuring people that moving isn’t so bad and then here I am thinking, “what in the world am I going to do with myself?”.

I’m sure any student moving away from home is feeling the same as I do. While I have had my experiences of moving, I’ve never moved away from my little family. My mother and I have been very close and as I grow older we only become closer. She raised me as a single mother, then married and became a mother again. I’ve grown up with her. She’s my everything and I’m leaving her.

Then, there’s my step dad. My best coach in life that made me hate him and be grateful for him in one instant. More recently, we’ve become closer. I think it’s because now I realize that one day, when I have children, I’ll raise them the same way he had done with me.

They both blessed our little family with my brother. The little boy who has more personality and vibrancy than anyone I’ve ever met, especially at his age. I’ve watched him grow up from the day he was born to today and I don’t know if I can accept not being in his everyday life. I live for that cheeky smile and the lisped “Good morning, Lex!”.

My best friend had mentioned to me “don’t think of it as a change like before, you moved home and you’ll always have a home to come back to.” He has never moved away but he isn’t wrong. He’s usually never wrong but that’s beside the point. Moving is never easy no matter how many times you do it. However, for myself, it has become my culture. If change were a religion, I practice it every 3 years. Airports become my temple and destinations are the verses I accept and follow.

I’m off again in September and this time I’m on my own. Look out, here I come…

Summer Lovin’

Summer 2016 is my last summer before I head off to university in the UK. This summer; I’ve travelled, I’ve loved and I’ve lost but gained so much more. Before summer, I had my final A level exams which would be sent off to universities to dictate my future.

I had gone through a difficult break up prior to taking my exams, which I feared would hinder my success. I was also planning my prom and graduation during finals and I couldn’t find the time to cry over spilt ex-boyfriends or table decorations. I just knew I had to get things done. My friends were extremely supportive and seeing them happy was my ultimate prize.

After all the chaos, my stress washed away temporarily and I held my breath until August 12th, results day. For the buffering months of June and July, I enjoyed everything my home or homes offered. I ate and drank as I pleased, swam in water so clear the sand looked like kisses of glitter and I even discovered a tall, dark, blue-eyed gentleman with the same appreciation as I do for life. I had a partner to keep me living and enjoying the royalties of Portugal.

Between the sunrises and sunsets, I had gone home to Washington State to visit my family for 3 weeks. It’s amazing to come back home to remind yourself where you came from. This year, I felt different coming back. It was as if I shed a coat of youth and became one of them…an adult.

Then, results day came. I had a crushing suspense when I had rung my school for the test results. I had my mother speak for me since my anxiety was making me stutter. She scribbled the results on a piece of paper…In a blink, I had passed my exams, was accepted into my first choice of university and finally looking for accommodation in Bournemouth. I am an Undergraduate of Bournemouth University.13522015_10154322606403711_4845153887676255747_n

As I look back on my life I appreciate all the opportunities that were given to me. At the time they felt like “my world is over”, “I hate you mom” moments. Now, I can hear all the languages I’ve been exposed to and the colors of people that I believe will never fade. I hope that you, dear reader, can look at the changes of your life as a staircase. Continuously moving up to get closer to something better and turn around, think to yourself, “I made it”.   

 

EuroProm

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In every country there are traditions. Among multiple American traditions, there is the all important celebration of prom night and graduation. Unfortunately, Portugal doesn’t do that kind of ‘stuff’. The closest comprehension of the events were in movies like high school musical.

My parents knew what they were taking away from me when they moved me here.  I felt so deserted in this new country as I watched my friends in their shining dresses on prom night and throwing their caps in the air through social media. If you have been following my story or know me personally, you’ll know that I don’t like to feel sad or excluded. So, rather than living my teenage American dream through a lit up screen, I took it upon myself to plan a prom!

It wasn’t the easiest thing for me to plan. In reality I was not anymore informed about prom than my friends here in PT. I knew there was a formal dress code and someone pouring alcohol into the punch bowl. Since the drinking age here is 18, there was no need for that. In the end, the night was amazing. Everyone looked stunning in the sunset as we all piled into the best club in Vilamoura, Aqua moments. We all celebrated the night from sunset to sunrise and went home with unforgettable memories. I tried my best to make this night as authentic as possible with materialistic things but what really made the night  was the love and appreciation we all had for each other. For every person in the room that made my move easier, I loved them for being in my life. I’ll never forget my prom night because of the love I had omitted and received from everyone. Then again, winning prom queen adds to the memories. I was so happy to have brought something from my home land to my new home and it was all because I dont like being sad.

In your life you have a choice to live happily or regretfully. You can look at life through a single lense or a full gallery. I hope that in your life, dear reader, you can make your own gallery and live happily ever after.

