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Fin

Time July 16th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The jet lag has worn off, the sand has been emptied out of my shoes, and i’m officially back at my home university; It feels weird looking out the dorm window and not seeing palm trees or hearing screeching birds. I’ll always miss the great environment and people of Australia who take everything in stride and are be fazed by very little. I think my experience abroad has shown me that life isn’t all about competition and doing things because they’re considered the norm. There are always different paths to explore or new things to try, and you shouldn’t let the actions or opinions of others determine your own choices. I am used to people talking about being successful and believing that there are few paths leading to such success. But Australia gives you the freedom to work out what direction you want your life to take and how you’re going to fulfill those aspirations. I have definitely gained a new outlook on the future, making it seem like an opportunity for exploration, much like my time abroad turned out to be.

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We need to talk (2)….

Time June 30th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear Australia,

It’s not you, it’s me. These last four months have been great – we’ve shared some laughs, done some exploring, and I got to learn so many new things about you. But unfortunately this was not meant to last; tomorrow afternoon I’ll be heading back off to America. No, this is not based off of the current World Cup standings.

I’ll always remember the time we spent together as an awesome experience where I was shown a whole new part of the world and way of life. I wish I could spend this last day with you doing something other than cleaning my bathroom and kitchen, but that final room inspection is the last test I need to pass here. With finals out of the way and my room practically sterilised with Ajax, it’s about time to head home. I know we’ll be in touch Australia, since there are many people here who I want to keep in my life.

We’ll be seeing each other again –

Warm regards, Caroline

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Beginning of the end

Time June 18th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

You know it’s exam season when laundry becomes a  welcome distraction from studying. And I definitely don’t need 20 minutes to sharpen a pencil. This ‘winter’ weather isn’t really helping me along either – I don’t know when 60 degrees and sunny became known as cold, but I would much rather take on these arctic conditions than sit inside this study room for another 10 minutes. The first 5 minutes were focused and productive, but really any longer than that and I begin to feel the walls closing in. Luckily I am not alone in this internal struggle. Some fellow Uni students and I have formed a few study groups to provide some group motivation. The sad thing is we really though studying would get done in these meetings. So far we’ve just ended up cooking pretty extravagant meals (mostly pasta) while discussing important topics like how the US is destined to win this World Cup. At least that’s my opinion, but other less realistic individuals believe the Socceroo’s have a fighting chance. Sure, they can dream.

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It’s official

Time June 10th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

I’ve just set a personal best for procrastination. But I can’t in good conscience take all the credit for this impressive feat. I’d like to thank Netflix, rainy days, and food as well. Without their help my incredible ability to put off studying for finals may never have developed. It’s t-minus 9.5 days until that first exam comes around. I should probably be more nervous, but have somehow convinced myself that the last 4 lazy days spent hanging around the apartment are a necessary preparation step to get me into  test-taking mode. Starting tomorrow – for reals – I will finally be ready to open those books. And maybe wear something other than sweatpants. Maybe.

It has not even hit me how much these exams are worth. But maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe it’s best to approach exam period with a calmer mindset rather than getting worked up. And maybe taking a few days to just hang out will prep my brain for the enormous amount of information it must inevitably absorb. So there really is no reason to stress, that will begin tomorrow. For now I’ll just enjoy my last few hours of freedom. But if my parents ask I’ve been buried under a pile of textbooks for the last 72 hours.

 

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Lasts

Time June 2nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

With one week left of classes, the atmosphere of Sydney Uni has undergone a dramatic shift. I’ve entered what I consider to be the “last time” mindset. Basically every time I take a seat in class, power up my computer for notes, or nearly fall asleep in lecture, the sad thought of that being the last time I’ll be in that lecture hall overwhelms me. Even outside the classroom I can’t help but think how my days of reading out in the park and walking into the main hall are limited. 3 weeks seems like nothing compared to the 15+ I’ve already spent in Sydney. Even if those 3 weeks are probably going to seem incredibly long since they’ll be spent frantically studying. I hope to soak in as much of the campus as possible throughout this next week; preserving the sights of campus for as long as possible.

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It’s Monday

Time May 27th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

It’s Monday. Just logging onto this blog took some serious motivation. I think the entire process took around two hours, 3 bottles of water, a shower, and a staring contest with my biology textbook. Before my brain turns off for the night I’ll recap this past weekend: beach, sleep, stare at homework readings, repeat. Of course there was also some serious raging, but I figures that was a give in and didn’t need to be said. Anyways, I can feel my attention span shifting. This is an embarrassingly short post but – it’s Monday. I’ll bring twice as much excitement to the blog next time! Unless it’s on another Monday.

