In which she bends, bends, bends… and breaks.

I need my blog to not be a manifesto of the aimlessness of my mid-20s. I tweeted something to this effect the other day because I could feel the negativity pulling me downward and turning everything I wanted to write into extended essays on how and why my life sucks. That’s not my intention with starting this blog, which I’ve created to document my year as a graduate student in the UK, beginning with the months of preparation leading up to it. It stems from the simple fact that I regret not writing more about my time abroad as an undergraduate. Although it’s nice, in a way, to keep some memories to yourself, to have some part of your life secret and private, there are times when I wish I had a clearer picture of what it was really like.

I also have a tendency to remember things along some sort of artistic line — through a song, say, or through a photograph. These are more than memories or projections; these are the manifestations of a feeling and a sentiment, of a place, of a person. A face. An accent. A street. In this way The Verve’s A Northern Soul is not just an album I listened to a lot while I was in Brighton; it’s North Street. The bank I used to pass, with the one stone where young men (presumably) had scribbled in permanent marker “we are the mods” — the history of the Mods & Rockers that I wasn’t even there to see, the search for Quadrophenia Alley — the Subway I would pass that did not smell like any Subway in the United States. The concrete jungle lack of charm of this particular area, the darted runs across the street ahead of the buses. The music doesn’t conjure these memories; it is these memories.

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In which the drudgery continues.

The initial euphoria of being accepted into graduate school hasn’t quite worn off, but my brief resistance to the wear and tear and general shittiness of every day life has eroded. Reality has come crashing back down in the form of some proverbial overweight bird taking a watery dump all over my head.

It’s just that, well, there’s a large gap between accepting the spot and getting there. When I applied to study abroad my junior year (a process that began in earnest the year before), I experienced much of the same anxiety, but few of the headaches that confront me now. First, I was already a student. My tuition was paid to UNC, not Sussex, and it was covered by financial aid. I even received additional grant money from merit-based scholarships, and my dad took care of my housing. No visa was required (my stay was just under 6 months), no loans had to be taken out – really, the work was all in getting an expedited passport as mine had expired and then packing. Once I got to England, my aunt and uncle picked me up, let me stay with them for a couple of days, already had a PAYG phone set up for me, and drove me to Sussex when the residence halls opened. The transition, for all intents and purposes, was pretty seamless.

What an idyllic period that was, the happiest of my life, and how I’ve longed to recreate it. But I’m not the same person I was three years ago, and my circumstances are entirely different. It scares me how much I have at stake here, how much more I have to lose not only financially, but (more importantly) mentally and emotionally if this doesn’t go through.

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