Feeling Happy

Letter 126

Happiness isn’t talked about enough, and right now I’m feeling really happy, so I wanted to write about it. I want to write about finding the happiness in the stressful times, or finding the rainbow in a cloudy day.

Something crazy seems to be happening to me. Only a couple of days ago I was sat in the studio, working until 2am getting everything done before my review. This is typically the most stressful day in an architecture students life, but for this particular review, I didn’t feel stressed at all. I don’t know whether this is due to my good time management, confidence in my work or enjoyment in my project, but I felt really happy. My happiness was further elevated by the review going incredibly well and being personally praised by my tutors for my work, which of course feels great.

In the last 2 and a half years of university my emotions have been all over the place. I’ve had some unfortunate things happen in my life which have effected my happiness dramatically but I’ve also had very mixed feelings about my course. Sometimes I’ve completely hated it and felt like I could drop out. The stress has had me on the brink of tears more times than I can remember. I’ve been frustrated with people I’ve worked with and suffered bad reviews from tutors and felt like all the work was a waste. This semester everything seems different. I’ve now technically ‘stepped up’ a year as most of my year are on placement and I’m now in the year above. I was so nervous about this at the beginning of the semester, but 5 weeks on and I feel it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. The year is full of lovely, talented students and the atmosphere among everyone feels different somehow. I like it. I find myself enjoying my work and striving to do more just because I want to.

I feel happy.

I’ve just taken a 2 day break from work to give myself a rest after the review and I feel like I’ve recuperated and I’m ready to get back to it. I’ve spent some lovely quality time with my boyfriend, enjoying the beautiful wintery weather in Edinburgh, relaxing watching films and eating good food. Even the little things like doing washing and cleaning have made me feel happier and like my life is together. I’ve organised the week ahead in my diary which includes going home to see my mum and best friend which I’ve been very excited for. I plan to get lots of work done this week (which is a week off from university) and get ahead with everything.

The thought makes me even happier.

With every day I get closer to the end of my degree which is now just 11 weeks and 3 days away. Just 80 days until it’s over and I intend to work as hard as humanly possible to ensure I am happy with myself by the end of it. I want to leave university knowing I’ve done my absolute best and have a portfolio that I’m proud of.

Then I get to jet off and do the thing that makes me happiest which is travelling, and in about 5 weeks I intend to book some flights. That will definitely give me something to look forward to. I will definitely book a flight to Germany, probably making Berlin my first stop to see my friend, and then one back from either southern Germany or Austria. I’m then going to Greece with mum, which thankfully is already booked, and then heading off somewhere for a few days with my best friend (wherever we can find that’s cheap). It’s going to be a good summer, I can feel it (and that will literally just be May and June).

I just wanted to share my current state of happiness because I feel like people are quick to notice and write about when they are sad or stressed, but neglect to celebrate when they’re happy, even about small things.

Hope you’re all having a happy Monday and a good February.

Much Love,

From Lou

About Me

 

 

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Random thoughts of a 20 year old architecture student

Letter 124

My life currently revolves around google sketchup, training my hair to last 3 days between washes and the decision of having 1 or 2 jacket potatoes. Riveting I know.

montenegro bobotov kuk hike 5

Where I’d rather be – Bobotov Kuk, Durmitor, Montenegro

January seemed to disappear in a flash to me – contrary to other people saying it’s dragged on for ages. I’m going into the 4th week of my final semester of university and so far it’s going very quick. What does that really mean? Well, it means that I only have 2 weeks until I have 1 week off, then only 7 weeks left after that. 9 weeks of “teaching” left. The “” are because I have about 3 and a half hours of contact per week. After my week off, this reduces to 1.

lisbon pateis de nata

The thought makes me as happy as I was here, in Lisbon, with my Pasteis de Nata

It also means that I have less than 14 weeks till my final deadline on the 10th of May. Considering the past 3 weeks have gone in a flash I don’t think the next 14 will take long to come and go.

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That makes me as happy as I was when I realised my true calling in life – a goat whisperer

The most important thing this information signifies is that in 14 weeks I can jet off without a care in the world and enjoy some well deserved travelling. I cannot wait.

