If you know me, you probably know I am not one to eagerly step out of my comfort zone. I adore the idea of an incredible adventure, but I have never truly experienced great change in my own life. I would not say that I am afraid to embrace change, but I have found it easier to avoid change whenever possible. A grand change is coming, and I am learning to embrace it and run with it. On August 15th, I will make the easy journey (about 25 minutes from my house) to Wake Forest University to begin my college career. Three days later, I will fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, where I will spend the entirety of my school year with 16 other WFU freshmen.
You may be wondering what is enticing about Denmark. The truth of the matter is, I have wondered the same thing. As of approximately one month ago, I could not point out Denmark on a map if you asked me to. I did not exactly grow up dreaming of eating smørrebrød and riding a bicycle to class each morning. However, Wake Forest chose to create a new program to immerse incoming freshmen in world studies right off the bat. Denmark, ranked the second happiest country and one of the ecofriendly capitals of the world, was chosen as our new home, but I will also be building a foundation of world knowledge through European travel. I have study tours to Venice and Vienna, and field trips around Scandinavia each Wednesday instead of class. I am also provided with two weeks of free travel each semester in addition to holiday breaks. In case you are curious about the classes I will be taking (and they are nearly perfect) I will link them here!
Fall 2017: European Humanities-themed semester
- FYS 100. Competition, Cooperation, and Consumption: Issues of Social Networks and Social Participation (3h) **Fulfills first-year seminar basic requirement**
- SOC 151. Principles of Sociology (3h) **Fulfills Division IV requirement**
- INS 120. Danish Language and Culture (3h)
- HMN 213. A Sense of Place in European Literature (3h) **Fulfills Division II requirement**
- ART 198. European Art of the 19th Century (3h)
Spring 2018: Global Perspectives-focused semester
- COM 120. Introduction to Film & Media Aesthetics (3h) **Fulfills Division IV requirement**
- COM/FLM/WGS 370. Gender in Nordic Cinema (3h)
- REL 389. Islam in the West: Changes & Challenges (3h)
- ENV 301. Sustainable Development in Northern Europe (3h)
- POL 235. The European Game of Politics: Crisis and Survival (3h)
The limbo between high school and college is a strange time for everyone. For me, I have found myself completely and utterly bored. My great, life-changing adventure is so close, but still not here yet. This is also the first summer that I have not been researching in a lab for the past three years. I thrive when I am busy, so having time for myself is foreign to me. With boredom came a bit of sadness because when I am left with free time, I am left to think. So, I have decided to spend my summer reinventing myself. I created a list entitled “102 ways to better myself.” I am not using it as to-do list, but I refer to it for suggestions of improvements that I can make now to make my transition abroad as smooth as possible. I want to be able to depend on myself while abroad. I have to be able to depend on myself while abroad. This summer is dedicated to making the best version of Anna Jones that there can be. So, I started research of my own. My purpose is to determine how to be as happy as possible. Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy. I have an incredible life, and I do not want it to seem as if I am taking advantage of or complaining about it. I simply want to be able to know that I make the most of every blessing, every moment, and every opportunity that I have been given.
My research sparked with reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I have not finished it yet. To be completely honest, in the spirit of making my own happiness I have made a mistake. I have allowed myself to switch between several books to fit my mood of the day, so I am currently in the middle of The Happiness Project, Les Miserables, The Sun Also Rises, and I have yet to start my required reading How To Be Danish, which is probably the most important at this time. Anyways, in what I have read so far, Rubin reflects many of my own philosophies about life. She is not unhappy with herself, but she wants to ensure she lives her life to the full. As a result of my reading, I have embarked on my own “happiness project.” I am incorporating journaling, reading, exercising, and hydrating into my daily routine. Journaling has taught me so much about myself. Reading has granted me new outlooks on the world around me. Running clears my mind, and a clear mind makes every thing easier to accomplish. Hydrating may sound like it does not belong on this list, but I have found it is one of the most important parts of my daily routine. Water is life, in all senses of the phrase!!!
Over spring break of my senior year, I travelled to the Bahamas with friends. Amidst the never ending entertainment of the islands, I found a little life knowledge. When we were overcome by beautiful views or the excitement of the cruise, we would look at each other and scream, “I AM THRIVING!” Now, at home for the summer, without the obvious stimulus of tropical islands, I am learning to thrive in all aspects of life. To thrive is not just to live, but to prosper, to flourish. I am thriving by taking care of myself. I am thriving by learning about my world and preparing for the future. I am thriving by laughing loudly and often. I am thriving by trying new things, finding new music, and meeting new friends. I am thriving by singing all the time: in the shower, around the house, in the car, with friends. I am thriving by painting again. I am thriving by staying inside and watching all the movies I desire, but also reminding myself to go exploring outside. I am thriving by reinventing my health. I am thriving by spending every possible second with my friends and family. I am thriving by learning to love my whole self, and then loving others with my whole self. Most importantly, I am thriving by having faith and taking heart in God’s perfect plan for my future.
This summer is bittersweet. I dread saying goodbye to the people I love most in a few short months. I dread trying to pack a semester’s worth of clothes in a suitcase. I dread great things having to end for even greater things to begin. However, I know my God made me for more than I could ever imagine. In this unfamiliar time of my life, I am comforted by my favorite Bible verse – Hebrews 11:1.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”
I do not know the plans that my heavenly Father has in store for me. While it is hard for me to let go of control of the next year of my life, it is easy to hand my cares over to the one who knows me better than I know myself. Instead of worrying, I am sure in my faith, and certain in His unfailing love for me. I may be traveling halfway around the globe and leaving everything I know, but God’s love knows no country or time-zone. I am thrilled to experience even more of His incredible creation in just a few short months. I have the most lovely life, but I have a feeling it’s about to get a whole lot lovelier!