I can’t wait to go home and eat mushy peas
The time has come. It seemed unrealistic, faraway, impossible perhaps. But it has happened. That time of year has arrived and I want to scream about it from the top of a parking lot (note the unfortunate integration of American words into my vocabulary, y’all).
But I did it. I survived my first year in an American grad school.
Okay, 10 months. But still, I did it. And I really didn’t think I was going to. I’ve had my ups, downs, lefts, rights, and all of those dichotomies, etc. etc. And now, I’m ready to go home. And specifically, eat mushy peas.
First of all, before I reveal my ultimate secret for surviving in America—specifically in grad school—I just have to mention a little thing that’s bugged me while I’ve been here. Why does literally everybody use the word “dichotomy” all the time, in all my classes, in all contexts?! I had no idea what it meant for about 8 months, and then finally, I pushed my ego aside and googled it.
WHY CAN’T PEOPLE JUST SAY ‘CONTRAST’?!
Seriously, though. I had never heard that word used before outside of an academic context. And suddenly, there I was, sat in Falafel King, and a barely pubescent guy starts talking about the dichotomy between his ex-girlfriend and his current “fwb.”*
*A theoretical concept that I had previously considered a mysterious phenomenon confined to the minds of guys, who wanted the ‘physical’ benefits of a girlfriend, but who had solemnly swore themselves to stay in a loving, exclusive ‘emotional’ relationship with CoD. At the risk of sounding sexist, you can change ‘girlfriend’ to ‘boyfriend,’ and ‘CoD’ with any one—or all—of the guys from One Direction. Are they even still a band? Does CoD even exist anymore?? God, I think I’ve become so much of a hermit that I have no idea what the current trends or ‘hip’ things young people do, or listen to, these days… But, I digress.
This young boy was using the word “dichotomy” so casually in reference to his conquests, and I had no frigging idea what it meant. So yeah, dichotomy. It bothers me. Anyway, I didn’t resurface onto the interwebs to talk about the definition and appropriate contextual (in my mind) application of “dichotomy.”
I’m back because, after the toughest, roughest, and meanest however long it’s been since my last post, I finally have time. That’s right. I have time. More specifically, free time. And I have no idea what to do with it. So I’m watching Netflix and reaffirming to those who are painstakingly reading this that I am, indeed, still alive. In case you were wondering/concerned.
OMG SO MUCH FREE TIME (I have currently had four hours of it!!)
In fact, during this newly bestowed free time, I have:
watched one season, out of seven, of an unbelievably horrific TV series on Netflix (for those who are wondering, it’s called ‘Psych’ and I don’t recommend it. However I’m going to work my way through all seven seasons, just to make sure. And also because, hey, I have free time y’all);
firmly decided that I’m going to be a novelist/painter/pottery master after graduating because hippie life is my true calling;
eaten half a bag of shredded (low-fat) mozzarella cheese;
not reached the coveted 2048 square on the most annoying app in the world;
trawled through painfully pointless articles on Buzzfeed (however, I can’t judge right now, because I’m writing this).
As you can see. I have been using my free time wisely, and productively. Seriously, don’t all get jealous at once. My life is unbearably riveting.
How I did it. That is, how I survived grad school.
Back to the point I’m trying to make: I survived my first year of grad school. And I’m going to tell you how right now. The big reveal. It’s here.
Don’t do it.
And there you go. The secret of how I survived: I wished, every second of every day, that I hadn’t made that stupid decision to come to grad school.
As a consequence of thinking this thought, during every waking moment, of every single day, I didn’t pay attention to the time that was in fact passing by. And suddenly, now I’m here. Out of the “I hate grad school” haze. Alive. Surviving. I focussed so much on what I wanted to do in the future; what I wanted to be doing instead of writing that f*#%$!g paper; and what I would have been doing if I hadn’t come here, that by the time I’d finished cursing my life, and every single article written by every single biblical scholar, it was suddenly May 7th. And the time had arrived. My first year was over.
Bring on second year. I have the key to survival.
Okay, so I’m being a teeny bit over-dramatic.
I can’t help it. Grad school will, I repeat will make you crazy. I think by the end of this semester, I’m certainly questioning that decision I made to dedicate two years of my life to this tormenting, never-ending nightmare.
Breathe. Relax. Think. Remember —
It wasn’t so bad.
I’ve drank out of one of those red solo cups. And then been sick in it. I’ve seen (albeit missed most of it) a baseball game. I’ve rowed in a disgusting river in Tennessee, and we came last. I’ve ticked a whole bunch of movies off my Netflix List. I turned 23. I wrote a term paper longer than my undergraduate dissertation. I learned how to speak elementary German. And forgot how to speak proper British English. I went to my first, real, American thanksgiving. I ate a waffle, with chicken tenders and hot sauce. I got addicted to Southern sweetened iced tea. I’ve done so much, and I wish I could list it all. But most importantly, and I’m not been sarcastic, I’m actually being deadly serious, no joke…
I have made some fantastic, supportive, beautiful, persevering, ridiculously hilarious, open-minded, intelligent, no boundaries allowed, life-long friends.
Grad School: A dichotomous relationship
Sure, I may have been consumed (and almost defeated) by grad school this year. But listen, I’m a biblical studies student. That stuff isn’t meant to be easy. So, just like Jonah and that whale, I’ve been spat back out; I’m a little bit worse for wear, but I’m also a little bit stronger, a little bit smarter, and a little bit wiser. I’ve resurfaced and surprisingly, I’m still a whole (partially sane) person. But as a result, I’ve re-emerged fully appreciative of the opportunities that life has thrown at me (even if they did hurt at first). And I’m actually looking forward to doing this all again in a couple of months. I repeat, a couple of months. I need a rest first, to recover, to rejuvenate and let all of this sink in, and finally, to strategize for success when I come back in August.
I crossed a boundary when I came here. I took a chance, and I came to a country I’d never been to before. I took a chance, and I decided to study and make a life here. I crossed territories, boundaries, limitations, and ultimately, I got an experience.
In the end, that’s all I asked for. An experience. And this year, I got just that. I can’t complain.
But hey, I’m British. Give me a break. I was born to complain. That’s why God gave us these accents. Because they’re so goddamn beautiful to listen to, and consequently you don’t have to listen to what we’re actually complaining about. I know this is a blog post, you’re reading this (maybe), and you can’t hear my beautiful British accent. So here, forgive me, have a picture of a cat.