I had the 27th to spend at home (in my cozy dorm) before jetting back to London to see El Senor! After lost luggage and confusion, we took a 3am bus to a small airport near campus to fly to Amsterdam to spend New Year’s 🙂
This Christmas I was incredibly fortunate to spend it here with a friend and her family. They live out of town in a beautifully rural area that I refer to as ‘Austen Land’. I don’t have many photos from the holidays since I was busy having fun cooking, playing card games, and enjoying being with wonderful people.
They welcomed me into their home for a few days, and then I felt like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because I was surprised with a chocolate bar and a ticket to a Norwich City Football Club game on Boxing Day (Dec 26) – they’re in the Premier League 🙂 It was a great game and a great few days.
Pre Christmas-ness in London-town with the bestie! :
Ceiling in one of the rooms in Kensington Palace
On the train after shoving our way on to an overcrowded cabin to Oxford
This should be self-explanatory…
If you didn’t know, Oxford is effing beautiful
So it was stupid early, two days before Christmas and we got stuck in a bus depot for 6 hours. Stupid faces were bound to be taken.
Obviously we had to take more than one to ensure we had our impersonation of Grumpy Cat
London Tower. Tower of London? Something like that. With awesome innards.
Hyde Park and it’s awesome Christmas Market
What would a Christmas season be without going shopping – at Harrods!
And of course we had to have afternoon tea. Duh. (or in her case, a latte)
Kensington Gardens from a different floor of the palace.
Snow falling outside my dorm.
Part 2 – of awesomeness!
A view of part of the campus a few days later
Just outside my building (the library is to the right)
Back stairs up to the library. This was fun to walk up, ha. (True though, waaaaay better than when it started to melt and was just icy)
Other than that it’s business as usual. Winter break felt too short as it always does. Classes have started. I got 2 out of 3 of my grades back. Not happy in the slightest, but at least I’m passing. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) I do really well on this final paper to average out to a decent semester grade.
This semester is already intense. I’ve talked it over with friends and there is definitely more of a ‘being thrown to the wolves’ mentality this semester. But it’s to be expected, and to some extent I think we all knew that. I mean it’s our usual class-load (or module-load as they call it), but on top of that we have to prepare (and pre-preparation, stress over) to sit for our final exams all the while figuring out our dissertation topic and question. It’s a lot, and it feels overwhelming at times. But it’s also really fun.
This semester I’ve got:
Last night we had our Ed&Dev bi-weekly meeting. We talked exclusively about dissertations because well, it’s dissertation time. And thus the mix of anxiety and excitement grew, and I accidentally broke one of my friend’s pen caps.
I’m excited, nervous, and a whole bundle of other things, but really, I’m grateful right now. Before grades start to be handed out and dissertation topics need to be officially submitted. Right now, I’m truly thankful. For what I’ve learned, the professors I’ve studied under, the amazing friends I’ve met, the places I’ve seen (and will go – Northern France to hang out with fam at the end of February, potentially Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, and beach in Spain for spring break, whaaaaaaat, haha).
I may not always feel like I belong here, or deserve to be here, but right now it’s okay. Right now I can be calm and just focus on the next 7 months.
(sorry for the vent session but I had to get this one)
I have never been an extrovert. I have never been a good public speaker, good in groups of people. I’m not good at having my own voice. I’m not good at holding conversations when I feel inferior to the person, and I absolutely feed inadequate when speaking with professors.
Especially here. Especially now.
I’m not entirely sure how I got into grad school right now. I just feel really out of place. And not just that, but completely inadequate. I feel like every professor thinks i’m an idiot. I feel like I’m constantly fighting to not come off as an idiot. Everyone I know has found someone in the department to click with and I’m just here.
The socially disabled girl, hoping she’s not making a complete ass of herself.
Honestly, there are days that I regret my decision to go to Sri Lanka. Not Sri Lanka itself, but that process. There are moments where I think back to how happy I was before with my great job, amazing friends, fantastic coworkers, nice apartment. Sure I had bills to pay but I also had money to have fun with. I enjoyed waking up and going to work every day. I truly think I had one of the best jobs out there. I was happier more at the ESL school than I’d ever been in any position.
And then I left.
And it was one of the scariest fucking decisions I’ve ever made. I had been instilled with this idea that you needed a job. And here I had one, but not only that, one I loved. And I was leaving it? Part of me wondered if I was going nuts.
But if I hadn’t gone to Sri Lanka, if I hadn’t been open to it and the experiences that came from those 4 months abroad, I’m not sure who I’d be. Sri Lanka changed me. It changed how I saw the world. There is traveling and there is experiencing where you’ve traveled to. And sure, I loved Italy, I enjoyed Canada to the point of wanting to move to Vancouver… but Sri Lanka impacted me. It left a dent and it forever altered my perceptions, my ideas, how I live my life.
