Tag Archives: postgraduate

A case of the blues

When I was getting ready to move, I knew one of the things I would deal with would be feelings of sadness.  Isolation.  Loneliness.  Homesickness.  Being-a-crappy-writer-dom.  I’m also a really emotional person, so I know when I do feel like this I’m going to feel it in my whole body and if I just let those feelings fester it’s going to consume me.  I have always lived with other people so I’ve almost always had someone to turn to when I had those feelings.  But even though knowing those feelings were natural helps, I still found myself unprepared for pulling myself out of the rut when I get in it.  It’s not enough to acknowledge my pain… I must transcend it.  And here’s how I do that:

  1. Self-care: easily the most important thing I can do.  If I feel like a disgusting human being incapable of stringing two sentences together, not taking a shower or eating vegetables isn’t going to help.  It feels like giving myself the day off but what I’m really telling myself is that I’m not worth it.  Um, excuse me?  Yes, I am.  I shave my legs, feed myself real food, and clean my apartment.  Because I owe it to myself to be the best roommate in the world.
  2. Go outside: along the same lines of self-care but slightly more social.  It’s not even about talking to other people, just reminding myself I’m one soul in a sea of billions and the air is crisp and Pret exists.  It’s what separates us from the Matrix-dwellers.
  3. Buy a candle: or flowers, or a picture or any small thing that perks your living space up.  Being a writer with ADHD who can’t write anywhere near other people means I’m in my flat ALL. THE. TIME.  So if I have to shut myself away to write those last three pages of a script, I need to do it in a room that smells like I’m frolicking in an apple orchard someone set on fire with cinnamon sticks.
  4. Arrange to Skype or physically hang out with someone: a lot of the time, my loneliness isn’t a product of being alone in that moment, but not knowing when that moment’s going to end.  Even if I have to wait a week, knowing I get to see and talk to someone I love is all the encouragement I need to perk up.
  5. Go somewhere I haven’t been: I don’t know if you know this, but London is HUGE.  I don’t know if I could learn this city if I stayed here a lifetime, let alone the measly two years I’m here.  My Pinterest board has helped immensely, but I’m always taking recommendations! (*hint hint*)
  6. Talk to a counsellor or religious leader: my school has a great mental health centre and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve taken advantage of it.  Even if there’s nothing “wrong” with you, talking to someone objective and trained in the art of listening can be a great way to sort out the reasons your feelings have taken a downward turn and how to identify triggers.

Of course there are lots of little things I do, too, but these are my big, sure-fire ways of picking myself up.  And sometimes I just have to remind myself:

tumblr_mkaitm93w61qzmcmeo1_500

If none of these are an option for you and you need help right away, you can call Samaritans at 116 123 in the UK and (212) 673-3000 in the US for someone to talk to 24 hours a day, confidentially.

Advertisements

Updates Galore!

WELL.  Now that things have calmed down a bit, I finally feel like I can update everyone on what’s been happening here at Chez My Flat (title pending).

I’ve been in school for about three weeks now.  Even though I was super excited about going back to school and getting back into the swing of things, I’ve gotten to the point where I can see and feel my lack of knowledge.  In all of my previous academic experience that was the point where I became frustrated and felt like giving up.  Now I’m trying to use it as a teachable moment: if you don’t feel like you totally get it, you’re probably heading in the right direction.  I will always feel like a fraud around other writers, like I don’t take it seriously enough, but I really think if I push myself through the difficult bits something amazing will happen.

I’m starting to get to know my classmates and they’re a fun bunch.  Lots of different personalities and backgrounds, proving writers aren’t all anti-social hermits with drinking problems.  But I think most of us would agree that burgers are fantastic.

My flat is still a work-in-progress.  I would show pictures but nothing has changed aside from the food in my refrigerator (i.e. there is some now).  A lot of “setting up” the flat was buying boring things like can openers and toilet paper.  I’ve finally gotten around to ordering ACTUAL FURNITURE so when that arrives in a week or two I’ll be sure to update.

