You know, it’s pretty self-indulgent and arrogant when people deem their lives momentous enough to document the actions and events of their days. If you take a personal diary, for instance, I suppose you could say journaling is a way of expressing our ‘inner feelings and deepest secrets’. In my opinion, it’s a way of making our lives seem more important than they really are, because we are desperate to concrete memories, to lay out a path of past events so we can look back in fond recollections…sheesh, this is starting to sound like my theatre history essay for Krapp’s Last Tape. Anyway, I digress, I meander, I veer off… I look at my argument above, I process it, I know why I feel that way about memories and the documentation of them, and I fucking throw it out of the window, because the past few months of my life have been the most enlightening rite of passages in ways I could have never predicted or anticipated. My whole life I’ve always searched for inspiration, total self awareness, ecstasy…things of that nature. I’m hungry for creating something completely of this world; I can’t even fathom what that something is or what it entails, but that’s the mystery and beauty of my drive. In addition to all of that mumbo jumbo, I’ve always admired England—pretty much everything about it. I had this image, this romantic, idealistic image of me walking down the streets, cigarette in hand, clicking shoes since I walk so damn hard, soaking in the city through every one of the fives senses. This image had to become my reality, thus igniting the sparks of my love for England. My worst enemy is wading in stagnant waters, going through daily routines of expected productivity; it’s amusing that I have this fear, because I’ve never truly fallen victim to it. Being at SMU has opened so many doors for me—I’ve discovered my love for playwriting, I’ve made not just friends, but family, and I’ve grown in ways I’m not particularly good at articulating (that’s fun to say, isn’t it?) When the whole STUDY ABROAD idea became within actual reach, I hesitated to let myself wholly fall into its arms. There were concerns about missing out on a semester at SMU, risking my relationship (at the time), and being forgotten. Ha, that last one is hilarious, hilaRIOS. Excuse my moment of vanity, but Sammy Rios is not forgotten. And see? That was totally unnecessary, but I’m trying to be as honest as I can with this whole remembrance of BADA (because yes, that’s what this whole thing will eventually be about, I just like long ass introductions.) I remember the night before I left, I was having doubts about going—that right there is worthy of being shot in the foot, because this has turned to be the most supreme thing for me. I’m prepared to be unable to answer the question “What did you learn being abroad?” simply for the fact that I can’t accurately express it in conversation. I’ll try to here, I really will try. To put it plainly, BADA is theatre camp. It’s unlike most study abroad programs, where a university hosts your generally easy classes, you meet local students, and you have ample amount of time to explore the city/party your nuts off. Yeah I know I’m generalizing something I haven’t even undergone, but you have to understand the difference. We’re talking straight up theatre conservatory classes from 9-6 for 8 weeks, going home when it’s already dark, and continuing to do the work at home. Memorizing a million things at once, diving into serious character work, trying to deal with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion that anyone in theatre knows comes with the challenge. Now, there’s plenty of room for fun, and unfortunately I was late in the game experiencing that, because in addition this being the best time of my life, it was also the absolute worst. Let me reiterate and capitalize, THE ABSOLUTE WORST. Heartbreak to the extreme, let me tell you. I won’t go into major details about the situation, but I spent a good chunk sulking over affairs in America. I’ve said this before: I hate how much time I wasted being sad, but if that’s what it took for me to come out the other side completely shining, then it was worth it. People always say “Have no regrets” and it’s like, ok, that’s impossible, but in all actuality, you can’t, because things happen as they happen, and you will try to come up with your own reasons behind why they happen in order to ease your wary mind, but you’ll never truly know. It’s out of your hands. Life is going to occur whether you like it or not and it’s your responsibility to deal with it the most mature way you can. So, even though I had those moments of wanting to quit the program and fly back home, that’s simply how I felt at the time. I can’t regret it—I can realize how ludicrous it was, but I can’t regret it. Okay, life lesson with Sammy is over. Back to the program. So, you get thrown into a group of theatre kids, all with overbearing personalities, and you’re expected to coexist. I always take a long time to warm up to people, because I like to survey my peers