What’s up, everyone! How are those reverse bucket lists going?
As I mentioned last time, I don’t actually take objection to the idea of writing a list of goals. It’s a good way of staying focused, keeping your priorities prioritised and reminding yourself what you’re saving up all those pennies for. Yes, listing your goals is great: maybe you just don’t make one called 500 Things To Do Before I Die. That’s just setting yourself up to be overwhelmed, disoriented and, ultimately, unsuccessful.
So, I’m keeping my own list short, relevant and to the point. I have more than my usual five for you today, but significantly fewer than 500! These are all the things I want to achieve during my semester in Strasbourg.
Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne: Wine country. I can't possibly come home without an education in fine wines!
This whole bucket-list thing kind of kicked off this Wednesday when Grant’s sister Amanda and I went to a salsa class at my residence. It was, to say the least, embarrassing. We’d missed the first class of the season and had a long way to catch up. We didn’t do so well with that. But we persevered, and as I was walking Amanda to the bus stop, we were talking about how much we’d both surprised ourselves by actually going to a dance class instead of chickening out and drinking wine on our own instead.
“One of the things I learned in Africa,” said Amanda, who spent last semester in Senegal, “was that you should say yes to stuff. You never regret saying yes to stuff: you only ever regret saying no”.
You know, I'm in France, famous for its food, but the poor facilities in my dorm have me eating plain salads every night. If I want to get close to real French cooking, I'm going to have to pay for it.
Regrets: I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.*
I’m glad I’ve lived like that thus far, and I have no desire to change it now. So I’m saying yes: which is why I’m so happy with the way my ’20 Things I Did By The Age Of 20′ list is looking. When I’m offered an opportunity, I no longer say ‘Is there a reason why I should do this?’. Now I say, ‘How can I fit this into my schedule?’ Sometimes I really can’t fit it in (no regrets: I had no choice). And sometimes I can (no regrets: I gave it a shot).
*I was listening to ‘My Way’ on the way to the tram stop and it struck a chord.
Even if I don't end up strapping on a pair of skis, which I still might, I definitely want to pay a visit to either the nearby Vosges or the nearby Alps.
It’s not just about saying yes to opportunities, though. No matter how connected you are and how many opportunities arise, you’ll still have to take your own steps, once in a while. After all, if you find yourself saying ‘I always wanted to try salsa dancing, but nobody ever invited me…’ Well, then, you’re shirking responsibility for your own goals.
First, though, you’re gonna need another list. Give yourself a time frame, whether it’s a New-Year list, a list for the semester or even ‘February Goals’. Write down the most important things you want to achieve during that time. Keep it manageable: but make it inspiring, too.
This one's a no-brainer: Monsieur Grand Fromage down the road will help me out next time I go in. Which will be soon - I'm almost out of brie!
If you have trouble, there are some things you can do to get started. The first is looking at the things you’ve done so far. Which are the ones that are most memorable? The ones you enjoyed most? What did you love about them?
Now, imagine you were a foreigner visiting your local area for the first time. Try looking up your hometown on TripAdvisor
to see what others have had to say. Sometimes we take for granted what’s right outside our back door because we feel like it’ll always be there. Look at it as though for the first time, and maybe you’ll find something new!
Strasbourg is right next to Germany, but it's pretty darn close to Switzerland, too! When Grant visits, I'll take him to Basel! I've heard it's lovely in the spring.
The last two on my own list are tougher to put into picture form, and as you may have noticed, my drawings were getting lazy anyway. So I won’t draw the process of making a francophone friend or passing an exam I care about; but those are just as important to me. Contrary to the way I’ve been behaving so far in university, I really do care about getting good grades: I just need to be inspired by the subject matter, and I aim to ensure that that happens this semester.
As for the friend thing, as I said to Grant, I’m done seeing my time abroad as a temporary thing, not worth making true connections. That was how I started last semester in Costa Rica and it got me nowhere. Thankfully, I managed to snap out of it before it was too late, and start showing my co-workers the friendship they deserved. But I am investing in my time here. I’m not worrying about how I’m going to get all my stuff home, or keep in touch with my friends, or whatever. If the stuff really matters, I’ll find a way to get it home, and if the friends really matter, I’ll find a way to stay in touch. I won’t let anything so trivial as ‘Is it worth it?’ get in my way of making the most out of this semester as I can. Yes, it is worth it. This is my life. This is the year I’m probably going to spend the most time looking back on. It’s worth investing in a lifelong memory like that. : )
Germany is so close by and I've only had one very brief visit over there. One of these days I'll take a proper trip to a proper city across the border!
Ta-dah! Inspirational sentences from me to you.
Please feel free to add in any suggestions for things I might want to do while I’m here. This is my A+ list – the things I really, seriously don’t want to miss – but there’s plenty of room on my B list and even my A- list. :P
Lots of love! Let me know how your lists are going, if you’re making them :)