And then there’s just London in general.  I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.  Which is not to say I have the hang of it.  I’m sad to admit this but when I first got here I was nervous about doing certain things because I didn’t know how they worked (or thought I didn’t know).  Getting registered with a GP, ordering drinks at a pub, taking a taxi… all things I was hesitant to do but eventually forced myself to.  And it wasn’t as scary as I thought.  I’ve found that if you’re really nice and apologize constantly, most people will forgive you for anything (except for murder.  I don’t recommend it.  The court case was hell).  I met someone last week and she was shocked when I told her I had only been in London a month and a half.  That was a huge compliment.  I’m assimilating.

And now, because no post is complete without an ode to food, here are some of the best places I’ve eaten so far:

  1. Boom Burger: I’ve eaten so many burgers since getting here and this is still my absolute favorite.  I’m basically free PR for them at this point, like a Boom Burger Jesus.
  2. Danny’s Traditional Fish & Chips
  3. E. Mono
  4. The Chicken Shop: Just had it tonight.  The apple pie!  The fries!  The CHICKEN!
  5. some stall in Camden Market with fresh doughnuts
  6. Paris: Just, like, the whole city.  Trust me on this one.
  7. Borough Market: Again, just the whole place. (apparently Sunday is Apple Day so… that’s where I’ll be)

tumblr_inline_mm7geanIsW1qz4rgp

Since my sofa bed is on the way, I’m now taking reservations to stay at Chez My Flat! (again, we’re working on the title – sorry)

See you guys in London! xx Eileen

The Twelve Days of Flat Hunting

On the twelfth day of flat hunting my true love gave to me:

  • 12 cups of coffee
  • 11 flats a-looked at
  • 10 rude estate agents
  • 9 miles walking
  • 8 absolute rat holes
  • 7 diff’rent Tube stops
  • 6 complaining phone calls (to my parents)
  • 5 panic attacks

(ba-dum dum dum…)

  • 4 moldy bathrooms
  • 3 post codes
  • 2 missed opportunities
  • and 1 flat to call all my own!

I’m going to share some pictures with you, but only if you promise to keep in mind that I still have a lot of work to do on it, okay?  Good.

20150923_094658 20150923_094708 20150923_094746 20150923_094800 20150923_094806 20150923_094823 20150923_094840(0)

Also, these are the “before” pictures, so of course they’re low quality.  Obviously. 😉

Moving abroad: tips

DSC01795

  • Keep a small binder or folder with all pertinent travel documents with you in an easily-accessible location.
  • Scan your legal documents and e-mail them to yourself.  In moving from one place to another, you never know what could happen.  Have backups of anything you might need and keep them readily accessible by having them on your phone in the form of an email.  I sent copies to both my personal and school accounts just to be safe.
  • Unless you can afford a storage space or international movers (or have incredibly obliging parents) you’re going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff.  Start doing it as soon as possible.
  • Don’t trust those Pinterest infographics that tell you the best time to buy tickets is 8 weeks before you leave or whatever.  The best time to buy your ticket is as soon as humanly possible.
  • Find a temporary place to stay before you get there, even if it’s only for a week.  PLEASE don’t assume you can just arrive and find a hostel.  Don’t make any long-term living arrangements before you arrive.
  • Save as much money as you can.  I’m personally afraid to total exactly how much it cost me to move myself from the US to the UK.
  • Have a backup plan for everything.
  • A friend recently told me, when it comes to banks, multiply the amount of time you think it will take by 2 and then go up to the next unit of time.  So if you think it’ll take 2 hours, it’ll actually take 4 days.  I would say this is completely true (in the US as well as the UK).  I would also say it applies to almost anything legal or financial you’re doing, including looking for flats.
  • You’re going to need a lot of money.  How much?

Cost to move: single person, moving for school, 2 years

Visa fee = $502

NHS fee = $585

Airfare (extra miles + ticket + bags + exit row seat) = $150 + $265 + $420 + $83 = $918

Homestay, 1 month (deposit + payment on arrival) = $289 + $536 = $825

School deposit = $2346

Total = $5176

and then my plane landed in England.

A few of my favorite things

IMG_20150822_084029IMG_20150822_141414IMG_20150823_135906IMG_20150903_141958

And when I saw a few, I mean a few.  This list is not exhaustive in any way, shape, or form.

