Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Pre-Departure Musing

Hello.

I’ve sat down to write my first entry for this blog many times in the past 13 days that I’ve been home for winter break, and somehow not done it each time. Lately it seems that I have become “Champion Of Avoiding Any And All Things That Give Me Even The Least Amount of Anxiety” and “Winner of Putting Too Much Pressure On Myself For Things That I Could Just Be Totally Chill About.” Anyways, here I am, at 12:31 a.m. in my current time zone (New Hampshire, USA), only 3 days left before I leave to study abroad in Ireland (where it is currently 5:31 a.m. – I’ve been converting to Ireland time in my head every time I look at a clock for the past few months) – subsequently, Happy New Year, everyone.

Back when I first applied for an IFSA-Butler blogger position, I went in and read a whole bunch of postings by previous and current bloggers, but I haven’t done so since. I want to make sure that I really sound like me when I’m writing (how cliché), especially since I’m on the new official LGBTQA blogger team, so I have avoided going back and reading some more. This has added to my trepidation in writing this first blog entry, but here I am, with no idea what I’m doing (a common theme), and oodles and oodles of informality. In any case, I’m “structuring” this first entry as a kind of introduction of myself, of where I’m going, and what I hope to be doing.

I go to school at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I am a Junior. My major is Sociology and my minor is Women’s and Gender Studies. For the past year, I have been a student intern at the F&M Alice Drum Women’s Center, and I get to do things ranging from hanging posters and writing press releases for upcoming events and speakers, to organizing our huge messy closet space. The things I get to do and the people I get to be with and meet and the social activism I get to be a part of through that internship are going to be some of the biggest things I will miss while abroad.

Besides school-related stuff, I love reading (anything and everything), writing poetry and journals, listening to music (again, anything and everything), drawing and making things and art-ing in general, spending as much time as possible with animals, binge-watching shows on Netflix, browsing through Goodwill for hours looking for weird old clothing to love and reconstruct, hanging out with my friends, and spending a ridiculous amount of time on Tumblr.

I’ve kept that personal Tumblr blog for little bit longer than 2 years now, so I feel as if I’ve grown pretty comfortable writing about myself and my queer identity. I’m excited to do that here, as I have way more people, including my mother (who I somewhat came out to this summer- Hi Mom), who I know personally in “real life” who will be reading it. I’m excited to share this with all of them, but also nervous. I’m okay with going into specifics on what I mean when I say I’m queer: I am bisexual, which to me means that I have felt/feel attraction of some kind to people of all different genders. However, I also jive a lot with gray-asexuality and gray-romanticism (I’m putting links below). I am mostly female-identifying, but I have a genderqueer identity as well (again, linked below). In any case, my overall most preferred term is queer – when I first really heard it and considered it as a label I could have for my own, it was last spring semester in a wonderful queer literature class. It felt amazing, it fit so much, and that is so much more than I can say for any other category I have tried to fit into in the past. All of this is a jumbled mess even in my own head, but I have great friends and support, especially at college, in just letting me figure out what I want and what I like and what I need. I’m anxious but also really looking forward to seeing how this all plays out with different people and a different place.

It was kind of a struggle at first to choose where I wanted to study abroad. I always knew that I really wanted to do it, but I never knew if it was going to actually be possible. My mother studied abroad in Belgium for an entire year when she was still in high school, so I grew up with the idea that that was something I could maybe get to do always in the back of mind. My mother is fluent in French and started teaching it to me and my brothers when we were still quite young, and I have continued taking it in college, so I always thought that I would go somewhere French-speaking. However, once I declared my major and my minor, none of the programs in French-speaking places really seemed to fit with my idea of what I wanted to learn and study while abroad. I spoke to the head of the WGS Department at F&M, and she told me about the programs and places that some of the other minors and majors had done in the past. I spoke to some of them, and really fell in love with hearing about the couple who had done programs in Ireland.

The more I have started to delve deeper into feminism and activism and social justice in the past few years, and how massively personally important all of those things are to me, the more Ireland really seemed to be the best choice. I am fascinated and horrified by and in love with learning about the intense role the Catholic church has had on the Irish people and Irish culture for hundreds of years; with the way it institutionalized oppression based around sex and sexuality and gender inequality. I want to know everything about that history, and it really seems like something I am going to be able to delve into at National University of Ireland, Galway, which is where I will be studying.

I’m not gonna leave out the fact that my Irish friend Sian is also one of the reasons that picking Ireland really started to seem like the best choice for me. Sian (who is from Dublin) and I became friends through Tumblr about two years ago, bonding over our mutual love for Sylvia Plath, The Beatles, the TV show “Supernatural”, our bisexuality, our feminism, and more. I have kept Sian in the loop throughout my application process, and we are solidifying our plans to meet; it all feels like a dream.

I’m really excited to see how my journey through queerness and self-discovery will be influenced to grow and change and evolve over my time spent abroad. For now, however, I’ll be focusing on the Tetris-like game of fitting everything into my suitcase. I’ll write soon.

Links

Gray-Asexuality: http://www.asexuality.org/wiki/index.php?title=Gray-A_/_Grey-A

Gray-Romanticism: http://www.asexuality.org/wiki/index.php?title=Gray-romantic

Genderqueer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer

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