Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Forward motion

This is going to be my blog for recording my year abroad in Wales. I know it's pretty standard for people to blog when they study abroad, and I also suspect not many people actually keep up with these blogs, so maybe it's a bit self-indulgent on my part. However I hope that for my friends and family who wish to keep up with my life, it'll be a way to do so despite the distance and the six-hour time difference. Though I'm not abroad yet, it feels like the right time to start chronicling my preparations.

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These past few weeks I feel like I've been living in an odd state of limbo. Everything started coming together at once for the big move--Joshua found us an apartment on the same day I found out that I'm getting a scholarship, and today I received approval for my loans and the go-ahead to begin my visa application. Little by little I've been packing up my apartment, and it's strange to label boxes "Leave Behind", and to wonder how different things may be by the time I open those boxes again. In the midst of all this I'm trying to keep myself anchored in the present, to enjoy the time I have left here in the US with my friends and family to the fullest.

I would be lying if I said I'm not nervous--the more I think about it, the closer it comes, the more nervous I get. Some days I absolutely panic worrying about everything I still have to sort out before I move and the things I'll have to figure out when I get there. I'm nervous about a lot of things. When I visited Josh I tried to buy my mom a birthday card, and I took so long shuffling through my change that he got embarrassed and paid for me. That one-pound coin throws me off every time! Things like this I know I'll learn quickly once I'm thrown into the midst of it, but I still worry. And as a recovering perfectionist, I'm nervous about adjusting to a new education system. Just from seeing Josh in his undergraduate studies and comparing them to my own experiences I've gleaned a bit of an understanding of how different things are. If I remember correctly, it's rare to get above an 80% on an assignment--that's considered excellent! I have mental images of me bringing home essays with 65% on them and dissolving in tears, and maybe not even having Oreos to console myself with.

Despite all these anxieties, and many more, I have no doubts about whether I've made the right decision. Josh still has a year of school left, and we decided a long time ago that it wouldn't be fair to either of us to remain indefinitely in a transatlantic romance. It's not nearly as poetic as that phrase sounds. Many of my friends, over the past year or so, have listened to me discuss this and watched as I investigated my options. Because aside from the basic fact that you can't just get a visa to show up in the UK with no plans or no source of income, I personally knew that I didn't want to do anything that would take me off the path I'm on for my own future. I knew that if I were going to move I had to have something set up there that fit into my plans, whether that were a social work internship, a job, or an educational opportunity. Graduate school wasn't initially on my mind as something I'd do immediately after undergraduate, but then Swansea's Ageing Studies program (yes, I'm spelling it the British way now) fell right into my lap. "Serendipity" is one of my mom's favorite words, and there's no better way to describe how my plans for studying and living in Wales have progressed.

Four years ago, I didn't think I could attend college more than 2 hours away from home, and now I'm so excited to be in a new place and start a new chapter of my life that it doesn't feel like I'm sacrificing anything. It feels more like a reward for the risk I took three years ago when Joshua and I started our relationship, and even though in a sense this move is another risk, I feel far more confident in this one than I did in that one--and look how that's turned out so far.

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