  • I’m living with an Indian couple so I eat delicious authentic Punjabi food every other night.  I’m sure you’re jealous, and, if you’re not, you’ve probably never eaten Indian food.  Stop reading, go do that, then come back and be jealous.
  • PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.  Yes, I had to squeeze through a crowd so tight last night it felt like being given birth to all over again, but otherwise public transportation is thebomb.com.  I mean, I hate driving and like day drinking so it’s a win-win.
  • I don’t have to wear shorts and I get to wear sweaters all the time.
  • Walking, walking, everywhere.  It turns out the physical activity I was made for was leisurely strolls in beautiful parks.
  • There are so many dogs here.  On the street.  In cafes.  Big dogs, little dogs.
  • The museums are free so you don’t have to feel bad about leaving if it’s too busy/hot/boring for your tastes.
  • Tea time: basically a built-in period during the day for snacking.  Such a good idea.  Also, a great excuse to eat biscuits.
  • If I had done this move 10 years ago, I would have only been able to keep in touch with all of my friends and family via expensive international calls and e-mail.  Skype, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger have been godsends these last few weeks.  So, as much as I generally and pointlessly rail against social media, it has finally proved it’s utility to me.  Two for you, Social Media.  You go, Social Media. (I mean, someday we’ll have teleportation devices and distance will cease to matter at all, but that’s probably going to be the weird generational thing I turn Luddite over so I won’t be able to enjoy it.)
  • I’m going to see Nicole Kidman in a play.  So… yeah.
  • The sheer multiculturalism of London has astounded me.  You think you know what that word means when you’ve visited New York (and, to a lesser extent, Washington, D.C. or Boston) but it completely surrounds everything that happens here.  You would be hard-pressed not to interact with someone from outside the UK on a daily basis.
  • Want to go to Paris for the day?  Done.
  • Donald Trump is an ocean away.  Now that’s peace of mind.
  • People know how to pronounce my name.  I have not been called Ellen/Elaine/Irene once since I’ve gotten here.

Like I said, that’s not even a full list.  hashtag blessed.

And also, since it feels a bit weird not to mention, there is a great way to donate to the refugees pouring into Europe, specifically the ones currently in Calais: purchase a sleeping bag, sweatshirt, or food item for them from this wonderful wishlist. (UPDATE: the wishlist has now been closed)

Eileen

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

I messed up.

“But Eileen,” I hear you saying, in that shocked voice you save for only the truly egregious things in life, “I thought you didn’t make mistakes!”

Well, I mean, I don’t, it’s just that this time-

Okay, I can hear you rolling your eyes.  Rude.

Anyway, there is a lesson to be learned from this mess-up, which is why I’m telling you in the first place.  It’s not like the time I broke my toe on a vacuum cleaner or tried to scalp Duran Duran tickets.  No, this one’s constructive.

So, it’s November 27th, right?  I just got my admission email from school.  I’m psyched.  I’m trying to figure out where to start.

I put the turkey in the oven (it was Thanksgiving Day).

Plane tickets!  I’m going to need a plane ticket.  Obviously.  So I check Google Flights, one way tickets, Orlando to London… $400?!  Seriously?  What a deal!  Can I buy ten?

But wait.  I don’t know exactly which day I’m going to leave.  Where I’ll be living.  When school starts.  So I don’t buy the ticket.

But I watch.  Every day I check Google Flights.  As my plans begin to take shape and solidify, I consider buying the tickets.  Then one day I check Google Flights and – BAM! – $700.

“They’ll go down,” I reassure myself, then force everyone else to as well.

But they don’t.  They go up to $890.  Then they dip back down.  Then they hover in between.  But they never go below that $700 mark again.

Eventually I scrape my jaw off the floor and recover enough brain power to remember I have some miles with Alaska Airlines.  On the vague chance they have a flight to get me from one point to the other for under $800, I check.  It turns out they do.  A direct flight*, in fact, which I never thought was possible in my wildest dreams.  And it only costs me $450 if I buy a few extra miles.  The only thing to consider is…

I’m just kidding.  I bought it.  How stupid do you think I am?  Wait, don’t answer that.

