Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moving homes

Packing blitz #1 is underway. My room is hardly more of a mess than it usually is, but this time the mess is tempered by boxes full of paper and office supplies in the corner. Most of my things are still on display as of now. I am dreading seeing my room empty, no books filling the shelves or picture collages on the wall. That's just too much reality for right now.

Major events like this have a way of slowly walking up to me and then, when they're about 2 feet in front of me, leaning in and shouting, "Boo!" The effect is that, even though I know they're going to happen and am calm, I am ultimately overwhelmed. I wish I had a clearer memory of moving into Gillett my freshman year, or rather of what I was feeling at the time. The day is a blur of elevators and little green wagons and boxes. Then, of course, there was the horrifying shock of seeing Greek characters on my room's door. The year turned out surprisingly well, though, and I think Columbia became home that year. It has remained so. A lot of my personal growth can probably be attributed to the creative environment I've been in for the past four years. It's wonderful to be surrounded by art and people who appreciate it. Finding other people my age who adore literature was a revelation, and living in a city that indulges that passion was even better. I love that Columbia feels very down to earth and natural and friendly in spite of the university's presence. (Football game days seem to be an exception to this.) Columbia is just comfortable. I'm going to miss it terribly. I wonder when it's actually going to hit me, as right now I'm too caught up in other things to think about the fact that I'm leaving.

I'm nervous because I have no idea what kind of city Cheltenham is. I have high hopes; a literature festival will be held there in September. I wonder if it will ever feel as natural as Columbia, though, or if it will merely be a holding tank. I will make every effort to let it feel like home, and I hope it will grow as dear to me as the other places I've lived. Only time will tell.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On the value of travel

I don't know who Patton Oswalt is (a comedian?), but he gave this speech at his former high school, and it's excellent.

Big Step #1

I suppose being offered a job was Big Step #1, actually. Regardless, I've just taken what feels like the first Big Step, and booked a flight. I'm flying out of Chicago on August 11 and arriving at London Heathrow on August 12 at 8 am. Shockingly, Virgin Atlantic had the cheapest flight, so that's the airline I'll be using. I've got no brand loyalty; I've used a different airline on each trip to England.

The first time, I flew with Northwest, which proved to be quite an adventure. After an on-time departure from St. Louis, I had to suffer through a roughly 5-hour layover in Minneapolis. Layovers are typical, but this one was only supposed to last an hour. The plane was boarded on schedule, actually, but after about 45 minutes, they announced that there were mechanical problems. Scary. The announcement was followed by a trek across the airport to a new gate and plane, where we had to wait for several more hours. Vouchers for Subway definitely did not make up for the experience. In the end, the functioning plane was very comfortable, and I think the food was probably edible, but I was terribly sick because of nerves. This meant that I did not sleep or eat; I only watched movies (They had a pretty decent selection.) and tried not to think about the pain in my stomach. Fortunately, I was sitting next to a nurse who, in an oddly serendipitous stroke, worked at the hospital next to my new university. Conversation was somewhat inhibited by my weak stomach, but she was able to give me advice on how to minimize the pain of airsickness and then how to get to the university. Overall, it was actually a fitting introduction to my study abroad experience--full of luck and inconveniences.

I took United Airlines this spring. This flight was much smoother; there were no plane problems or delays. I wasn't nauseated, either. Huzzah! I was able to concentrate on my Austen (Persuasion) and eat. Word of advice, though: Never even try to eat an airline breakfast. Ugh. I also wound up with a terrible seat and didn't speak a word to anyone around me, which was rather disappointing. I didn't like the experience very much at all. I guess the impersonality of United and the mechanical issues of Northwest balance each other out, and I don't really want to fly on either again. I'm excited about trying out Virgin; obviously, it's targeted toward young people, so I'll see if it lives up to its advertising.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Down the rabbit hole


I took this during my last trip to England. I hope to post more of my favorite shots soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The return

When you last heard from me, I was leaving London for Germany, Spain, and home. My time in London was quick and full of adventures, misadventures, and some depression, if I'm honest. However, the long-term results of the trip were fantastic, and the year and a half since my return to Missouri have probably been the most spectacular of my oh-so-short life so far. Suffice it to say, being an English major was bliss, despite the occasional stress storm, and I now have a BA in English with honors. (Sorry, I'm very proud of myself for that.)

Graduation inevitably brings change. For me, it also meant making difficult decisions about where I would spend the next year before I go to grad school in 2009. I really wanted to spend time abroad, and I thought going back to England would be amazing. So I applied for jobs at libraries, and even got interviewed by the Bodleian! Unfortunately, I didn't get the job, so it was back to Google for ways to get abroad. I got thisclose to moving to Germany before an opportunity to move to Cheltenham, England arrived.

So the short version is, I will be moving to England in the middle of August, spending a year there as an au pair. I have no idea what consequences will emerge from this, but am quite excited to find out. I'd like to invite all of you to join me on this second adventure through an antique land.

adopt your own virtual pet!