The Future’s Bright, The Future’s…Fulbright?

So today I had a little day out with my careers advisor.  You may be wondering if that’s a typo…does she mean carer/advisor? After my last couple of posts you’d be forgiven if you thought otherwise, but no, I’m definitely talking career, rather than mental health. 

I’ve seen her a couple of times during my time at uni; once, before I started my second year and was concerned that time was flying by far too quickly and that I needed some ‘relevant work experience’.  We agreed that Siren FM would be a good place to gain some experience on campus, and off I went.  At the time, I was still working and studying full-time, as well as working a full day at the weekend to save up money for my study abroad, which was looming and due to start in January 2010. 

Before I carry on, I will address this issue of working and studying full-time.  I was contracted to work 37.5 hours a week at the hospital.  In my second year at Lincoln, I had 7 hours class time, with lectures spread over 4 times during the week.  Add an hour’s travelling – walking to and from the hospital, as well as a little contingency time to make sure I wasn’t late for class – and I was leaving the house at 7am and getting home sometime between 6 and 7pm every night (it took me 25 minutes to walk to and from work).  In addition, doing around 7.5 hours every Saturday or Sunday, usually starting by 8am in order to be finished at a reasonable time, and walking around 6-8 miles a day, it left me exhausted with not much time to do anything else.

The point I’m trying to make, I guess, is that I did go to Siren FM.  I sat in on Andrew David’s show and had intended to sit in on my Alex Lewczuk’s  (one of my lecturers) show too.  But the day I was due to, everything became too much and very tearfully I told Alex that I just couldn’t see that I had time to do anything for Siren. 

The next time I saw my careers lady, around a year later, I’d had my study abroad experience, I’d started my final year at university, had a well established career with Siren, and was looking forward to finishing uni and doing Work America through BUNAC next summer.  Everything seemed to be going to plan.  But I hadn’t anticipated the gravity of one little problem.  I couldn’t concentrate.  I had no motivation.  I had a quarter of my dissertation done, but somewhere around October/November, when my coursework started to be due, I was completely unable to get on with my assignments.  But this wasn’t a new problem.  I’d had issues for the last year, even while studying in the States, in getting my coursework finished.  So, shortly before Christmas, I ended up suspending my studies.  Once more, after the new year, I made an appointment with my careers lady, this time to get some advice on what I could do while I wasn’t studying.  I had an opportunity to do some paid work coming up in the new year, so we talked a lot about writing, and the many outlets I could use to get more experience, including writing competitions and blogging, and the importance of having an online presence.  We also discussed Fulbright Scholarships, founded after World War II to promote peace by fostering cultural education through mutual exchange, which offer UK students the opportunity to study in the US (as well as giving US students the same opportunity in the UK).   She told me that she may be going to a Fulbright presentation at another university in February, and that she would see if I could come along. 

Well the job “opportunity” turned out not to be quite what was expected, which started off a chain of events, some of which you will have read about if you’ve read my previous blogs.  But basically, I went from taking some time out from my studies, expecting to gain some relevant and worthwhile work experience in the meantime, to my whole world crashing down around me, and my confidence completely shot. 

Earlier this week, I remembered about the Fulbright presentation being sometime in February.  I rang my careers lady, who told me she was going in two days’ time, and I arranged to meet her at the train station. 

On the train, we had a long chat about things (a lot about my life, but I don’t think she minded), and I realised how many great opportunities I had going for me, by what I was doing for Siren, and by my blogging.  By the time we arrived at the presentation, I was already feeling über positive, and ready to hear all about ‘Postgraduate Study in the US’.

After hearing all about the opportunities and funding available for international students in the US, to do postgraduate studies, I was so excited, I just wanted to go straight into a PhD!  (For those of you who don’t know, the average PhD in the States takes between four and six years.)  The idea of being able to do further study and research in the US, into feminine literature, gender studies, maybe even creative writing, everything I loved about my undergraduate degree, was overwhelming.  I saw the possibilities.  I saw the opportunities to return to the US, to study, to work, to write.  I saw my life turn into colour again. 

I feel like the life that spent so  long draining out of me, is being poured back in, like a glossy photograph, with colours so intense you need Wayfarers to stop  yourself going blind.  I am so excited for the future right now. 

There is a very tiny voice in the back of my mind, gently reminding me that when you suffer from depression, you’re prone to very high highs, and extremely low lows.  Tomorrow this could all be a distant memory, and I could be back to another PJ day.  But the louder voice in my head is that of my careers advisor, aka my Fairy Godmother, telling me that I can do it, that this path is open to me.  All I need to finish my degree is the right motivation; that to continue is the key to the future.  That there IS a future.     

I wrote a modern-day fairy tale last year, my first ever short story, called The Princess and the Epiphany.  It was this piece of writing that convinced me I wanted to be a writer.  In that story, the Fairy Godmother is there to show the Princess the way towards finding her career, and happiness, rather than just waiting for her Prince to come and make her happy.  I think I finally found my Fairy Godmother.  The epiphany is happening…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tehkelsey
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 00:35:21

    So many people I know have felt so lost after coming back from studying abroad (myself included. I can’t really say here the effect that returning to Juniata had on me after a year in the UK). You always hear about “reverse culture shock” but I don’t think that prepares you for anything. It’s really hard getting out of the hole it burns in you, so I just want to say, I really have faith in you to do all of the things you’ve listed here.

    Oh, and P.S. You’re ALREADY a writer, you just aren’t getting paid for it 😛


    • 33andlostinlife
      Feb 19, 2012 @ 18:17:41

      I have nothing but love and admiration for those who study abroad. I think it does great things to you, changes you for the better, makes you appreciate the world beyond your doorstep and the friends you can meet. The problem is that the world you leave behind doesn’t change, and it’s hard to adapt back into that life, and for the people who remained there, sometimes to appreciate how hard it is for you to fit back into their world.


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