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Politics and some other things

Time May 20th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

Four TV series, five term papers, and countless cereal boxes later, here I am. Eating Corn Flakes in bed while watching How I Met Your Mother to celebrate submitting my last paper. It’s safe to say that I have this semester routine down. So what’s up next for Australia and I? To be honest I can’t really see where we’re heading long-term. Of course Sydney is a beautiful and lively city, and even after 5 months the walk to uni and the beach is still impressive. But I do catch myself flipping through pictures on the Wake Forest website sometimes…let’s just keep that between us, America.

This past week however did come with quite the shake-up. The Australian budget was released and the Australian public is not pleased – especially students. Tony Abbott is taking quite the beating from students who are angry with the increase in uni fees (to put it lightly). Everyday on campus, swarms of students approach me asking for my signature on some petition or presence at a rally. I’ve never encountered a community so young that knows/cares so much about their government policies. It definitely makes me think twice about how invested I am in U.S affairs. There is a lot to learn from the passion of Australian students who don’t consider school to be separate from the real world, they think about real world issues rather than pretending they don’t exist until graduation.

I promise you America that I will be more attentive to you whenever we do reunite – something I’ve been hoping will come to pass soon.

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Winter Song

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

I’ve seen some pictures of you lately – you look good. The warmer weather and blue skies have made quite a difference. I can’t help but fondly remember those warm summer days we spent the last 19 years enjoying. Not to get all nostalgic on you, I know we’re currently on a break, but those Fourth of July festivities and disastrous Slip n’ Slide memories won’t leave me alone. And that’s not just because of the scars I’m left with because of them.  I know you have about 3.2 million other people to keep you busy, but hopefully you think of me at least once in a while.

Things with Australia are going well, though I admit that some of the excitement has worn off these last few months. This may have something to do with the sharp reduction in beach trips. And need for heat rather than air conditioning. And looming final exams. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking of you these last few days and hope all is well. Hope you haven’t completely forgotten about me!

Sweetly,

Caroline

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Self-Diagnosing

Time May 6th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

Getting over jet lag is something all travelers know how to muddle through. But I have now diagnosed myself with seasonal dementia. What is this perplexing state of mind you ask? Well it’s a term I just made up to describe how all my time with you has made me accustomed to feeling carefree at this time of year – the season of summer vacation. Moving through my last month of classes and preparing for final exams, this happy-go-lucky mindset is probably not the best one to have. Instead of writing that history paper I find myself looking up summer beach trip destinations. And when I should be proofreading my Anthropology case study, I’m trying to recall if my summer wardrobe is in need of any additional members. Unfortunately Australia is over summer and moved on to welcoming winter, maybe a little too eagerly for my taste. So most other students at Uni are able to focus on their studies when I have been conditioned to turn off my brain at this time of year.

My seasonal mix ups have been a bit of of a challenge. And unfortunately Australia’s transition into sweater weather has made others all the more confused when I start talking about how I can’t wait to sit poolside in a couple months. I guess I haven’t been able to really let go of all the time we’ve spent together, America.

Seriously going to try and work now – Caroline

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And we’re back.

Time April 29th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

It looks like my brain is on strike. Despite sincere attempts to get back to work, I can’t focus for more than about 8 minutes without somehow ending up on Netflix or Buzzfeed or Googling my own name – even though I most likely did all three earlier that day.

This very blog post was written over the course of about 48 hours. At this rate I should get my anthropology paper done by the time I land at JFK. Hopefully this week brings a new focus with it, preferably for actual university courses rather than which 30 Rock episode I need to watch. Now I have to cut this post off short and get back to finding out which breed of dog I would be!

 

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Break it down

Time April 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

Something about my crashing computer and twitchy left eye told me it was about time for an academic break. Thankfully Sydney Uni agreed and has graciously granted its students a week off to recharge our batteries before the final end-of-semester push. So here I am, at 2:00pm on a Tuesday, wearing sweatpants for the ___th consecutive day, watching Scrubs and wondering whether Zach Braff is a good actor or just funny looking. Either way he has really nice hair. And that will get you places. Unlike the majority of student travelers, I am taking a stay-cation and enjoying the sights of Sydney for the week. So far the sights of Sydney have consisted of my empty apartment and Coogee beach. But there are no complaints from over here on the couch – for the first time since arriving in Australia I can finally take a breath and just enjoy being here. Even though you go through the motions of arriving in a new country, getting situated, attending class, and trying to act like your life is totally together, your mind needs to catch up. The whirlwind of thoughts and feelings I’ve experienced over the last 2+ months have been draining/overwhelming at times, here is a look into the winding labyrinth that has been my thought process:

1. !!AUSTRALIA!!