and essentially let relationships happen as they may. It’s easy to coerce a relationship with a person; I tend to find that less effective. You have to sorta filter out the people you aren’t compatible with, so you don’t waste your time. That’s terrible, right? How can a person like me think that’s ok? But in the end, it’s unforced chemistry between people, survival of the fittest, AND in this business, it’s who you know. So maybe I do possess a crude outlook on friendships, but I’m able to say the friends I made in BADA are meaningful, they aren’t surface relationships, and that’s all I can ask for. One thing that has changed for me: being able to affect other people’s lives for the better while making it your own experience. I’m not sure that sentence entirely made sense. Let me try to explain: yes, I care about myself a lot, maybe more than most people care about themselves, but what right do I have to make that proclamation without knowing how much people care about themselves, thus proving HOW MUCH I CARE ABOUT MYSELF and how highly I take my own opinion. I am well aware of my strengths and weaknesses, I know how my heart works, I can be quite selfish. With that said, I care so much about people. Genuine care and interest. Being at BADA has only heightened that care, I’m able to put my needs aside in order to help someone and it’s out of the true wanting to help that person. It’s not for me at all and it’s an altruistic beauty. I know I can be a bitch sometimes, but it’s only out of tough love. I suppose you could say TOUGH LOVE is my motto in life. Tough, pure love. People will come in and out of your life and you have to be grateful for the time you have with them, and make it the best. Okay, life lesson number two done. Sorry, not trying to get all philosophical on you. Let’s talk about London. Life overseas, on all ends of the spectrum, differs on every level (that was redundant.) The city is effortlessly romantic, crowded with fast-paced individuals, an optimistic cynicism (ha, don’t ask me what that means), and has this uncanny knack for grabbing your heart. I know I’ll return to London. I know it won’t be same, because I won’t be with the same group of people, but the city will remain the same—it’s timeless in a sense. You don’t really notice too much construction; they’re not tripping ahead of themselves in order to have the best and baddest buildings that America seems to crave. Things I’ll miss: the importance of tea, digestives, the parks, Yumchaa, the pull switches for the bathrooms, the tube, EAT tuna melts, going to the lockers to refill my water bottles, getting 3 Stella ciders for 5 pounds, the muzzle dog in Regents, the entirety of Modern Physical, those two days of final showings of Shakespeare scenes/monologues, Waitrose brand pesto (a gift from above), the busyness of Picadilly Circus, the ice cream truck in front of BADA…the list could go on forever. I hate how sentimental I get, but I secretly love it. Passionate people are a double-edged sword and I don’t really think you can be in theatre without the sheer passion so it looks like we’re all in it for a lifetime of overwhelming emotions! Hurray! It’s why we do it though, aren’t I right? It’s bizarre: I maintain this feeling of closure just by writing this all down. It’s hard to process that last Friday night, I was with all of my newfound family and now we’re all scattered across the world again. It’s a tough thing to deal with, especially after the high of all of the shows going up and the wonderful gathering after Tristan and Yseult. I find myself trying to unearth a better word than bittersweet, but I’m not sure there is one. That night may be the one of the strangest nights I’ve ever had, and you gotta understand, I’ve had a lot of strange nights. I wonder though, am I being dramatic? I can only speak for myself about this program, but I have this inkling that everyone feels somewhat like this. There’s an emptiness in my heart for London, but at the same time it’s filled with the best memories. I sound like the biggest sap in the world, and you know what…I probably am, but I could fucking care less. I’m not one to hang on things or live in the past, and this won’t be any different. I’ve grown so much as an actor, a woman, a friend—I’m ready to take what I learned and kill it my senior year and continue to kill it my entire life, because I’m not afraid to say that I’m going places anymore. For everyone in BADA, I wish you the best of luck and you can always come to me if you need anything. And for everyone at SMU thinking about going to BADA, you are truly in for the paramount experience of your young adult life if you choose to make it that way. There’s a reason they even offer study abroad programs during college—it’s the best time in your life to go. Thank you to everyone, especially a handful of you and you know who you are, who committed themselves to this intense program.
Damn. I feel like I could write a book about this, but sometimes less is more, in the words of Chris Cook’s writing prompt.