Thursday, June 7, 2012

What a difference a year makes...


All I can say is wow...

Life and the universe certainly have a way of throwing some major curveballs.  But, man oh man, am I forever grateful for them.  This time last year things were beginning to change for me, mostly in my relationship with the previously mentioned British Beau but also simply because grad school was ending and decisions had to be made.  At the time, the changes and decisions seemed bad and scary and far from what I wanted but now, a year later, every ounce of my being knows that it was all very much for the best.

So, what happened?  Where did I end up?  Physically, I ended up right back where I started, where I always seem to go when things fall to pieces and I have to regroup and put them back together again.  I can't say being 30 and moving back into my parents' house was high on my to-do list but you do what you have to do when it all falls apart and I am just so blessed that I have that place, that safe-haven where I can go to lick my wounds and heal myself.

Emotionally, well that journey is far less direct...  I went through a lot last summer and fall.  A lot of physical, mental, and emotional trials all in a very short time frame.  For a time, I didn't know if, when, and how I'd come through to the other side but as is always the case with me, I did and am stronger and better off for it.  Losing my sweet puppy love, then realizing the person I thought was "the one" was, in fact, not, followed by a stay in a foreign hospital for to have part of my insides removed, all whilst trying to write my 13,5000 word dissertation was a feat for me, would be for anyone I think.  But you know what?  A year later, I wouldn't change a thing (well maybe the losing my puppy heart still misses her a whole heck of a lot).

Had I not been through all that, I would not be reminded of the strength I have and the ability to rise above and in the end find peace and happiness.  My life now is far simpler than it was when I was chasing dreams an ocean away.  I have a job that has abso-freakin-lutely nothing to do with my degrees and you know what?  I could not care less because I actually like the work I am doing and the people I work with which is something I haven't had in a very long time.  The pay's not great either but I have learned money is most definitely not everything.

I am also now in a new and different relationship with a very different fellow from the last.  It's messy and some might say not right but somehow, it works.  I did the whole "looks good on paper" thing in the past and look where that got me?  So I am done picking my path based on what looks good or what seems logical and just go with my gut and heart because, honestly, they have yet to really fail me.  At the end of the day even if something doesn't work out, at least I can say I followed my heart.

So, I mentioned how life is far simpler now.  I will forever and always have the travel bug, this is for certain, but I finally feel content in my for the most part uncomplicated life (at least for now, I am not so disillusioned as to think that it may not change, as it so often does).  I have a job I love, a man I love, my friends and family close (which I desperately missed when I was gone) and that's about all I really need.  I don't have a car, tv, or internet most of the time and it's a be-a-u-tiful thing.  I am reading and walking and enjoying things I haven't in a very long time.

In a few weeks I will be getting on a plane to fly back across the pond so I can receive my degree.  I am torn about the whole thing.  I am nervous what feelings the trip will bring up but I am also so excited and proud that even after all the shit that was thrown at me, I still managed to accomplish my goal and get my degree.  I've earned the chance to celebrate and will enjoy getting to spend some quality time with my parents as they help me do just that.  I think it will also bring me some closure.  My life has already moved on but I like when I can put a final stamp on something in my past, walking across that stage will definitely be good for that.  I also think it will remind me of just how blessed I have been feeling lately and how good my life is, right here, right now, in my little ol' home town.  I don't regret chasing my dreams halfway across the globe but it's nice to know sometimes, your dreams can be right where you've always been...

And the journey continues......even when the compass points you home....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

About damn time...for an update!

Okay, I know it's been forever!  I got a request for an update so I thought I'd oblige considering it's been AGES.

This is going to be admittedly condensed and scattered so I apologize in advance.

I moved to lovely Birmingham, England on September 22, 2010.  It's been a crazy wonderful time so far.  I've been stretched to the max with my studies but am still very happy I made this decision.  Next week I have exams and then onto my dissertation, which will be due at the end of September.  It's hard to believe my classes are already finished!  Sometimes this past year seems to have moved at a snail's pace and other times it seems to have passed in the blink of an eye.