2. LOOK an Australian tree! And there’s a bird! And a person! The cars are on the left this is crazyyyy. No way, it’s Aussie bread – grab me some Vegemite mate! YEA AUSTRALIA

3. Oh ew no take the Vegemite away.

4. I so pale – BEACH

5. Wait grocery shopping? There’s no cafeteria with 100,001 food options? Well we all have to grow up eventually – it’s all part of the experience, right?

5a. All I bought was 2 types of cereal, some oranges, and salt. I don’t even really like oranges.

6. I haven’t been in school for 3 months and classes finally start tomorrow. What am I studying again?

7. This university is BIG.

8. So many Aussie friends to make! Yay new friends! Yay Australia! YAY

9. …..do I say hi first, or should I wait, or…..

10. Thank you Facebook for reminding me about all the people and events I’m missing. Awesome.

11. BEACH

12. NO. There’s a spider in my kitchen, should I call the police?? Google it Google it! Is it poisonous? Use Bing!  WHERE’D IT GO??

13. I’m sorry, this one assignment is worth 20% of my final grade? Oh it’s 30%? Perfect.

14. Obamacare. Yes I know what it is. No I’d rather not debate it in the middle of History class.

15. Facebook – Can everything back home just stop until next semester? Thanks.

16. If I had a nickel for every tear I shed over spending money on laundry, I’d have the Prime Minister washing my clothes himself.

17. Biology lab + confusion = friends made.

18. Purchased more than breakfast food at grocery store.

19. Have not gotten lost in city within last 2 weeks.

20. Understand Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion.

21. Wait, it’s almost May?

Wow, how I’ve grown. It is incredible to think that one more month and I’ll be buckling down for finals and looking for cheap souvenirs I can legally bring home. I’m sure between now and then this list will continue to grow. But it’s pretty cool to look back and know how far you’ve come – now I just need to figure out the whole ‘currency’ business.

Sweetly, Caroline

 

 

 

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Country Weekend

Time April 15th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

From cattle to kangaroos and venomous spiders – country weekend had it all. Back in my city apartment I can safely say that the countryside is a defining feature of Australia. Until a few days a go I was still a bit unsure about whether I was even in Australia – the only major difference were the accents and constant discussion of rugby. But after coming face to face with a Redback spider and watching lines of kangaroos hop through rolling green hills, I’m more than convinced I made it to the right country. Not only was the landscape an amazing one, but my host Aussie parents were just as great. They made sure I was well fed for the upcoming winter months and took us on an amazing tour of their cattle farm. Even though I’m a vegetarian no hostility was thrown my way which was appreciated.

This weekend I was able to experience the Australia I read about in wildlife magazines and saw on TV growing up. It was wild, unpredictable, and adventurous. I hope more than anything to experience it again. There was so much I learned about farm life and the effort that goes into it, as well as how landowners are at the constant mercy of nature. Only a few months ago the entire land was a scorched brown and bush fires were a constant threat. That was hard to imagine since everything was so green this past weekend; but that’s Australia for you. Of course I will stay in touch with my Aussie family and probably keep asking them more questions than they care to answer, but that trip was the most memorable excursion of the semester.

 

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Sunday morning, rain (still) falling

Time April 8th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

Aussie April has arrived and brought with it the monsoons, in both a metaphorical and literal sense. It’s true that I have needed to use my backpack as a flotation device several times this week to get to class. And no I can’t really remember what it feels like to be dry. Or what sun is. Luckily I have my trusty neon yellow rain jacket that manages to defy logic and actually trap moisture inside it’s vacuum like seal. An added bonus is that anyone within a two mile radius is able to spot me by the vibrancy of this stylin’ slicker – just don’t look too long or the brightness may have adverse effects on your eyesight.  That may be difficult however since I happen to model neon yellow like no one else.

Valuable fashion insights aside, I mentioned that I’ve encountered monsoons of a poetic sort as well. This does not really make sense but I thought it sounded nice. Basically it was an allusion to the fact that this last week consisted of me being drenched with incredible amounts of information from my courses at Uni, (surely my more cultured readers caught onto that innuendo). The class that really soaked me to the bone was my Australian History lecture. On the very first day of April the downpour began. I’ll spare you some of the boring information and tell you that which kept me from daydreaming about the neon yellow rain boots and umbrella I plan on buying:

Did you know that Australia first served as both a prison island and as home to the first experimental British brewery – that’s where Vegemite came from, an experiment gone wrong. It’s also a fact that Aussie sheep are born bright purple but fade to white within a few hours. Koalas were once believed to possess great wisdom/power and so were consulted about all life matters, personal and business. The famed Sydney Opera house was initially a combined dentist’s office and seafood restaurant. In 1824 there was an outbreak of the mysterious W.D disease that compelled Aussies everywhere to bite their fellow Australians. Shark Rodeos were the most popular form of entertainment in Australia, until they were banned. Kangaroo Rodeos were the second most popular form of entertainment in Australia, until they were banned. And finally, Australian History professors always play April Fools Day pranks on their students by teaching them fake historical facts.

