Holidays Abroad

19th, January

Universities in EU nations do not have a 4-week winter break like many of those in the US. We have 12 days, give or take, depending on one’s class schedule. I spent the overwhelming majority of my winter break apply for grad school and completing homework which was due immediately upon my return. There were a couple evenings for which I found a couple hours of time for myself. There were periods of 3 or 4 days where I did not leave my apartment. I’m trying hard to make myself a worthy candidate for a graduate program. I was so busy writing that, were it not for the pyrotechnics set off at midnight, the New Year would have come and gone without my noticing. This, however, is pretty much the same regardless where I live. It is simply a day on the calendar for me.

I spoke with a lot of students who returned to their home country. That wasn’t really an option for me given the cost and having to deal with jet lag twice.

I had a final exam the day after returning to class; GIS (Geographic Information Systems) – the use of satellite data and remote imaging/sensing to analyze landscapes and features. I had not found the time to study over break but crammed the day before and day of. Normally my confidence level is inversely proportionate to my performance. For this class, however, I feel justified in my confidence for the exam. If it turns out to be unjustified, then I it just adds to my hypothesis of inverse performance. Ha!

Socializing here is still difficult, but I am keeping myself busy enough that I do not care. I explained to someone about a month ago that I am a returning student. With a tone of incredulity in their voice, they asked why I “did not finish college years ago.” Thankfully, comments like this do not bother me anymore. I smirked and replied, “Because I wanted my life to be better. Is that OK with you?” They apologized.

The weather here is worrying a lot of people, especially adults who are old enough to notice significant changes over their lifetime. We have only had, perhaps, 5 days of snow so far. There was even what the locals call a “thunderstorm” last week, though it is nothing compared to the thunderstorms we see in the Midwestern US. 😉 All the surface water is open. All winter events which rely on ice cover have been canceled. Reindeer populations suffer when there is no snow cover. Many people have remarked that we are having April weather and that it has been entirely too common for the last couple decades.

Last Wednesday, I went out for groceries. It was 10deg C (50F) and sunny. I enjoyed the mild weather and rare appearance of the sun by going out without a hat. This was a mistake. Despite only spending perhaps 15 minutes in the sun walking between bus stops, my scalp, face, and neck became burned and I came down with a rather severe case of sun eczema. Even the back of both hands have blisters on them. It is gross and embarrassing. I suppose the complete lack of sunlight for the past 3 months has made my hypersensitive, though I have always been susceptible to sunlight. I went to Urgent Care when blisters exploded across the surface of my head the next morning. It cost me about $660 USD for both healthcare and my prescriptions. This would have been free if I were a citizen but it is still cheaper than what I would have paid in the US without insurance.

That is all for now. Nothing really exciting going on here. A new class starts tomorrow and it seems pretty intense.

Best wishes to all.