Version Versus Vision

It’s a funny thing when people change. Some become a better version of what they were. Others develop horrible habits. Then there’s the occasional dread of becoming your mother. The change can be so seamless that it may take another person to notice it.

If the old Alexis had met the new Alexis today, they’d kill each other! In America, I can honestly say I was very close-minded. I thought that appearance was what made an impression. I was a cheerleader, had joined bible studies and was always trying to find ways to look like the other girls around me. My health and relationships I had at the time were my main priority. I was able to be molded by judgment from others and debate was not a talent of mine.

European Alexis is different. Almost everyone I have met here in PT is openly honest about who they are and love to talk about it. I have developed this behavior since I’ve moved here and so far its done no harm. I don’t judge others and they don’t judge me. It has made sangria filled dinners more interesting. In all honesty, I think it has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I always wondered how the beautiful European woman in movies swooned everyone in a room. She simply was herself and let everyone know! Who would have guessed…

In class I had learned a term that describes how a person speaks. Idiolect  refers to an individuals speech that has developed from external experiences be it, growing up in a rural area or age. I particularly love my idiolect now; an American accent with a European way. I learned that if you’re in a place for long enough, it starts to grow on you or you grow on it. It’s beautiful, really.

My friend if you are in a new place, do not be afraid to be yourself or converge. It’s what makes you interesting and new and who doesn’t like new? You may bloom into something better.

First day of school

In your life you will have many “firsts”. First time eating sushi, first kiss, first competition, the list goes on.

My first day of school in Portugal was terrifying and I had no idea what to expect. To my surprise, I had the grades to get into the 3rd ranked private school in the Algarve. I didn’t have the capability to learn Portuguese on an academic level in my final years of school, so going to an English studies private school was my only option. The school is associated with Cambridge University in England and follows the AS and A level curriculum. Basically, it’s hard, stressful and demanding. I had planned to study and become a dermatologist as I had mentioned before, not knowing the reality of the medical field. Until I finally arrived for my registered classes of AS level Math, Chemistry, Biology and Business. I wasn’t familiar with the AS and A level curriculum and according to my last school I was an okay student.

When I greeted my fellow classmates (3 guys, no joke) and looked at the math board, I wanted to walk out. It all looked like hieroglyphics and I knew I was going to struggle that day and everyday after that. My math teacher, a soft-spoken but lovely woman, had known this as well. Her face along with the other staff members seemed to say “you poor girl, why did they do this to you?”. I carried out the day choking back tears, meeting the rest of the senior school (grades 11,12 and 13) in bunches. It was a very small school and the classes were even smaller, which I wasn’t used to. Everyone was nice and welcoming. Not once was I approached with a threatening face unlike in Miami where every one struts around with a fallen mug expression. I assumed this was the case since every one had been in my position at some point. Every person I met was from a different country and were very good-looking.

When the day finished at 5 o’clock, I walked out to my dad’s car and cried. I had a breakdown when I got back to the hotel room. I wasn’t accustomed to having so few classes, so few classmates, and so little breath between sobs. I was morning my old life. As if my first day  experience  couldn’t be any worse, I had to take mid-term exams as assessment tests for the rest of the week. I had developed a testing anxiety after this.

I actually did very well in Business, just as good as the guys who had been there all year. The business teacher and I had become good pals.  However, I was not equipped for the other subjects. The syllabus was at a level too in-depth for the little I knew. After the tests, I had switched to English language and English Literature since my writing skills were enough and continued with Business. Turns out the business teacher had taught those subjects as well, her and I spent too much time together. I was more intuitive with words than chemicals. Then again, I still wasn’t ready to take on Cambridge exams having only been introduced to the curriculum 3 months prior. By the end of the year, I failed my exams so badly I had to be ‘held back’ for my benefit. I found myself sitting on the school steps in tears yet again, helpless and stupid. I hadn’t accomplished anything.

Today, 2 years later after my first day, I over came my academic obstacles. I enjoy school and learning from everything and everyone. My anxiety with testing is not gone but has subsided for the time being.  Opposed to the educational system in Miami, I was given lots of attention and provided details on what needed to be improved in my performance to help me become a successful student. Without my amazing teacher’s dedication, I probably would have stayed on those steps. She really is a miracle worker. I have recently planned a prom for my fellow class of 15 students and will be graduating this June. Having studied my particular subjects, had inspired my prospects of studying journalism.

Moving to a new school is difficult but after a week or so the routine starts to settle. you figure out the ups and downs quite quickly . In the end it’s only school but what you learn and do with the information is what matters. It may take trial and error but it provides endless opportunity in the long run, giving up is not an option when it comes to your well-being. I hope, dear reader, that if you have been introduced to an obstacle like mine, that you will be creative and find a way to succeed.