Life in England has been far more positive than negative for sure.  I have pretty much felt at home here from the minute my head stopped spinning from the big ginormous move.  Considering I've done the expat thing before I thought I knew what to expect.  It makes me laugh now to think about because this time around has been so different.  I will ALWAYS love Germany and have a huge soft spot for it but one thing is for certain, it never felt like home.  I am grateful for the time I lived there and may even entertain it again one day but every day living there was a challenge.  I always felt the need to stretch and bend and fit, nothing ever came easy.  Maybe it was the different language, maybe the different culture, more than likely it was a combination of things.  England, on the other hand, has been a much different story.  It fits and I fit.  I have moments where I could just scream when the buses in Brum leave me disappointed yet again or when I am facing a challenge and don't have my mom or my best friend to turn to at a moment's notice but I still feel at home even with the set backs.  It's a wonderful feeling.

I think one of the main reasons for all this "at-homeness" is due to my lovely wonderful and understanding boyfriend, Dan.  Things with us are nearly perfect.  We've had a couple hiccups when it comes to the uncertainty of the future but we know so long as we are both flexible and deal with the future as a team, we will get through it.  It's such an amazingly wonderful feeling knowing I have a true partner in life.

So, that's all for now.  I will try and post more once exams are done and all I have to focus on is my dissertation.  Maybe I will feel less frantic then, let's hope!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Couple of Notes...

Dear US Department of Education:

I like you.  I really really like you.


Dear UKBA (I like calling you this better then United Kingdom Border Agency, sounds friendlier.)

Next week, after I get my fat little fingers printed, I am going to be sending you a big ol' packet with lots o' very important stuff in it.  Would you kindly look over it quickly and grant me access to your lovely lovely country?  I'd greatly appreciate it.  I promise not to engage in any activities that might indicate that I may not be considered a person of good character.  I really do promise (no more speeding tickets, I swear!). 

Thank you kindly,

Friday, July 30, 2010

All Clear for Take Off....Sort Of...

First and foremost, thank you Uncle Sam and Mr. Obama for deeming me worthy of your funds.  I am forever grateful, even if I am trying to move away from you.

So it seems all of my loans have been approved and I will be getting my funding to study in the UK. 

YAY!!!!  Right?  Not quite!  Nothing is ever that simple, is it? 

Yesterday, I learned that I will not have any access to this funding until at least October 4, the official start of the semester.  Considering I still have a plane ticket to purchase, a flat to put a deposit on, and a visa to apply and pay for, I have a lot of not so cheap expenses coming my way very soon that I was hoping I'd be able to pay for with my loan.  On Uni Brum's on loan worksheet, you account for these expenses when requesting your loan, so they are obviously considered academic expenses. Seems good ol' Uncle Sammy thought he'd throw a small wrench into the mix. 

In the long run I know it is not a big deal.  I WILL work something out.  While my parents cannot help me financially for the long term, they have offered to pay for things I may not be able to cover initially and once I do have access to the funds I can pay them back.  Not to mention my car is worth more then what I owe on her (yes I said her, you got a problem with that?) so if I am lucky enough to actually get blue book value for her, I can use that extra money for my initial expenses. 

I just did my online UK visa application today and paid the $330 fee on my credit card (which I HATE using).  I had a mini-freak out with the whole criminal questions because apparently in their mind, traffic violations count as well.  I do have one two year old speeding ticket that's been paid and dealt with but it does show up on my "criminal report" (or whatever you call it)  So, I did put that on the application but my worry-wart self keeps thinking my application will come back with a ginormous REJECTED stamp on it all because I was hauling ass to meet a friend two years ago and happened to get a ticket for it. 

I have an appointment a week from Monday to get all my biometrics stuff done and then off in the mail my application goes.  I am still struggling to get a crystal clear list of what documents I must submit with it and it's driving me nuts.  They say I need to have my CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) number on my application but there was no place to put it.  Then it says I need to send the supporting documents (diploma and transcripts) I used to get my CAS from Brum.  Mind you all these documents have to be originals so do they really want me to send my big ol' diploma from undergrad???  The funding office sent my financial letter via DHL so that should arrive shortly and take care of that portion of the application.  And one thing I read says I have to send in documentation regarding my "criminal convictions".  Umm yeah I so don't still have that ticket anymore but will the Maryland Judiciary website print out stating the case is closed work?  As Dan would say, clear as mud! 

I am sure I am TOTALLY over thinking all of this and it will all work out just fine but I wouldn't be Anne-Margaret if I didn't worry about things!

Forward Ho!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To Whom It May Concern....

