“May you live every day of your life”–Jonathan Swift
On friday evening I, along with my fellow classmates, was idling in a room overlooking Queen’s Gate Road in Kensington, drinking cheap wine, snacking on room temperature hors d’oeuvres and smiling politely as the head of alumni relations assertively requested that I fill out a contact form so the university could solicit (further) funds from me in the future.
Classes have ended. The ‘school’ part of grad school has ended. 9 of the 14 months I’m spending in London have passed. Essentially, 2/3 of my graduate experience is over.
If you were to ask me at the graduate reception how I felt about facing the coming conclusion of my tenure in the UK, I would’ve probably assured you that I was fine and am eager for the challenges of the ‘real world’ and that I am keen to begin my successful career, etc. And maybe that is my truthful answer but the last few weeks have been hectic with classwork that the ending of my final semester has come and gone and I feel that I’ve barely had time to notice.
I’ve jokingly said to some of my friends and colleagues that without a mountain of papers to write and books to read my life has suddenly been without direction. That’s probably half true. Truth be told, the uncertainty is really only a temporary state. The month of May will bring with it some travel and a move into my new flat in Bayswater. It should also bring visits from my sister and a friend and I couldn’t be more excited to host them and share with them the London that I’ve come to know.
Yes, the uncertainty is definitely temporary. I will just have to find some things to do to fill in the 2 weeks of free time I have until I begin my travels again. I actually just booked a trip to Cardiff for 2 days 1 night. I figured why not see Wales? That way I’ll have successfully visited every country of the United Kingdom. After the two weeks of nothingness ends, I will be treating myself to a small vacation by visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia and Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina (google image pictures of them!). Following my Balkan escapade I’ll continue onward to Spain and visit Barcelona and Bilbao. I’ve found it humorous to note that though I’ll be visiting Spain I won’t actually be in ‘Spain’. Barcelona is in Catalonia and Bilbao is the capital of Basque country. I’m really just looking forward to soaking in some Mediterranean sun and freeing myself from the cruel British weather. Woe to me.
I should mention that I’m able to do all of these things in May because I will not begin my internship with the U.S. Commercial Service until 18 June. My internship coordinator, Stephanie Mulot, has been very kind in allowing me to postpone my start date so that I can go home for Dan and Julianne’s wedding. I’m of course thrilled that I will finally be back in the states and able to catch up with the people that I’ve missed over these past several months. I’m eager to share my experiences and stories with them but also more interested in hearing about the developments in their lives. Someone (who will remain nameless since I don’t know if he/she would approve of me sharing this) advised me to stay in touch with everyone back home because after his/her year away from home they found that the friendships he/she had fostered were not as strong as they had been. I sorely hope that this will not be the case when I return to the US permanently and I think that I’ve been very proactive in maintaining communication with all of my friends back home.
Though my summer (if you want to call this weather something resembling summer go ahead) has barely started I’m very aware of how quickly it’ll come and go. Especially considering that from mid-June to the end of September I’ll be working full-time at the embassy, I know that I will look up at the calendar one day and suddenly realize I have a flight home to book. May, therefore, will be all about savoring what I can.
I’ve truly enjoyed my academic experience at Richmond even though I’m painfully aware that it is not over yet (see: dissertation). There have been highs and lows along the way and I’m sure that my classmates that are reading this will probably know which lows I’m referring to. I think that I have had an invaluable experience that has leant itself to developing a maturity and perspective that I’m not sure I had this time last year. Last year I was feeling depressed after struggling to find a job and was not adjusting well to my post-WVU life back home. I’d log on to facebook and see the adventures of my friends in far off places like India or Australia and I would think that there was something wrong that I wasn’t able to be doing those things. Typing that sentence makes me realize how childish that notion was and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it but it was, at the time, true. I would also see and hear from my friends who were beginning their professional lives post-college and it pained me to not be on that same level. Now, however, I’ve gained a renewed confidence in my life path and have really developed a drive that I know will aid my in whatever endeavor I so choose.
Everything goes by so fast and it’s my constant struggle to appreciate everything as it comes to me. So May will be a month of exploration and rejuvenation. The latter weeks of June will bring about my professional career and the rest is up to me.