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Random Update: Thanksgiving and Social Progress

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I’m doing this so intermittently — but it is what it is. I have so little time these days that a blog post is a luxury I often can’t afford. I’ve been spending any blogging time lately making more political posts on my primary blog but I want to make sure I have some kind of record of this personal transition so I’m giving it a shot! This is largely for my own benefit but published here so friends can catch up if they like. 😉

So, things of note:

1) School is weird and awesome. I’m learning so much and, while I question how much I’m actually retaining because I’m trying to absorb so much so quickly, the basic tenets are definitely staying put. I feel much clearer on concepts like imperialism, colonialism and media representation (or lack thereof.) That alone is powerful and forms the root of the rest of the concepts I’m learning. The correlation between things is at the root of all of this and is becoming more and more apparent. I’m doing a LOT of reading and a LOT of writing. Thankfully the process of writing so many essays actually taught me a bit more about how to read an essay — what’s important, what’s filler/fluff. I’m reading faster and taking fewer notes. THAT is a relief. I have 3 more essays due in the next month and will get feedback on what I’ve already written soon. Curious to hear if I’m on the right track.

2) I haven’t unpacked yet, save for my clothes. All the boxes I shipped are still tucked away in the office. Partly it’s due to lack of time. Ultimately it’s a simple lack of places to put things once they’re unpacked. We’re going to redo the office (paint, get cabinets/shelves, etc.) but the kitchen needs to be redone as well and that comes first. It may be a few more months yet before I actually start really settling in. It doesn’t feel bad, though. I feel at home. My stuff isn’t around but I’m not feeling sentimental for it.

3) Socialness is interesting as well. I’m definitely older than the vast majority of my classmates but I keep getting shocked reactions when my age comes up in conversation. Apparently I’m getting clocked at around 24. (That’s the number I hear every time I ask.) It’s strange to be so much older than everyone and not be perceived as such. In some ways, it makes me more of an outsider than it would were I actually to appear my age. I clearly have a different mentality. When I ask people what they want to do, the answers range from non-committal to completely unknown. I’ve had the benefit of time to figure out a clearer vision, plus I’m paying three times what they are as an International Student so I’m definitely there to get my money’s worth. For this reason, I’m more outspoken than most (though certainly not all) of my fellow classmates in seminar sessions, I ask a lot of questions, and some folks have taken to sitting next to me because they know I’ve done all the readings – which is pretty funny considering what a TERRIBLE STUDENT I was the last time around. All this might be more readily understandable were I to seem my age, but I think I just come off as a really weird 24 year old. Being fat, I don’t fit into the fashion focus that is clearly a major commodity on campus and because I have to get home to start my work shift, I don’t hang around after classes and chat. The connections I’ve made with people have been very individual, often based on shared paths to public transit or smoke breaks or being caught up after a seminar to chat about something that’s been said. Still, folks are warming up gradually as we go and while I don’t feel a kinship with any of them on a deeper level, the growing pleasantries are starting to make classes and seminars more of a pleasure.

I’ve made some connection with a couple of seminar leaders and one of my professors. There’s a story behind that last one that’s pretty funny but not for public posting. I suspect it was a passing moment of a connection. She seems quite busy being radical at protests (which I can’t partake in as an international student at risk of deportation) and she’s leaving campus for 6 months at the end of the year so I doubt there will be time to make a real connection. Still, our brief moment of engagement was fun and good medicine for my scholastic insecurities.

Outside of school there are several folks that I’ve met that I have spent time with intermittently and that I quite like. Unfortunately I’m also really, really busy so I haven’t had much of a chance to really make an investment in deepening the friendships. It’s nice to know they’re out there, however, and with everyone else in London being so busy, too, I suspect these things just take more time than I’m used to. Lucky, as that’s how it would have to be anyway!

