Across the Pond Pt. 1: Wash n’ Go
The fluorescent lights stung my bleary eyes while the gust from the sliding door sent shivers down my spine, which could barely support my limbs after 12 hours of travel.
Buzzing with confusion, my brain could not seem to locate a simple bottle of shampoo in the store we haphazardly settled on through google maps. While lamenting my 3-month loss of the wonders of Target, a promising small green blur caught the corner of my eye. Edging closer, a wave of realization of what I had just gotten myself into as I read: 2 in 1 Wash n’ Go Sport, £1. Gone were the days of my lengthy, luxurious Pantene washes henceforth. I took a deep breath as I gingerly removed the bottle from the shelf and trudged toward the cash register, my eyes struggling to stay open. As I dolefully stared at the little green thing progressing lifelessly on the conveyor belt, however, little did I know a pathetic bottle of shampoo would teach me the biggest lesson I needed to learn my first week studying abroad.
~Okay, enough of me attempting to make buying a bottle of shampoo interesting.
A screeching blare of ear-splitting madness emitted from the box in the ceiling, rousing me from a deep jet lag induced sleep. The fire alarms! I looked incredulously at the time on my phone: 3am. I groaned and stumbled in the darkness as I collected a few belongings and scuttled out the door, along with a few hundred other kids. We whined as it began to drizzle, and the night air penetrated the duvets with which we had tightly wrapped ourselves. Unfortunately, this trend would continue most nights for two weeks, going off as many as 6 times throughout a single night. As I returned frustrated to my room and slammed the bathroom door behind me for a nice warm shower, that little green bottle caught my eye again. Wash n’ go. That was what I really needed to do. Just wash off the day’s problems and start again. Inspired perhaps a bit too much by my moment of enlightenment, I emerged dripping from the shower and whipped out my journal, where I began brainstorming ways to “wash” so I could just reset and “go.” The next day, we were informed that the laundry facilities would not operate for the next few weeks. Frustration bubbled up inside me, but I remembered the little green bottle: reluctantly, I returned to my flat with my full laundry bag and began to “wash” my mind of my troubles with some worship music. Later in the week, I discovered the poor WiFi connection in my room made it almost impossible to do homework or contact my family. As I sought assistance to no avail, I sighed and grumbled “wash n’ go, girl” to myself and went to the library to stream a movie. Then I lost my water bottle on the bus. An exasperated “wash n’ go” escaped from my lips as I filled out a lost property form, then ate dinner and planned a fun weekend trip with friends (while drinking from a glass). I resolved to meet each problem that week with a good ol’ wash n’ go. Couldn’t get a counselling appointment? Wash n’ go. A jet-lagged friend was short with me or vice versa? Wash n’ frickin’ go. I couldn’t find what I needed in the grocery store? Wash n’ GO. The amazon locker to which I could ship a replacement water bottle to was full? Wash n’ go, dammit. Soon, I started to see that while difficult, my problems were not so big.
What I liked about this strategy is that it didn’t require me to be perfect or to always react in a favourable way, giving my perfectionist self a rest. It reminded me that life is not always good, no matter what other people’s Cute Study Abroad Pics™️ say, and that’s ok. I could be temporarily upset, which helped me pick myself up and get back in the “having fun abroad” game. Seemingly insurmountable trouble will inevitably come, but I know I can deal with it reasonably in a healthy way. And I am confident you can too. Wash n’ go spread your fucking wings, people!
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