Moral (or tl;dr for you youngin’s): Don’t wait until your airfare doubles to consider purchasing.  Buy early and often (after checking to make sure they can accommodate your luggage).

*Side note: who would have guessed Alaska Air would have a partnership with British Air?  Not me.  Or anybody in Alaska.

Helpful sites

Hello there.  Are you doing well?  Lovely.  I had two London-related dreams last night, and one was simply that the prices of plane tickets went down.  Yeah, sad.  The weird thing is, they actually had.

I think I might be psychic.

Anyway, there are a lot of websites out there aimed at making the transition from America to the UK as easy as possible but wading through them can be a bit overwhelming.  I’ve compiled some of the websites that have helped me the most in preparation for my move.

UK-Yankee Forum: I would say this website has been THE most helpful, since, as a forum, it is updated just as regularly as anybody needs it to be and you can ask individual, specialized questions.  The people on this forum KNOW what they’re talking about.  However, I will say you can spend too much time on here and make yourself worry about things that don’t pertain to you or have the smallest chance of happening.  If you’re a student like me, start with this board.

UKCISA: This site will take you through the basics of applying for school, getting funding, figuring out where to live, and getting your visa.  This is for the beginner who needs an overview of the process.

Homestay: Like Airbnb, but you’ll be living with the family who owns the home.  This is a good alternative to hostels or arranging for flats you’ve never seen.  A great advantage to this is that you’re living with people who know the city.

Zoopla: If you plan on living on your own or buying, check out Zoopla.  You can search by the kind of property you’re looking for or area such as post code.  Even if you planning on having flat mates, it can be a good springboard to give you an idea of what’s available in any given area.

Flatshare: The most popular website for finding flatmates, although there are more out there.  You can search for any number of factors including preferences in the ideal flatmate, but I tend to just search by location and price.  It’s good to look at even before you’re serious about looking just to give you an idea of what’s available and what you can expect price-wise.

Of interest:

London property prices by tube line map, international scholarships, check to see if your creative programme is accredited

This is by no means a complete or exhaustive list.  It’s just a good jumping off point from which to start preparing.

May the Fourth

Two bits of good news:

1. April is over.  Peace out, April!  Long live May! (actually, no, May, do not live long; live an ordinate and logical amount of time, please please please)

2. The ball has started rolling on my postgraduate funding!  I’ve completed my entrance counseling and master promissory notes, and my award letter has been sent to the Department of Education.  Now I get to wait until June or July (?!) to hear from them.

qmfpjpAT2fJRK

Yay!

May the Fourth be with you!

tumblr_n1rn51H5fQ1saxoydo1_500

 

The plot thickens (and becomes difficult to stir)

If you read my New Year’s post, you’ll know I filled out my 2015-2016 FAFSA as soon as possible, i.e. Jan 1.  I figured I would send an e-mail to the school just to get an idea of how long it would take to process the information and get back to me about how much I could ask for in loans and such.  I received an e-mail back from them saying they don’t usually process those requests until April.

This makes me anxious for 2 reasons: firstly, I like to get things done ASAP.  I know on their end they have a lot more to deal with than one girl’s financial aid information.  In fact, they might not be able to do anything about my financial aid until April because the US student loan office might not process them until then.  The timeline just worries me a little because they won’t get back to me until right before I apply for my visa – will that give me enough time to hear back from the US loans office and get my information in order for the visa application?  They’ve done this before and know what they’re doing.  I just need to have faith in the process and the people carrying it out.

Secondly, on a pettier level, I really just hate waiting.  I keep reminding myself that 2 months have already passed and things ARE getting done.  Yeah, it’s a long time to wait, but having 9 months to prepare means I will be as ready as I can be when I actually go.  I’m grateful to have this time with my friends and family, so that I can appreciate their company while I still have the chance.

Hopefully as the time draws closer I will have more helpful information to share and confirm that there is nothing to worry about time-wise.  For now, though, I just have the worry.  Thankfully I’ve started doing yoga.

download

Namaste.