Thank you, Europe

Yes, yes, I know – I’ve been AWOL. MIA. Gone. Vanished – but really just awful at documenting my life. Since I’m sure you’re all pining for an Update on Shelby Mann’s Life: for those who don’t know, I’m not on my normal continent. I’m interning (and sort of studying) in Brussels for the semester. And I’m having lots of fun and never, ever want to come back. Farewell, U-S-of-A. It’s been nice living in you.

Since lots has happened, I will briefly describe my adventures and then eventually bombard this blog with pictures because pictures are worth a thousand words, yada, yada, yada.

Things that have happened:

  • I stayed out super late one night (returning to my apartment at 4:45 in the morning) because I was getting ~wasted~ with Angela Merkel. Only joking. But I did get home at that hour because of an EU Summit. Which was quite fun. I’m a fan. And I did see Angela. Sadly, we did not get drinks together. Maybe one day. *stares off longingly into the distance*
    • Also it was the latest I have stayed out all semester long because, obviously, I go HARD. But only at EU Summits.
  • I took a train to Germany, but didn’t realise I needed to get off at some point to get on a second train until Train Number 1 stopped, stood still for awhile, and then went back in the direction it came.
  • I’ve slept overnight in 2 airports of my own accord. I was not stranded. I did not have to be there. I was, however, trying to be as economical as possible.
  • I have learned public napping in Europe is fun. (This might make it into its own post – hoorah for napping!!)
  • I have watched the sun rise way more times than I ever anticipated.
  • I fell into an icy lake in a national park in Croatia while wearing a sweater.
  • I then proceeded to hike around said park in 3 pairs of socks for the remainder of the day because my shoes were very wet and tied to my backpack and therefore not on my feet.
  • I jumped off a cliff in my underwear while the sun was setting.
  • I have gone castle shopping in Prague and Budapest for when I rule the world (still deciding on where I want my headquarters to be).
  • I have consumed crickets and meal worms. (No, not “yum.”)
  • I have become a regular at a little bakery and a little sandwich shop by Reuters.
    • For breakfast: un cappuccino et un pain au chocolat.
    • For lunch: un sandwich salades andalouse et poulet avec paprika .
  • I am now well-versed in English (UK) spelling and have to force myself not to use “ou” (i.e. ‘favourite’) or “s” (i.e. ‘organisation’) when emailing people in the United States who probably won’t appreciate quote-unquote unnecessary UK spelling.
    • I tweet/Facebook/text my friends in English (UK). They probably do not appreciate it. I probably do not care.
  • I am now well-versed in military time.
  • I am now not well-versed in Celsius. I probably will not be any time soon.
  • I am, however, quasi-versed in typing on a French keyboard, which is “AZERTY” and not “QWERTY.”
  • I have learned that my English is, apparently, “quite good.”
    • (“Thank you?” I hesitantly responded.)
    • (This was in an encounter where the person did not know English was my first and only language and thought I was speaking English because I had to.)
  • I have also learned that, apparently, I look Norwegian. Because multiple people have asked if I am from Norway.
    • I am not from Norway.
  • I have officially visited my motherland – Poland.
  • I have confirmed having Polish blood does not mean having an innate sense of what any of the Polish language means. (If only.)
  • The number of countries I have been to with my best friend is now a lot.
  • On that note, I have made it to Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Croatia, the Netherlands and Belgium (duh, I’m living here). By the time I leave Europe I will hopefully have also added Luxembourg, Spain, Greece, maybe Portugal, and possibly Morocco (< not European).

I am inexplicably happy. I love Europe, I love my life, I love all the things I’m getting to do at work and just in general. I mean, I’ve gotten overtly happy about a salad. And orange juice. Granted the salad has grilled goat cheese, pears, nuts and maple-apple syrup and is from Le Pain Quotidien (never mind these are in the states. The salad I order is not). And the orange juice is single-ingredient and from the grocery store – it’s literally just oranges. I essentially make my own juice. The machine is full of oranges, you pull a lever, and then the juice from some oranges ends up in a bottle. It’s incredible. And acidic. Incredibly acidic.

So yeah, I’m just oozing happiness and it’s fantastic.

I’ve also adjusted quite well to “the working life.” In fact, I’m super intrigued to see what’ll happen come January when I’m primarily a student yet again. Reuters (where I’m interning) has been good to me. I adore everyone I work with and I adore the work I get to do. I’ve even made some friends with the Associated Press team, who I see decently regularly when going out on stories.

Each week, I have to turn in a memo discussing what I’ve been up to/what I’ve learned. Each week, my memo starts out along the lines of “I’m in love” (with Europe/Brussels). I have now tacked on “I’m in denial” (because I have a meagre THREE WEEKS remaining in my program). Someone hold me. *sobs*

I still have a year and a half left of school, and I have no idea where life will take me, but I’m hoping to the Great European Gods this is not my last longer-than-a-few-weeks excursion on this glorious continent.

2 thoughts on “Thank you, Europe

  1. John Mann says:

    I’m so happy my dear, sweet adventuresom fruitcake is out and about and doing stuff. You deserve the best and you’re obviously getting it!
    Love you, Grandpa

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