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!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If you don't believe in ghosts, you've never been to a family reunion...

This past weekend I was at a family reunion.  It was not my own family (we are so small a reunion is really unnecessary) but it got me thinking about family, my grandparents to be exact.

If you've been following along, you might already realize my moving to the UK will not be my first foray into expatriatism.  I have been an expat twice before in my life, both times in Germany.  The first time I was going to school in a small town in northwestern Germany, called Oldenburg.  The second, I was living in Berlin and sort of teaching English, depending on the amount of work I could or could not find at the time.

So this whole expat thing is not brand spanking new to me.  While each time and experience is different, there are still some similarities that make the second and third time around seem far less intimidating.  I am grateful for the comfort that comes from having "been there, done that".

This been there, done that attitude can also be somewhat of a negative as well though.  That brings me back to my grandparents.  You see, when I was going to school in Germany back in 2002, both of my maternal grandparents passed away (7 weeks to the day apart from one another - I blame PawPaw's death on a broken heart).  It was probably, to date, one of the hardest things I've ever been through in my life.  I am not even talking about their deaths per say.  Don't get me wrong, losing a loved one is tough shit but losing someone while thousands of miles away is in a league all it's own. 

I didn't get my goodbyes.  My grandmother was on a ventilator in her last few days of life and my entire family was surrounding her the day they "pulled the plug", my entire family except for me, that is.  I didn't get to hold her hand like my sister did.  I didn't get to hear all her favorite songs played at her service or see all the people turn up to say their goodbyes.  I didn't get to tell my PawPaw how much I loved him before he went.  I didn't get to feel the closure one feels as their loved one is placed in their final resting place. 

Besides all that, I felt a bit like I was in the wrong place all together.  It was in those moments where I questioned my decision to move so far away at all.  Was it worth it to be away from the ones I loved?  Will people understand my not being there?  Was I short changing myself or others?  In the end I know that my grandparents, my Austrian grandfather imparticular, supported my decision to move abroad more then almost anyone else.  They would have rather had me out in the world living my life then to have me home just so I could attend their funeral services.

So on the cusp of another transatlantic move, I am reminded of these things.  I am reminded that I will miss out on things again.  I will miss family events, both good and bad.  I will feel left out and alone sometimes.  And this time around my move is indefinite.  I don't have any planned return date.  So long as the Queen lets me, I plan on settling in the UK.  This will mean even more lost moments.  I know I am going to be building a wonderful life for myself in a place I love, with a man I love but the thought of missing special moments can be a bit hard to swallow sometimes. 

I know that my loved ones will love me no matter where I call home and that is the one thing that keeps me moving forward and moving on.  Family is family no matter where you are.  For this, I am so very grateful.