Essay Week

Blood, sweat and tears have been spilled, but the word count has been reached and the grammar has been checked. The module one essay was turned in Monday morning and I’ve been trying to recover since. Have finally gotten to the tail end of whatever gunk I caught, just in time to start a new module. The lesson learned from this? I should never, ever become an ethicist. If it’s not practical and real world work, I’m out of my element. Needless to say, it’s not been an exciting week of traipsing the English countryside for me, though if the weather isn’t too miserable I may go check out Abbey Park this weekend. The Weather Channel is predicting only a 20% chance of rain Saturday, but trusting the weather forecast here that far in advance is lunacy.

Aaaaanyway… I was lame and did not go out for Bonfire Night. Instead I wrote on my essay and watched fireworks in the distance from my flat whilst hacking up a lung and going through obscene amounts of camomile tea. Actually, I watched fireworks go off for the next 3 nights after and got the most spectacular text from it:

I mean, I feel it'd be a reasonable excuse.
I mean, I feel it’d be a reasonable excuse.

For most of the week it was some variation on this grumbling, but somehow between the frantic bouts of inspirations and the frequent breaks for Buzzfeed articles a miracle happened and a paper appeared. From this point I’m just choosing to not think about it any more and start focusing on the next looming deadline – presentations.

Back home, it seems that my parents have gotten SNOW already, and tonight the weather is threatening -20 to -40 F with the Arctic chill sweeping through the North American continent. I will take drizzle any day over that, thank you very much. In fact, I’ve gotten to the point of walking outside without a jacket when the sky is grey because “it doesn’t smell like rain outside” and it’s accurate. I’m impressed with myself.

Oh! Speaking of dying, I got to visit a real-live NHS doctor’s office this week. Was actually just for the routine check up I booked before coming down with plague, but that’s life for you. Of course, this is only one clinic in one city, but I was really impressed with the service. At the front desk I signed in through a touch screen that told how many patients were ahead of me and then sat down in the waiting room. In the room was a scrolling marquee that would chime whenever a patient was to be seen with their name and the room they should go to on the screen. When it came to my name, I walked to the room and was greeted by a friendly nurse who took my vitals and asked what I needed to be seen for. She updated my prescription and even helped me out with it because there’s no direct version of it here in the UK. (Definitely check your medicines before studying abroad for this!)  It felt really weird just walking out of the building after without talking to the front desk about billing. It felt even weirder filling the prescription. It literally consisted of me handing over the paper, the pharmacist finding the pills and putting the data in the computer, then handing them to me. No insurance fuss, no dread over what the final bill was going to be. Granted, I didn’t have to pay for my medicine in this case, but not all medicine in the UK is free. It’s a complicated system, but it’s still much clearer and less dread-inducing than medicine in the US.

Otherwise I’ve been more resident than tourist, so I tried to get a few photos of just everyday things around town that stood out in one way or another. Some of the things that get me the most are the food products. Sometimes the food is exactly the same as in the US, sometimes it’s arbitrarily renamed, and sometimes you’ll find something completely unique. I’ve learned to not go into the shops for groceries with any preconceptions.

I’ve also been really missing my fuzzball kitty and I’ve been told he misses me, though it seems Mom and Dad have been excellent cat keepers thus far as he’s snoozing behind their heads on the couch in the evenings. It made me sadder to see this poster on a street coming home, but it gave me some faith in humanity to see what people had added.

Lost Cat Poster

My kitty, safe with the parentals, looking surly as usual.
My kitty, safe with the parentals, looking surly as usual.

And to end this fascinating blog update, there was this weirdness I ran into today walking to the Fees Office on campus and laughed harder at than I probably should have. There were no gardeners in sight and though overcast it wasn’t raining. However, it looked like someone just kinda thought, “Meh, this is good enough for now,” and just walked away from it. Maybe it’s just the adjustment of living with what feels like a ‘meh’ mentality here from most people, but I found it hilarious. I dunno.

"Meh, this is good enough for now."

I guess if I’m laughing at a lone lawnmower it’s probably time for me to get some sleep. Hope all is well where you are, and I hope to write again this weekend!

— Kate

Onward!

I am getting into the week of Lasts. Of course there’s the big obvious ones like Last Time to See Friends and Family, Last Chance to Find Something Important I Need, or Last Experiences in America. However, there are also the little ones like Last Laundry Day, Last Night of Cat Purring on My Head, or Last Time Just Sitting in the Living Room with Family that seem to make me even more emotional. The big things you can mentally prep for – it’s the little things that will get you unexpectedly.

It felt kinda weird hanging out and saying goodbye to everyone over the last week because I wasn’t bursting into tears when we hugged, but it’s slowly starting to creep in. I think some of it is also because even though I won’t see everyone again in person for some time, I’ll still be very much in contact with them. Moving across the country four years ago helped with this process immensely. In my last major undertaking I moved thousands of miles to a place where I knew no one and definitely suffered some culture shock. With the last move I didn’t want to particularly be there, but I wasn’t ready to stay alone in the old state at the time and I knew it. However, I’ve since made lifelong friends, grew up a lot emotionally, and had opportunities I would never have gotten back east. I also got the chance to learn who my real friends were back east very quickly, unlike some folks who go years until they realize that they were only ever school friends and not so much in the real world.

With this round, some of the challenges will be the same – thousands of miles away, new school/town, and some culture shock. However, I have distance tested friends in the States, in England, and a good amount spread across Europe and Asia that I know will always be there. I’ve also had some help in acculturation beforehand, and have a great desire to be there and make the absolute best of it. There may be a lot of yes’s and not as much sleep and I may not see much of my flat, but if this isn’t a jolt to go out and enjoy life without hesitation or fear, then what is the point of going out so far on my own? I am both sad and happy, scared and excited, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

— Kate