4) The Girl – again, it’s just so lovely to finally be in the same place. The transition has been relatively smooth. Little bumps here and there as we learn how the other engages with daily life. I’ve been short-tempered now and again due to the sudden onset of so much stress/work, missing home, etc. She’s patient. Learning how to manage time better so that my schoolwork doesn’t accidentally carry over into the little time we do have together will also be important. Between the 20 hours of work at my day job, the 20 hours of actual classes/seminars/transit and the 24 hours of required reading each week, I’m basically working 60+ hours a week — and that’s when I’m *not* writing essays on top. I’m pretty much a zombie in the evenings and it takes me a while to shake it off on the weekend. Usually I have one weekend day that I can stop school and work completely and the other day is half and half. It’s not a lot of time to relax and reconnect. But we’re doing the best we can to make quality time. We have date nights every Friday. (Tonight is a double-date with one of her friends at an outdoor holiday food market!) She’s so busy, too. We’re both working so hard. I’m already looking forward to summer.

5) London itself. Honestly, I could live in a cave in the middle of the woods for as much as I’m taking advantage of the amenities of London. It’s an absolute ridiculousness that I haven’t really gotten out to explore much. But again. Time. I came here to learn and that’s what I’m doing. Still, I need to make time to really fall in love with this place. I honestly forget that I’ve moved sometimes and little moments will catch me out. Mist over old stone buildings at nightfall and I think, OH MY GOD, I LIVE IN LONDON! I’ve been trying to figure out ways to live in that space more often. After all, when in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would move to another country? How did this happen? It’s amazing!!! But then I’m all “Shit, I have to read three chapters for class tomorrow” and the moment is gone. 😉 It’s gonna be a long, slow reveal, London!

6) Body stuff. I’m doing really well with the transition from driving everywhere to walking. There were some hiccups at the beginning. I tore a calf muscle within a week of getting here because I hit the ground running (literally.) Had to slow down and take a more measured approach. I started a nearly-every-morning nekkid yoga practice (much to the Girl’s delight) and it’s really helped my sciatic pain and calf strain. I’m practically sprinting up stairs now and while I’m still a little winded after three flights, I don’t have to stop anymore. I challenge myself here and there and other times I give myself breaks by going to closer bus stops or taking the elevator when my joints are aching. I’m grateful that my body is rising to the challenge of this new lifestyle so far. I was very concerned that I would injure myself before I got stronger. In actual fact, I did – but I learned how to make it work. Multi-vitamins are good, too, as there are approximately eleventy-jillion germs on every shared surface in London and I accidentally touch railings all the time. So far I’ve avoided becoming deathly ill. Knock on wood. (But wash your hands after!)

Let’s see… what else. I’ve been doing a mediocre job of keeping in touch with people back in Portland. Everyone has been so sweet. So many letters/cards/little packages. I’m really crap at sending things back due to lack of time but have managed it some and am hoping to do some fun crafty things to send around for the holidays. I really want to set up regular skype dates but it’s definitely complicated on both sides with the 8 hour time difference. Gonna have to prioritize it, though!

We booked our tickets back home for a visit in April. Short trip. Just 10 days. But I cannnnnooootttt wait to squeeze everybody!

Also, the Girl is adorable. She procured and prepared a traditional thanksgiving feast for/with me yesterday. She kept asking me if I wanted to do something to celebrate, but I was pouting about missing everyone and kept saying I just wanted to ignore it. After a chat with a friend who pointed out (gently) that I was being ridiculous, I suggested that “maybe we roast a chicken or something.” The Girl took the ball and ran with it and we ended up having turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, pumpkin pie makings and olives for our fingers. Very sweet. And her pumpkin pie (from scratch) was SO GOOD.

OK! That’s it. We’re off to Dalston to meet friends for the outdoor food market I mentioned earlier. I hear-tell that there’s a New York-style hot dog vendor there. We’ve been following this guy’s roving locations for months and it’s finally our chance to descend upon him and put his claims to the test!


2 comments

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  1. Kerri

    A lovely post. Thank you for making it.

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