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How I spent my last months before studying abroad

The countdown is on; I leave for Norway this Friday.

It has been a very busy month shopping for everything that I can possibly pack into two suitcases for life in Norway for the next five months as well as completing all of my administrative forms.

I found it difficult to find my type of winter clothing in styles I preferred — sorry, Disney, I don’t want Dumbo emblazoned on my chest. But if there is anything I have learned about shopping for cold weather in summer is that winter clothes are on sale everywhere. It is a life hack I am probably late to but I am always buying my winter clothes in summer now.

From Left to Right: Belle, my cat, helping me doing administration, new suitcases with personalised straps and shopping.

Alongside preparing for Norway, I have been spending a lot of my time with my family, friends and boyfriend. I met my boyfriend in my first year at Cardiff University and it is fair to say that we have not got sick of each other after two yeas of dating.

Our relationship has always encountered the problem of distance, with him living in Switzerland. But we have always made it work. He will be studying abroad for the next year so seeing each other in person for fleeting moments will be our toughest challenge yet.

After finishing the academic year, I went home with him to Switzerland for what would be our final week properly together for a while. It is a really tough situation and I cried more than I will ever admit to anybody that wasn’t at the train station the day I left. Long-distance to this degree will be a challenge but if there is one thing I have learned from dating my boyfriend, it is that we really do make a great team.

Rowing down the River Aare, Switzerland.

After returning from Switzerland, I visited friends and distracted myself with all of the things I needed to get done before the big move. Amongst this, I spent a few days with my sister and mum in Cheshire. It was lovely to have a few days off from thinking everything Norway. We visited Chester Zoo, the Trafford Centre and cried our eyes out at the live action adaption of Lion King.

Chester Zoo.

By being so busy, I knew nothing about the surprise going away party that my parents were planning for me.

When I entered the restaurant under the pretence that I was having a pre-birthday dinner for my aunt, I was incredibly awkward and confused when a group of people jumped up and shouted ‘SURPRISE!’ at my poor, short-sighted eyes. Family near and dear, some I had not seen for a while, had come to wish me luck for my upcoming travels. It was a truly wonderful night and I was touched that my parents planned it. For people who have trouble keeping secrets, they definitely kept this one quiet!

From Left to Right: My family, a going-away gift and my sister and I.

Perhaps, the one thing that really warmed my heart was the personally engraved bracelet gifted to me by my mother.

When I was first diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, I was told that my case was so severe that I would not be able to attend school anymore. Instead, I would be schooled at home by the hospital education service. I was told that it was unlikely that I would ever go to university due the severity of my conditions if I could not learn to manage them.

It is now 2019, I still have both conditions but I have worked tirelessly to manage them. Now, I am entering my final year of university and preparing to live in a different country for five months alone. It feels incredibly surreal.

I believed I could, so I did.

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