Updates on Oz

kangaroo

Following countless questions in regards to my plans to trot across the globe, I thought it best to provide some more details on my venture to the outback.

I have purchased a flight and officially depart the U.S.A on February 3rd, 2015. Yes, I know, it’s still months away, but since I found out in April and it is now mid October, I’m convinced time is flying past me, and I have already woken up once thinking my plane had left without me. Even harder than that transition of continents will be my departure from the great state of North Carolina- my adopted home state (in spite of despising sweet tea-sorrynotsorry) for the last 17 years. My family has since moved back to the Midwest (still planning to return to the east coast someday), but my “home” has always been here. I know this state, I know these people, and I love the life I have. So on December 15th (approximately) when I pile all my worldly possessions into my little hyundai hatchback (flashback to college when I did that for the first time), I will still feel like I’m leaving part of me here.

Anyway, back to updates. The application process for my planned graduate school in Australia was, to say the least, arduous. Due to changes in their system, a few glitches in the application (and maybe in small part due to the Aussie’s ‘no worries’ laid back lifestyle), it took over two months to get my full application in. Before the questions abound, yes I have a flight before I have a school, kind of. My situation is quite unique in that my boss from Duke (who now works in Oz) has a couple PhD spots available to offer at his discretion. So while I still need to go through the hullabaloo (wonder if the Aussie’s know that word!) of applying for both admission and a scholarship, I really just need to meet their minimums. Obviously meeting minimums has never been a mantra of mine,  so I put a fair amount of work into the application hoping to earn admission and scholarship off my own merits (but it’s nice to know that either way I have a place).

In any event, I won’t hear back about admission for a few weeks-months still and scholarships aren’t even considered til mid-December. Now you see why it’s pretty necessary to commit to a flight over early on, as if I waited for the actual news, my already pricey flight would’ve shot up like a rocket. My mom and I have previously joked about how selling my car was just so I could pay for the flight over (thankfully not true, but not terribly far off either).

Through a series of very FORTUNATE events, I’ve also been in contact with a potential roommate in Melbourne. The whole thing is a bit crazy, but I’ll save the story for when everything is set in stone, and I feel sure enough to type it without jinxing it’s perfection.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a short-term move for me. For some reason, a vast majority of the people I’ve spoken to are under the impression that a doctoral degree takes only 1-2 years. Boy, I wish. Even with my Masters, and even with the course load abroad being less cumbersome (as the focus in international schools is research, while U.S. schools require 1-2 years of classes and then research), this adventure will last 3-4 years. It seems like a long time, and it is. This isn’t a semester abroad or a year of “toughing it out,” and it’s also not an Australian vacation. It’s an opportunity to advance myself in a field I love. I’ve had a lot of jobs throughout my life, but this is my big break to set myself up for a career (read more about my aussie adventure opportunity here: https://time2begin.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/defining-moment ).

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from friends and family regarding this move and so much support. It still kind of surprises me, however, that the most common response is something along the lines of “you’re so brave.” Really? I don’t feel brave. I feel like anyone in my position would have made the same choice I did. Now maybe from your position (you might have a family, significant other, budding career, etc) it seems an impossible choice, but from my viewpoint, going seemed like not only the best choice, but the right one as well. Don’t get me wrong, when I first heard the opportunity was real, there were definitely tears, and I honestly can’t tell you whether they were happy or sad. Can you cry both at the same time? I feel it was both. I’m leaving everything I know for an opportunity to earn what I want in the unknown. So maybe it could be described as brave…I guess I can see traversing into the unknown in that light. To me, however, I’m simply reaching. I’m reaching past the limits I once set for myself. I’m reaching past the limits of where I thought my life would lead, and though it is a bit scary, it’s also incredibly exhilarating.

Everyone’s life won’t lead them to a new country or doctoral program, but we all have things we’d like to reach for but don’t because we see limits. True, sometimes in life there are indeed realistic limits to what we can do, but oftentimes the limits we see are self imposed. Stop setting limits. Stop throwing up walls because you think you can’t or think you shouldn’t. Reach high. I can’t say you’ll always touch the stars, but I promise if you don’t try, you’ll never even come close. Your future is unlimited…who are you to say otherwise?

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Moving on

Moving is taxing. It’s always been one of my least favorite things to do. Some people enjoy the fresh start and clean slate that comes with purging half of one’s belongings, but for a self-proclaimed hoarder like myself, this concept has always been panic-attack worthy. With that stage set, you can maybe comprehend why the idea of moving not once, but THREE times in the next ten months is overwhelming me. I will move to a new apartment the end of May, move home to Iowa in December, and then for the coup de gras I depart for Australia early February 2015. That’s a lot of moving, a lot of donating, and a lot of stress.

You see, I love playbills, ticket stubs, and keychains…and most close friends also readily acknowledge and accept my growing collection of piggy banks. I still own clothes I’ve had since high school. I have so many clothes, in fact, that I rotate my closet seasonally as all of my wardrobe will not fit in my walk-in closet. I have more pairs of shoes than I can even count, yet I dutifully wear and rotate only 10 or so pairs, and I can’t fail to mention my massive sweatpant collection. Thank you Meredith College. Between Cornhuskin’ (don’t ask if you don’t know) and my basketball team I have at least 7 complete mementos–er I mean, sweat pant sets. All these without even mentioning my EXTENSIVE Meredith t-shirt collection…let the panic-attack commence…

The last couple of days I’ve found myself sitting silently in the apartment mentally listing off things I want to save and things I can finally let go of. I surprised myself with how much I was willing to categorize in the latter. Keepsakes I’d held onto since highschool had suddenly become less important- less crucial to my world moving forward. I suppose time does that a bit. Time gives perspective and value to what and who truly matters. I suddenly felt this rush of peace as I saw my “material world” shrink down to what I really valued. None of this is to say my mom’s car will be empty when she comes to drive some of my stuff back to Iowa this summer–no it will most assuredly be quite full (packed to the brim in fact), but for the first time I could imagine myself being able to pack my life up into a couple suitcases and move across the world.

I love my apartment. I love my comfy mattress, all my pictures, my giant TV and my huge closet, but when I think about what I really NEED, my list shrinks drastically. I’m lucky to have so many things I want and enjoy here, and I’m sure when I get to Oz I will fill my world right back up, but here I am figuring out how much I can do without…and for the first time (in forever- ha Frozen, love that movie) I can understand why people can find the process of moving on relaxing and cleansing.

Moving, if done correctly, helps you find the initiative to clear the baggage out of your life- both physical and emotional. Everyone has a pair of shoes and a friendship they keep “just in case,” and a move gives you a reason to reevaluate both. I’m excited to sift through my past and take what I need and leave the rest behind. The moves I’m making this year and next are for me, and while they are still stressful and anxiety ridden, I can’t wait to see where I end up.