So while I have my regrets 10-15% of the time, the other 85-90% of the time, They say that fear is one of the most common deterrents. Personally, I feel like happiness can be. If you’re happy, how do you know when to challenge yourself? How do you know when to push? In some aspects, I think it’s easier to change your life when fear facing you, than when happiness is primarily because there is always that little voice in the back of your head wondering if this new experience will make you just as content. And I honestly don’t know if it does for everyone.
I just lucked out. You can’t really compare happiness with life-altering. It’s like apples and oranges.
Happiness is surface layer. Life-changing hits you at the pit of your stomach and leaves you on your head.
Today, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
*subject is a song title by The Deftones
I’ve always been a Negative Nancy. You give me a positive situation and I guarantee I can find something wrong with it. It’s not a personality trait I’m proud of by any means, and it is something I’ve had to consciously work on. However, I feel like grad school almost caters to this type of personality.
It’s like an unspoken rule that your time as a student is divided between taking study time to watch bad TV, actually studying, eating/sleeping/showering, and commiserating with peers about the workload/upcoming dissertation. It’s as if for every 1 hour of actual studying, there are 2 or 3 hours of complaining about how much there is to do.
And it’s not because we don’t like the topic; on the contrary I feel like I’m enjoying these classes more than any in my undergrad – with exception to math classes with Professor R because he was such a great teacher it was like he almost dared you to hate math. But you really have to love what you go to grad school for; people don’t just say that to weed others out.
My post-grad studies thus far have been challenging, and they push students. There are no textbooks, there are required readings for some classes while some are more relaxed about “required” vs. “suggested”. You are self-taught, and for someone like me, this idea of motivating myself would be torturous if I was studying anything other than what I am (doing). The lectures are there for structure and to enhance the reading not to fill in the blanks where the reading was lacking or where there were questions. I found this out fairly quickly by being told some variation of that point blankly.
The point of all this is that I’m happy.
Even if I complain about how much there is to do in such a small window of time.
I’m really really happy.
There is no ‘but’ from my inner Negative Nancy.
I’m off to go work on some things since there’s a bit due within the next week/ week and a half including a non-assessed report, an essay, an article review, and an outline/rough draft of a research proposal that’s final draft is 100% of my grade.
Things are going alright. Last week there was a lot of baking going on: two days of back to back cooking with friends, which was awesome! I’ve been trying out new recipes and even made myself some dairy free chicken tikka masala.
This weekend is going to be jam packed with work though. Finishing up two assignments, working on a third. So far I’ve learned a lot and it’s only been a month!
For example, in academic writing here, contractions shouldn’t be used. Did you know that? I did not!
I’m slowly getting more comfortable in the social aspect. While I may be good at handling change, adjusting to new environments from a social aspect has always been a challenge. But I’ve met some great people and made some really good friends thus far. Now when it comes to speaking with peers about school related topics and in class… I’m still not 100% comfortable. But I think that has more to do with my own feelings of inferiority, since I didn’t come from a well known school, and all my experience is either volunteer or professional – no academic experience in this field whatsoever. However, like I said, it’s slowly but surely getting easier.
I’ve started making this room my own. I had pictures printed, my desk is a mess (much like at home), and I bought a cute duvet set (Sharks colors, whaaaaaaa?! – okay that comes off a lot funnier in person)
At the end of the day, one month in, the semester almost half gone; tomorrow is week 5 of 10, can you believe it?!
And that is all.
Now off to do that research.
(pictures of baking below)
I feel like I should be posting more. Updating everyone on what’s going on, but really there isn’t much to write about. I’ve made some friends, I’m taking classes, I’m trying to find jobs/volunteer/intern opportunities that align with what I’m studying. But it’s not glamorous, it’s not this end all be all trip.
It’s not a trip, it’s school.
Here, when you enroll, you pick all your classes for the year if you’re full time (part time is different, I think). It’s good because you know exactly what the plan is for the year, and so it complements my inner-planner. But it’s definitely odd getting the hang of it within a couple weeks and making sure nothing overlaps.
My schedule is good though, and I think I’ve planned out my year fairly well.
Also, in April / May I’ll have my examinations for my (2) mandatory courses and theoretically I’ll be writing my masters dissertation from April / May until August.
In the back of my head I’m contemplating retaking the GREs and applying to Ph.D programs for next year, but we’ll see. It’s still kind of early. Sort of – most programs have a deadline of December 1.
Some things will never change, haha.