Yes, London is different and, to its credit, I am a different person here. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I’ve decided that the hinge point of all this change is that, for the first time in my academic career, I have time.
I am coming from a college with nearly double the in-class hours, where I work three jobs, and have an insatiable desire to accumulate responsibility. There are really no “stop and smell the roses” moments, there are hardly even “stop” moments.
Here, I am free of so many of those commitments. Also free of that income, but I am very much in denial about that…
I am free from this crazy school-imposed, but also self-imposed, schedule of running around, falling behind, and being so exhausted that I hit my mattress every night like a rock.
The first and, to me, most jarring symptom of this new phenomenon is that I am actually reading. Which, in the realm of the acceptable, is not surprising or interesting but, in the realm of the real, is a first for me. Not only am I genuinely making contact with every text that I am assigned but I am reading… novels. Please hold your applause.
I am also realizing that (basically) all I want to do is sit outside. At my college in the US I sprint from class to work to class to club meetings to work to bed but here I take walks along the canal, explore neighborhoods, and sit on benches. I feel like a well-to-do elderly person. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
All of this time, in addition to changing my habits, has also reframed the experience of courses, transforming them from this well of dread on the horizon to a welcome chance to sit and discuss. A reminder that I am an academically-inclined person and not a captive of academia.
To be sure, I love my school in the US. I have been afforded so many opportunities to be involved in different clubs and jobs and classes and there is something exhilarating about pulling it all off and yet, I think I really needed this. As much as I have come to love the hustle, I am so glad to be writing to you as a newly well-rested and recently emotionally-balanced student in a city full of possibilities and with so much time to explore it for myself.