Kefalonia Walking along the beach

The only travel that is confirmed is a holiday to Greece with my mum – it will be about 14 years after this photo was taken on the island of Kefalonia (I believe)

January was also a pretty nice month. It began in London, visiting my boyfriend’s brother which was followed by a beautiful trip to his home in the highlands. The weather was kind and it was stunning.

lochcarron

January in Lochcarron

I then started university which, as I took a different degree path to the majority of my year, put me into a group of people I didn’t know. A brief moment of hesitation when I worried that it would be miserable was quickly got rid of as I met my new year and made friends quickly. My little design group are really nice and we’ve spent the last few weeks developing our project which is set in the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, Portobello.

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Snowy beach in Edinburgh

Although my course is hard, demanding and sometimes stressful, I’m feeling very calm at the moment. I’m trying my best to stay on top of work and doing as much as I can to make the next few months easier for myself. I feel good. What I thought would be the hardest semester of my life has actually, miraculously, turned into one of the nicest. I’m excited about my project and am looking forward to seeing it through.

berlin street art courtyard 3

One of the biggest inspirations for my project – Haus Schwarzenberg, Berlin

I’ve also been seeing a little more of my friends as I’m really trying to make an effort with them. I’m not great at staying in touch with people, even if they live down the road, but I’m trying. Had a great pool and cider sesh with one of my best friends last week and it was wonderful to relax. Other than that I’ve pretty much been working 24/7 mixed in with watching friends and eating too much cake with my flatmate.

lagos 6

From Portugal to Edinburgh student union – it’s always fun

I can see I will miss this life when I leave uni. Hopefully I will still be able to keep most of it up but I will probably either be working or travelling which may make it harder. I’m not that worried, honestly I can’t bloody wait.

dubrovnik old town 7

I can’t wait to get exploring again – this mini exploration is from Dubrovnik, Croatia (one of the only places I saw here that was without people)

February will be a good month. The next 2 weeks are leading up to our mid term review so they will be busy but good. Then I will be celebrating Valentines Day (a day late) with my boyfriend by going to one of my favourite restaurants and hopefully going bowling at some point (haven’t done that in ages!). I’m heading home for a few days towards the end of February to see my best friend and go for a nice afternoon tea, and I’ll get to spend some time with my mum which will be lovely. I really can’t wait to go home for a bit, it’s be a nice break (combined with some work).

Ravenscraig Castle view

More quality time is needed with this one – photo from Kirkcaldy on my birthday last year (April)

So 2018 has got off to a pretty good start. Hopefully that means the rest of the year will be good too.

Hope you’ve all had a happy and healthy January.

From Lou

About Me

A question of belonging

Letter 120

As a traveller I have questioned what it means to belong somewhere and whether travelling inhibits our ability to belong. Psychotraveller recently made a video (here) on the subject and was very negative about it, so I wanted to share my take on it. She titled it “I don’t feel like I belong anywhere anymore” and spoke about how travelling has distanced her from having a home and she doesn’t feel she can make one anywhere because of language and culture barriers.

My old dreams

At just 13 years old, I dreamed of travelling. I would order brochures, buy books, search the internet, and plan out potential trips to the greatest detail (actually far more detail than I would ever plan a trip that I was actually going on now). My dream was to take a gap year and travel to Australia. I wanted to see everything and do everything. I was fascinated with Australia and even dreamed of one day relocating there.

Then my dreams changed. I didn’t want to ‘live’ anywhere. I just wanted to travel all the time, go everywhere and never stop. I had the biggest ambitions and was so confident that as soon as I got the chance, I would leave with no return in sight. Now, at almost 21 years old, and a few trips wiser, I have totally different dreams.

 

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Vintage Lou.

 

I have a home

As a child we moved quite a lot, not loads, but enough that I never felt I had a true ‘home’. I had no strong ties to any particular place because I was either too young to fully remember it or I hadn’t been there long enough. Coming to university completely changed my whole idea of ‘home’, and breaking all of the rules in my head, I found a home within a couple of months. Obviously, my 13 year old travel dreams changed and I decided to get myself a degree. I had always wanted to be an architect and I, and everyone who knew me, knew that if I took a gap year I would never come back. So I decided to do the degree first and travel later.

It was the best thing for me. Whilst the course is not what I expected and the past few years have been the toughest of my life, it has also showed me that I have a home. I have a home in the city I’ve fallen in love with, I have a home in the amazing friends I’ve made, and I have a home in my boyfriend who I met on my first day at university and has been my best friend ever since. I’ve realised that a home is not somewhere you’re born, or where your family live, it’s something you make for yourself.

I belong in Edinburgh, at home with my amazing friends and in my favourite city in the world.

