No one told me getting accepted was the easy part.

An incomplete sampling of my current to-do list:

  • ship a box of linens and kitchen stuff
  • fit all my clothes into my suitcase
  • pick up GBP at my bank
  • blog about all of the above
  • submit international voting form
  • clean out my desk
  • somehow fit all the things into my personal bag that I want to fit
  • register for optional modules
  • confirm arrival time for accommodation
  • unlock my cell phone

 

But really –

What I did, using Evernote (but many note-taking softwares will serve the same function),  was sit down in early June and make a checklist of all the things I had to do between that day and a nebulous future date by which I will have “settled in”. I divided these things by the date they needed to happen on, and if any of the tasks originated on, had instructions on, or involved a webpage, I hyperlinked the task to the webpage. It made life so much less stressful and more organized – I didn’t have to leave a bunch of links up in my browser; any time something new came up, it was easy to add to the list; this format allowed me to see when I was busier vs. when I had more free time, evenly distributing my preparations. It’s been stressful, but much more manageably so than if I had not worked all this out ahead of time. One thing I would do different, though, if I had it to do over again, is that I would treat my scheduled checklist like the dates were harder deadlines as opposed to suggestions – these past few weeks have been a little heavier than I planned because I let things slide in some cases where I probably shouldn’t have.

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Check-in: 177 days until departure

Hello, all.

I have liked every page that could conceivably relate to me – KCL’s general Facebook page, the page for the War Studies Department, the page for the student organizations, the KCL internships page, Time Out London’s page. I’ve also followed every professional London theatre whose Twitter feed wasn’t a wreck, every analogous Twitter account for the above listed Facebook pages, and the president of the KCL Student Union. Just for fun.

I check the weather in London just about every time I check my own weather – I’ve made it a page on my phone’s weather app. I conveniently have a comparison across seasons between what I’m used to and what London tends to experience. I’ve been doing this since January.

I am paralyzed – not with indecision, but with the lack of decisions needing to be made. There is nothing, in this moment, that I need to do.

This is very much a”hurry up and wait” type deal. I have a lot to do – you should see my checklists – but they all have a specific start date, or I have to wait for someone else to do their bit, or any information I find will be useless by the time I’m actually ready to use it. So sure, I can lay around and watch all of The Big Fat Quiz of the Year for the past decade and I can write a countdown into my planner and I have pretty much memorized the instruction page on how to apply for housing, but I can’t actually do much that needs doing yet.

I have, however, been invited to the Facebook group for the School of Social Science and Public Policy Offer Holders. It’s all the people who have been offered a place in the postgraduate programs for the Departments in this school, plus a few moderators employed by the school to answer questions. I have been wracking my brain for days, trying to think of an analogous old-school practice, but have thus far come up short. The “Facebook group the size of a small city” is entirely of our own creation. Sorry, baby boomers.

I can offer an update to the housing situation: Within the next few weeks I will receive my login information that will allow me access to the housing portal. The portal opens April 4th. Bless.

Otherwise, though, life mostly still consists of reminding myself anew every morning that I do actually have to maintain a 3.5 GPA this semester – I’m in very little mathematical danger no matter what, but the threat to my current 4.0 is enough to keep me attentive. I’m trying to strategically use up, as much as possible, all of the stuff I’ve somehow accumulated: more bottles of travel-sized lotion than any human being needs, a bunch of old eyeliners and makeup samples, some bath bombs I ordered last semester and am slowly depleting… You get the idea. I want to strategically use this stuff so that I have as little of the “don’t really need it but can’t bring myself to throw it away” category as possible when May rolls around.

Other than that, it’s largely business as usual, with one minor difference: I’m making a concerted effort to avoid thinking of the next few months as some sort of purgatory. I’m not “biding my time” through them, and I refuse to center my entire life around the lead-up to September 5th. I’m going out of my comfort zone, cultivating relationships, reading, occasionally binge-watching a TV show, exercising (voluntarily!), doing some independent study… In short, I’m living my best life right here, right now, in a small city in Arkansas.

Until next time,

Ashley

Why am I here?

Hello!

In a few months, I will be graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree; plenty of people do this. Millions, even. In September, I will be starting a Master’s degree; this is a little more rare, and some people choose not to pursue them in strict succession, but still not entirely remarkable. For this degree, I will be moving from Arkansas to London – yes, that London. This is a lot less common.

That’s why this blog exists.

I realized that there aren’t exactly an abundance of resources or websites that cover this particular niche, so here’s me, providing one more – albeit one specific “more”. Read along to follow me through prep – including endless checklists, moving, settling in, and life during grad school.

So, to catch you up:

  • Why grad school?
    My undergraduate degree and my postgrad work are in different fields – I see this less as a shift in my interests and more as a way to reconcile different sides of myself. I always wanted to pursue graduate school, I love academia, but there was no reason to continue to graduate school in the path set out by my undergraduate degree. I had been mulling a degree change for some time, and my graduate degree is actually in a field that I almost went into in undergrad, so in a way I’m back where I was four years ago. Plus, I totally plan on getting a vanity doctorate, and you need a Master’s degree for that.
  • As the guy in AT&T asked, “How did that happen?”
    When I started applying for graduate schools, I only looked at programs that were not in the USA. Grad school literally anywhere that isn’t the good ol’ US of A is so much cheaper that it actually justifies a transcontinental move, even with all the extra fees implied. Plus, the program I’ve chosen is 12 months long, which means I’m paying a year’s cheaper tuition as opposed to multiple years of US tuition.
    Also, I’ll be living in London. Who could turn that down? Everything, once considered, just adds up. Please remind me of that when I’m trying to fit my whole life into two suitcases and searching for a part-time job in a foreign country.
  • When? For how long?
    I’ll leave in the first week of September and my thesis is due on August 31, 2017.
  • Where?
    I have been accepted to an MA program at King’s College London; in early January, I accepted their offer. My program is taught on the Strand Campus. (Look it up on Google maps – I’m a stone’s throw from everything.)
  • But…
    • All by yourself?
      Yep.
    • Will you know anyone?
      Well, after the first few weeks I’ll know my roommates. And a professor or two.
    • Will you get to come back for holidays?
      If you’re asking this, you must not know my mom. Thanksgiving’s pretty much a no-go, given that there’s not time off from school, but if I missed Christmas she would fly over just to beat me over the head with my gifts.
  • And after school?
    Well, I’ll let you know as soon as I do. My mom claims I’m never going to come back because I’ll meet someone, fall madly in love, and live the rest of my days in the UK. (Which doesn’t sound half bad.)

In the coming months, look forward to:

  • The nth Purge of Everything I Own
  • Complaints about how ridiculous the price of international shipping is
  • How to Pack Your Entire Life
  • Questions you didn’t even know you needed to ask
  • BUREAUCRACY!
  • Things You Don’t Know Mark You as American… Until You’ve Done Them
  • Theoretically, the Tube is Easy to Navigate