Dear US Dept. of Education & University of Brum:

I am oh so happy that according to you, you've both approved my loans.  I really truly am and am not trying to be a nag about things or ungrateful, but could you perhaps get a move on it?

You see I have about a month and a half now.  Without my loan paper work, I cannot apply for a visa.  Without a visa, I cannot sign a lease for a flat.  Without funding, I cannot put down a deposit for aforementioned flat, nor can/will I book a flight. 

So you see dear USDE and UoB, your assistance is greatly appreciated in this matter as my hands are tied until you actually give me (at least some portion) of my approved (per both of you) loan.

Not to be a brat but HURRY UP ALREADY DAMN-IT!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just One of Those Days

Today is one of those days where everything seems too big and too hard to handle.

I am STILL waiting to hear about my funding.  It's enough to drive me batty alone without all the other crap life throws at us.  I would be kidding myself if I didn't admit that if this all doesn't work out, I am going to be beyond crushed.  The prospect literally terrifies me because I cannot imagine being stuck where I am anymore.  I am soooo over my current situation.

Because I am beyond dissatisfied with my current digs, I find myself having less then zero motivation to do anything I should or could be doing.  I hate when I get like this.  I am currently working for my parents and unfortunatly this unhappiness and lack of motivation REALLY affects my work, or major lack there of.  I hate to admit it but when it comes to my current "job", I am a total slug.  This is, in large part, due to the fact that I can be, as awful as that sounds.  I KNOW it drives my parents up a wall and pisses them off to no end but finding motivation to do a job I HATE, simply to kill time waiting for my "real" life to start, is damn near impossible for me. 

So this always creates tension with the family, an added stress in my life I could so easily fix by just doing my job.  This I know and I do have moments of clarity, albeit short lived, where I kick out a good bit of work but then I burn out.  My head and my heart are not in this place anymore.  I'd go so far as to say that my current living/working situation is actually unhealthy for me, on multiple fronts.  (Did I mention the family business is a bakery - not exactly condusive to someone trying to follow WLS rules!)

I took this job because I HAD to.  I got canned at my old job (something that still gives me nightmares - like last night) and to help my parents offered a hand.  I am forever grateful for that.  I really truly am but it doesn't change the fact that I hate having to be in this situation at all in the first place.  I resent my old company for what they did to me.  It was unethical and unproffesional and I am suffering greatly for it.

I am not trying to be all woe-is-me about it all.  I wouldn't have gone out and pursued the grad school thing if I felt that way.  I WANT out.  I WANT a better life.  I WANT a better future.  I WANT to pursue my dreams.  But DAMN-IT, I am sick of waiting!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tick Tock Goes the Clock

Last week I was finally able to formally submit my federal loan application to the University of Birmingham.  The funding office says that I should get a response in no more then two weeks.  Two weeks?!?!  Do they not understand I have already been waiting for months!!!  Let's get this train moving people!

On a positive note the tone of their correspondence seemed very confident.  They said I should be getting the proper paper work for my visa in two weeks, which leads me to believe they see no reason why Uncle Sam shouldn't give me the exorbitant amount of money I requested.  Keep your fingers crossed people!  (Or thumbs pressed if you are of the Deutschie variety.  I wonder what other good luck things exist in other cultures?)

Oh and also, this weekend I received a letter in the mail from Uncle Sam, himself, that went a little something like this:

Dear Desperately-Broke-Wanna-Be-Foreign-Grad-Student:

We have reviewed your evil evil credit report and are super-happy to tell you that you qualify for a Direct PLUS loan (the one you were oh so scared of because we were going to check your evil evil credit report and might make you have someone else sign in blood to vouch for your worthiness).

Your school also knows we approved you and your evil evil credit report, though this still does not guarantee you will receive aforementioned scary-but-oh-so-desperately-needed loan.  The school will tell you the final future-determining decision on your wonderfully-filled-out application.  If your school wants our money and decides to offer you scary-but-needed loan, you'll receive more info.  (Duh!)

Your Master and Chief, Obama-son.

Rock on Uncle Sam.  This here letter gives me oh so much hope but I am scared to get too excited just yet until I get the official signed, sealed, and delivered word on my fate.  So, again, please, pray to whatever god, goddess, demon, deity, earthly being, whatever to which you pray!!!  I'll send cookies, if you do!