Vive l’Australie! – Caroline

 

 

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$$ Ain’t a Thing

Time April 1st, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

Australia is proving to be a bit more high maintenance than expected. Though every day I’m abroad I wake up more cultured, insightful, and just knowledgeable about all things everywhere, my bank account is not experiencing such growth. Instead it has taken more of an abrupt, plummeting tail-spin into a seemingly endless abyss.  Lately Australia seems to be asking for more and more of my colorful Aussie dollars. The fact that they’re so pretty makes parting with them all the more difficult. To prevent myself from throwing money at less important expenses, like food or laundry, I’ve had to develop a budget so I can spend it on things that really matter, like bus tickets to the beach and whale watching excursions. And the dishes I keep breaking.

There are definitely some benefits to following my sensible financial plan:

  1. I’ve been able to live out my dream of eating cereal for every meal.
  2. Finding coins on the ground brings me joy as I’ve never felt before.
  3. I may have worn the same shorts for three days and have dangerously low blood sugar, but I’m tan. And with whales.
  4. Free Wi-fi reminds me that there is still good in the world.
  5. I’ve come dangerously close to purchasing a life size One Direction cutout. Twice. I need limits.

So in conclusion: whales, cereal, tan, and budgets. I’m dealing with Australia’s diva-esque demands as they come and hopefully in the end might even get some life skills out of it. But let’s not get crazy.

Adio$ – Caroline

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“Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”

Time March 21st, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

Try not to be too alarmed by what I am about to say: I like science lab. Australia has done the impossible and actually made this normally long, tedious, long, tiring, long, irritating, and long class enjoyable. I’ve learned plenty of things – science related and not – that  will undoubtedly help me out in the future. I wanted to share some of my top revelations with you so grab a pen and enjoy:

1. Labs are still too long.

2. I look awesome in lab goggles.

3. No pants!

3a. *No pants required.

3b. **No pants required when other clothing worn.

3c. ***To clarify, you must be fully clothed while in lab.

4. Choosing a partner who looks as hopelessly lost as you makes everything more fun – shout out to Marie.

5. Lab is not the time to practice your Aussie accent.

6. There is never a good time to practice your Aussie accent.

7. Apparently all Americans sound southern.

8. “Enough” is not a sufficient answer to “How many cells did you count?”

9. Talking too often can result in accidental ingestion of ATP solution.

10. Eating ATP does not make you more energized. It does taste like burnt popcorn.

11. Even in Australia I am still the greatest threat to my survival.

12. Know yo conversionz.

13. Oliver is an angel.

14. To the moderators, looking busy and actually doing work are  the same thing.

15. Microscopes are dumb.

16. Singing mid-way through lab is not a common practice and directly results in you receiving some serious side eye.

17. Check your lab coat pockets before leaving.

18. If  test tubes somehow find their way home with you, they make great toothbrush covers (wash first).

19. Pipetting is an art. And I am Picasso.

20. Plants are dumb.

21. Lab is NOT a race. Unless you finish first, then you’re a winner and can eat Tim-Tams for dinner.

Clearly my intellectual horizons are expanding at an alarming rate. I will continue to share my wisdom with you because who couldn’t benefit from this wealth of knowledge?

Cheers,

Caroline

 

 

 

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A Great Big World

Time March 13th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

It’s really easy to be yourself with Australia. No matter how unusual or offbeat you consider yourself to be, simply turn around and I  guarantee there will be a group of people discussing their  love for Icelandic rock music – the very same genre that comprises your Spotify playlist.  There’s just room for everyone here. Walking to Uni campus is like passing through a parade of various cultures, trends, ideals, and orientations. Sydney students take pride in their unique styles by always dressing to impress/awe/occasionally alarm.  And to think that a few years ago just the thought of parting my hair on the right side, as opposed to the typical left, made me break out in a nervous sweat. The best part about this hodgepodge of characters is that everyone is okay with everyone else. Stands publicizing the detrimental effects of coal mining on Australian wildlife are situated next to rallies petitioning for the approval of a hydraulic fracking project. A university run gay-rights march passes right by a meeting being held by the Student Conservative Association. Sydney Uni campus seems to exist in a peaceful state of equilibrium.