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I discovered my travel style

Long gone is my mind set that I want to book a flight out and leave with no return in sight. Plans change and being at university has shaped the way I travel and how I wish to continue travelling. Over the last 3 summers I’ve squeezed in some incredible experiences that have shaped me and taught me more than I could ever learn in university. From volunteering in Greece to staying in my first hostel alone. Flying to the states to discovering a love for working with children with special needs. Learning a language to hiking up to 2,500m. I’m so proud of what I have achieved between university years in what I used to view as an annoyingly restrictive amount of time.

I don’t feel that anymore. I’ve realised that 2-3 months is an ideal trip length for me and it’s how I continue to plan trips and travel. I like to travel slowly and really get to know countries or regions and am not about the whistle-stop-tour life. Now that I’ve found a home where I belong, I have no intention of giving it up.

montenegro durmitor hike 3

New Plans

After 3 years of university, where I’ve worked harder than I ever knew possible, I want to travel. Whilst I know I belong in Edinburgh with the people I love, I also belong out in the world travelling. I am happiest with my backpack in places I’ve never been before talking to people I don’t know. I cannot wait to have the freedom to travel whenever I want to. However, I plan to firmly keep my base in Edinburgh and alternate home with small trips that will allow me to slowly travel around the world.

A Question of Belonging

I feel that over the last few years I’ve discovered so much about myself (in the non classic-spiritual-backpacker kind of way). I’ve found my home and friends where I belong and I’ve also confirmed what I always knew about myself – that I belong out in the world travelling. Who says I have to choose? I’m determined to have both and will work hard to achieve it. I’m a firm believer in choosing happiness over everything else and now I’ve found the life that makes me happy, I will ensure it sticks.

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This is a bit of a babble letter but I hope it’s proves interesting. Who knows?

Lots of love,

From Lou

About Me

PS. What do you think about travelling and belonging?

Bad at blogging and missing Montenegro

Letter 111

I’m pretty certain I’m one of the worst bloggers out there. Honestly, I’m not even sure I can call myself a blogger. Maybe I can when I’m no longer suffocated by deadlines and restricted to spending most of my waking hours in the studio I’ll get better. Or maybe I just need a little inspiration.

It’s been over a month since my last letter, and when I say I’ve been busy, it’s an understatement. After a fantastic 4 month break from my debilitating course, my life is back to being clouded by architecture and honestly, I’m struggling. The workload is too full on, it’s much harder than previous years and I’m struggling to understand computer programs. My diet has gone to shit, I’m spending more money than I would like and I never have time to see my friends. But the real downfall? I’m not travelling.

I had a tiny spark of inspiration last night when I remembered a program that someone I met in Croatia was telling me about. It was about helping people in Eastern Europe learn English by having lots of conversations and getting to know them. I had a quick google and found myself lost in possibilities and for the first time in a month, I had some excitement in my mind. Although it’s shit now, this time next year I could be off helping people improve their English in Poland. I began to remember why I’m still putting myself through this – so that I can travel after.

So after a pretty positive crit (where tutors make themselves feel important by pointing out the flaws in our models) I feel a bit better about life. In just over 6 weeks I will be handing in my design coursework and shortly breaking up for Christmas. I cannot wait. Right now? I’m thinking about Montenegro. Easily my favourite country I’ve visited and one I’m dying to get back to. So For the last part of this letter (because I’ve been unable to get some posts out about Montenegro) I thought I’d give you a taster of the land of the Black Mountains.

1 montenegro first impressions

My first impressions of Montenegro were from a bus on a boat. New experience and beautiful views to go with it.

3 montenegro kotor cats

If you visit Kotor you will definitely make lots of feline friends.

4 montenegro kotor streets

Whilst I saw many cobbled medieval old towns, I think this was the only one with a mountainous backdrop which was very beautiful.

6 montenegro kotor sunset

This view is one of my favourites I’ve ever seen.

7 montenegro skadar lake

Boat trip with a great crowd on the lake that sits in both Montenegro and Albania.

 

8 montenegro bar lagoon

Freezing cold lagoon hidden behind Stari Bar.

9 montenegro stari bar

Stari Bar is an underrated town with an incredible hostel.

10 montenegro ulcinj town

The old town of Ulcinj was silent and unexpectedly lovely.

11 montengro zabljak mountain

This is what +2,500m looks like in Montenegro.

