September is tomorrow. September is TOMORROW? SEPTEMBER IS TOMORROW! I’m not sure how August has flown by so quickly. Maybe it was all the work I’ve been doing on my research paper or maybe it was all the running around I’ve been doing trying to figure out the next step on this crazy journey of life. September is tomorrow.
I must apologise for leaving a blog entry for so long. The truth is, I have been quite busy finishing up my last assignment for grad school. It has been one of those things that I think I’m done and then I read it the next day and decide to totally change everything. Then I think to myself, yes, yes this is a good paper. Then I read it the next day and decide, actually, it would be better if the third paragraph were the second paragraph and the second paragraph were the fourth paragraph. Many a grad student has gone insane in the fateful waters of the grad school research paper triangle. I managed to break free of it about two weeks ago, but that is only because I refuse to read my paper.
So two weeks, Jen? Two weeks and still no blog entry?
Well, when you get to the end of a chapter in your life, sometimes it takes a lot of thinking, walking, and searching before you know what the next chapter is going to be. I got back from Amsterdam with a renewed sense of purpose. I’m pretty sure it was while I was sitting in the café at the Anne Frank House that I decided to do a PhD. Yeah, you read that right. It seemed really clear and I felt very strongly about the subject matter. In the next couple of weeks, I began reading everything I could and discovered to my delight that the leading researcher in the field I’m interested in was someone I had already exchanged a few emails with back in January. I got back in touch and after several more emails, eight or nine books, three meetings with one of my lecturers here and more writing, I submitted my application to the University of Leicester for a PhD in Museum Studies. If all goes according to plan, I should begin in January and will be in England for three more years. It’s not a sure thing by any means, but I think it is the next step for me.
Alright, so it sounds like you’ve got this all figured out. Wait….January? What are you going to do for the next four months?
So that’s a bit of a long story. Originally I thought about finding a flat in Durham, getting a part time job and putzing around until Congregation and then moving down to Leicester. Then I randomly bumped into a friend while walking to CrossFit. She’s an American as well, just finishing her MA in Archaeology and during our chat she mentioned that if we leave the UK after turning in our final paper we won’t be let back in as students. They will stamp our passports as tourists.
Well that’s fine isn’t it? A tourist can stay for six months, right?
Sure. The problem is I can’t apply for a student visa while I’m in the UK on a tourist visa.
So, don’t leave the country.
Well, I’m in a wedding the weekend after I turn in my paper and before you– who are you anyway?
I’m just an author’s trope providing an interesting dialogue-like element to what might otherwise be a really boring expository entry.
Oh, okay. I’m not boring.
No need to be defensive.
I’m not being defensive, just saying.
Okay. You done?
Yes…What was your question, again?
I said why don’t you just stay in the UK if leaving will cause you visa issues and then you said you were in a wedding.
Right, right. One of my oldest and dearest friends is getting married the weekend after I turn in my paper. I was devastated after I discovered all of this about the visa. I phoned the University Immigration Office to confirm everything, which they did and send a quick message to my friend back home. I felt terrible. Wedding planning is stressful at the best of times and I can’t imagine what it’s like when one of your bridesmaids send you a text that she may not be able to leave the country she’s in to make it to the wedding which is a month away.
Then I got a message back. She told me that she knew how important it was to me to be in England and that she wanted me to be happy. That I shouldn’t worry about the wedding and make a decision based on what I needed and wanted.
Now, I’ve been in many relationships where I have had to suppress my own needs in order to maintain said relationship. I have been badly taken advantage of and generally misused by more folks than I care to remember. Here was a friend telling me, you need to put yourself first.
I began to think about that. I thought about how she’s always been there when I needed her; how we’ve known each other since the fourth grade (I don’t remember meeting her in fourth grade but she insists and I believe her); how we are more like sisters now and her parents are like a second mum and dad to me. I remembered this past December when I was home and really going through a tough bout of depression. I remember going to brunch with her and crying in the middle of the pub and she gave me the biggest hug imaginable. Then I thought about some of the other “friends” I’ve bent over backwards to please only to be met with ungrateful and sometimes abusive words and actions. I decided right then and there that I had it all backwards. From that moment, I decided to bend over backwards for the people who genuinely cared about me and the rest, well, to hell with them. I messaged her and said I would be at her wedding because being there meant more to me than staying in England for four extra months. And truthfully, it does.
Wow. Sounds like you’ve had a lot of revelations in the past month?
I have, yes. It’s been really good but it really hasn’t been easy. Transitions are never easy. I remember this time last year I was going through some similar things. I had more certainty though. I knew I’d be in England for a year and I knew where I’d be and what I’d be doing. Right now, I have a general idea. I’ll be in the US for four months that much is certain. In January I’ll come back to the UK, that is certain, too. But as of now, I don’t know if I’m coming back merely to attend Congregation or if I’m coming back to start a three year adventure into PhD land. You know something, though, author-trope-voice-thing?
I’m starting to enjoy the uncertainties of life.