This type of an environment is just what students need to thrive. Trying new things is #3 on my list of favorite things. #2 if we exclude food from that list. The comfortable freedom of self expression makes one willing to experience more: Why not attend that meeting on Aboriginal poverty issues? Or try out that African themed cooking class? And go ahead, talk to that guy sitting next to you in Anthropology who’s wearing purple nail polish, (it is a nice color). Australia makes you happy with yourself and those around you – and a girl always likes to feel loved.

TTYL – Caroline

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Real World: Uni Edition

Time March 6th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Dear America,

So the honeymoon has officially come to an end. Classes are now in session at Sydney Uni and it’s time to get back to work. Having spent the last two weeks running around Sydney without a care in the world, laying out on the beach and strolling around parks, adhering to an academic schedule is going to be an interesting transition. This is especially true since the most intellectually challenging feat I’ve had to perform in the last 3 months was figuring out how to work a Flip camcorder.

Now I get to gain a whole new perspective of Australia from the inside of a lecture hall. Filled with 500 of my closest friends. Even I am used  to knowing the faces and names of all my classmates, which is a real achievement since I tend to retain new names for a maximum time of about 27 minutes. Hopefully I’ll learn at a 2 names per week rate but I may just end up calling everyone mate. One thing I cannot get around however is the size of campus. You don’t realize just how big Sydney Uni is until you’re 15 minutes late for biology and are running  in circles looking for the correct building while trying to avoid getting drenched by the monsoon that’s just about to open up above you. Great first day by the way. My navigation skills are just about as sharp as my ability to recall names so I’ve resolved to keeping a campus map with me at all times, regardless of how much of a novice it makes me look. At least I have my friends Mate 1 and Mate 2 to help guide me as well.

The next few weeks will determine how my relationship with Australia withstands the messy real world. I think we’ll make it through the stress/late nights tired yet still intact. However, the lectures are recorded online – just in case we need to take a beach day.

Catch you on the flip side – Caroline

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The Cold Hard Truth

Time February 24th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

Australia is way hotter than you. Excuse me for being so straightforward, but it’s the truth. From the Opera House, to the Harbor Bridge, to the Blue Ridge Mountains and finally Manly Beach, Sydney has proven many times over  that it brings the heat no matter where you are. That bright sun and blue sky make any excursion in this country a gratifying one. It is almost impossible to stay indoors or feel the slightest bit pessimistic with this weather. Still getting mounds of snow dumped on you? Still suffering from those freak ice storms? How are your Great Lakes looking? Still frozen? Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will thaw out eventually within the next 1-5 months.

Until then I’ll just continue playing in the blue-green surf and white sand of Manly beach. Or walking across the Harbor Bridge while soaking in picturesque views of Sydney Harbor. Outdoor concerts and Rugby games are also on the agenda so I’ll have to find time to squeeze those in…Anyways, I’m sure you can find something fun to do with all that snow besides turning it into gray slush. And all those unhappy people stomping around in the cold are just a bit frustrated – don’t take their harsh comments about hating your winters personally. It’ll pass in time. Eventually. It’s amazing how every Aussie I’ve encountered here is in the highest of spirits. That “no worries” lifestyle is definitely contagious; I could be left stranded in the outback without water while being simultaneously mauled by a snake and dingo, and my only concern would be whether I had put on enough sunscreen. I burn pretty easily.

But my insane happiness is besides the point. I hope you are doing just as well! I’ll continue to check in and keep in touch,

– Caroline

 

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We Need To Talk…

Time February 13th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dear America,

It’s not you, it’s me. We are just traveling in two different directions – I’m flying 10,000 miles across the world and you’re moving at a rate of about 1 inch per year. Yes, we have shared some great memories together, but I think it’s about time we put some space between us. The truth is that I’ve been granted residency to another country: Australia. With it’s golden beaches, rich wildlife, and no worries lifestyle, I just haven’t been able to get this incredible continent out of my mind. Not even the 22 hour flight can deter me from setting off to Sydney this Saturday, February 15th.

I truly hope we stay in touch, America; there is just too much history between us to abandon our connections completely. I wish you all the best in these next few months. Between trips to the beach, sightseeing excursions, and outback explorations, I’ll think fondly of our time spent together.

Take care. Sincerely,

Caroline

*Disclaimer: This post excludes anyone and everyone in Winston Salem, North Carolina – a piece of me is still there.

 

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