12 montenegro black lake

The Black Lake in Zabljak – perfect for a swim after 8 hours of hiking with 10 companions.

13 montenegro walking

The moment I stopped to realise how lucky I was to be in this great country.

I’m hoping to be writing full letters about all of the places I visited and experiences I had but I just don’t have time. I will try to prioritise more now and get these letters written because I love reliving it and you need to know how awesome Montenegro is!

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

From Lou

About Me

 

 

 

Alive again

Letter 91

Finally it’s over. Months of hard work, weeks of long days and a number of sleepless nights. Architecture is not a healthy subject to choose and this year has been a killer. Despite half loosing my mind at the end and putting in more time and effort than ever before, I feel I managed it well. Seeing my classmates sleeping at their desks, surviving solely on energy drinks and having to submit late due to rushing at the end made me realise how well I’ve done. So I’m proud of myself and I want to share that with you guys.

I am not one for nights later than 11 or living on fast food and redbull. Instead I focused hard all year on keeping up with work and therefore only had to slightly step up the intensity at the end. Frankly, some of the hard core architecture students have done better work than me and will get better grades, but I’m content. I knew there was more I could do but I refuse to make myself ill just to get one more drawing done. What I’ve done is enough and I’m confident that I’ll at least pass.

I did have a few dramas towards the end. Exactly 1 week before my final deadline, the day before my history exam, when everything was going swimmingly, my laptop died. My bad luck was almost comical – I mean it couldn’t have held out for one more week?! This would have been the perfect time to freak out but after some quiet anger, secret tears and a chat with my mum, I realised that it could be worse. I first tried to get it fixed, which failed. My beautiful, expensive, extremely powerful laptop, that was only 2 years old, was fried. Then I toyed with the idea of using the university computers to finish my work and quickly concluded that this was not an option due to the late hours I’d need to put in. So I spent an afternoon with my boyfriend learning laptop lingo and choosing a suitable device, and then shelled out £600 so that I could finish my course. Pretty stressful 48 hours but everything worked out well in the end. Not a totally stress-free end to the year but I survived.

At the end, it’s all worth it. I designed a building that I’m proud of. The things I’ve learnt from my incredible tutor, along with the literature I’ve studies have influenced my work and will stick with me forever. My final presentation was something I felt proud of and I have achieved (mostly) what I set out to. I may not be the best architecture student, but I’ve done my best and made myself proud.

Now I’m putting it all behind me.

Since the second I finished I’ve been getting ready for summer. The countdown to jetting off was 1 week and now that’s down to a measly 3 days. Not only do I have to finish gathering things for my 2 and a half month trip, but I also have to pack up all of my stuff to go into storage and do my part of cleaning the flat. Pretty busy week. So far I’ve sorted all my stuff and began packing, washed a ton of things ready for storage and deep cleaned the bathroom, oven and fridge. It’s been a fun few days. (Not even joking, I love cleaning.) I’ve also had a lovely catchup with a good friend of mine who will be going home to Vienna today and then studying in Copenhagen next year. Can’t wait to visit! I’ve caught up on sleep and my body is slowly un-tensing and I can feel my mind returning to its normal state.

Did I mention I was flying out in less than a week? Oh yes, in 3 days actually! I am beyond excited and can’t wait to get travelling again, what I’m always dreaming about doing. I completely live for my summers and this one will be particularly special and different. Everything for the first month is booked because it’s mainly holidays with friends and family, and after that I have free reign! From Wednesday the 17th you can expect posts about Spain, including Nerja, Malaga, Cordoba and Seville. That’s only 2 weeks of my trip, there’s lots more to come after!

I hope you’ve all been well, sorry for my absence on here but that’s all about to change and I’m so excited for the next few months! I’m alive again!

Happy travels!

From Lou

About Me

2 Months, 2 Countries!

Letter 80

Let’s have a catch up? We’re already 6 days into March, which I can barely believe, so I thought I’d do a recap of the last couple of months and talk about what March may have in store.

Being at university means I can’t travel as much as I’d like to, but I am pretty proud of myself for managing to visit 2 countries this year already. Back in January I spent a week in one of the most unique countries in the world, Iceland, and then just last week I returned to Edinburgh after 10 days in Italy, one of my favourite countries. Both trips have been incredible and have kept my itchy feet at bay, but now I can barely contain my excitement for the summer.

