I have decided the UK is Europe-Lite. It is definitely wonderfully European but culturally it's a much smoother adjustment for this American. Don't get me wrong, I will forever and always have a soft spot for my Deutschland but both times I lived there it was far more difficult for me to get settled and feel at home, this was far from the case in merry old England. I felt immediately at home. It could very well be because of my lovely British Beau and his wonderful warmth and hospitality but I feel with or without him my adjusting to life in Britain will be a lot smoother then it ever was for me in Germany.
As far as my move to the UK goes, I am more positive then ever that my decision to go to grad school there is the right one. While there, I visited a couple universities and fell in love with Birmingham. I was a bit leery at first as everyone I know who's ever been to Birmingham spoke rather unkindly of the city. I visited the campus first and it was just as a university campus should be with lovely old brick buildings spread amongst open green space.
And, I am in love with the POLSIS department. I met with the director of the program I am interested in and he was just as approachable, welcoming, and informative in person, as he has been via e-mail. I also had an opportunity to speak with a current student in the program as well. Speaking with both helped sell me even more on the program.
After the campus visit I visited the "Bull Ring" area of Birmingham. I realize this is far from all there is to see of the city but it wasn't bad at all. Loads of shopping and people bustling about everywhere. So, from what little I saw, I think I will do just fine in Birmingham.
Now, I just have to wait and see how all of the loan stuff pans out. Since the US federal student loan system is being completely revamped due to the new health care reform bill (so logical no?), I have to wait longer then expected. This is making my quite anxious as I cannot apply for my visa until I get my loans. So now I just wait...and pray...and hope...I can get enough in scholarships and federal loans to cover everything for the next year. If not, it will be back to square one and potentially postponing my studies for a year. :( This wouldn't be ideal but someway somehow, I will make it to the UK for grad school, if not this year, then next.
Despite the uncertainty, it feels so good to finally have a goal and direction. I've been floundering a bit but recently I have been more focused then ever as I think I've finally found which direction my little compass has been directing me to all along...