Check out my posts from the last couple of months if you wish:

Letters from Iceland   |   Letter from Italy

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One of my favourite spots in Iceland – Thingvellir Park

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The beautiful riverside of Turin, Italy

University

Right now I am snowed under in deadlines. University life isn’t all the fun and games they made it out to be. Last week I handed in a big design project and on Wednesday I have a deadline for a history essay, plus a presentation to do. Busy busy busy. On top of all of this we have our main design project running through all the way up to Easter which I really need to get cracking on. The next month is going to be one of the busiest of my university career so far and it upsets me to say I have no real plans for March. It will be a boring month compared to the last 2, but I will very much look forward to April when things start to slow down a bit and I get a few weeks off to go home and do work and revision.

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University may be tough right now – but at least I get to live here

Summer Plans

My plans for this summer are coming along nicely and soon I’ll be able to start booking stuff. I will find out when I actually break up for summer today so then I can decide when to jet off! I can’t wait to tell you all about my plans, I am beaming with excitement! I only need to book 3 flights and a couple of weeks accommodation, which I’ll be spending with my boyfriend, and then a couple of months free reign where I will wing it and see where I end up! I can’t freaking wait.

March

As I said, March is going to be boring. Hopefully I’ll manage to do at least a couple of fun things in and around Edinburgh, but on the whole, boring. I suppose I’m due a month where I actually stay in one place, right?

Thanks for reading, let me know your plans for the next month! Anything exciting?

Happy March everyone!

From Lou

About Me

“Let your library be justified”

Letter 62

What if there was an infinite library containing every book ever written? All of the knowledge ever discovered? Would you want to explore every gallery, or remain in your comfort zone aware there is an an abundance of information around you?

This raises two problems.

“Those who imagine it to be without limit forget that the possible number of books does have such a limit. If an eternal traveller were to cross it in any direction, after centuries he would see that the same volumes were repeated in the same disorder.”

In this letter I would like to share with you a short story I recently read. It describes the universe as an infinite library, The Library of Babel, containing ever book ever written. The library is made up of hexagonal galleries with four walls of bookshelves and two doors connecting to other galleries. The galleries are endless. A big part of the story is about when people of the library realise that somewhere, in some hexagon, is the secret. One book containing the formula for the perfect life. They struggle for years, climbing to higher galleries and descending tragically to lower ones trying to find this book, or the supreme person who has read it. Of course, there really is no such book, or person.

“It does not seem unlikely to me that there is a total book on some shelf of the universe. If honour and wisdom and happiness are not for me, let them be for others. Let heaven exist, though my place be in hell. Let me be outraged and annihilated, but for one instant, in one being, let your library be justified.

The author shares his thoughts about how people live in their personal gallery. He explains that he was a traveller in his youth and explored galleries far and wide. To him, the library really is infinite and he will never read all of the books. He may die near where he was born, no matter how much he endeavored to travel. But at least he tried.

“Like all men of the Library, I have travelled in my youth; I have wandered in search of a book, perhaps the catalogue of catalogues; now that my eyes can hardly decipher what I write, I am preparing to die just a few leagues from the hexagon in which I was born. Once I am dead, there will be no lack of pious hands to throw me over the railing; my grave will be the fathomless air; my body will sink endlessly and decay and dissolve in the wind generated by the fall, which is infinite. I say that the Library is unending.

Of course, The Library of Babel is not a library. The Library of Babel is the universe. The library is unending. The books contain the greatest knowledge you could ever hope to discover, and the more you travel between the galleries, the more you will understand. I think the galleries are countries, or cities, or villages. The books are the people you might hope to meet on your travels. It’s not the places you gain knowledge from, at their core they are almost identical. It’s the people and the journeys between the places that are the biggest education.

Most importantly, it doesn’t matter how you chose to live, how much you travel, or how much you learn. Your library is justified. Your universe is justified. 

This book prompted me to think about my library. I aspire to live my library travelling between galleries and reading as many of their books as I can. For me, I don’t need to visit every gallery in this infinite library. I just want to leave each one knowing I have read all of it’s books.

“Let your Library be justified.”

From Lou

About Me

 I read this book because I am currently working towards designing a library on my course. I came across the title and thought it may be relevant. It’s influenced my design no end and I thoroughly enjoyed it’s messages.

I hope you enjoyed this letter. If you would like to read this short story you can find a link below. It’s called ‘The Library of Babel’ and is written by Jorge Luis Borges.

LINK TO PDF

How will you live your library?