You could say life since acceptance into grad school has been a bit of a wild ride for me. These days (and nights), I struggle for breath throughout my routine, steady myself to ride out my irregular heartbeat, and wake up at all hours of the night in pools of cool sweat.
So how did we get here? Back track to a few months ago…
On a very rainy day I find myself in my office on a long weekend, alone. I am trying to teach myself python a-la-Massive Open Online Course, however, I have reached my point of saturation and am jamming out, singing aloud to my favorite tunes.
While serenading myself some low-key Drake, I receive the email that would change my life.
Congratulations [Kathleen Jack] you have been admitted to the Dual Degree Programme at Sciences Po (Paris) and the London School of Economics. Welcome to the class of 2019.
Blood rushed to my head, my stomach was set a flame with joyous butterflies and I instantly started joy-crying (this is not unusual for me, when emotions happen, bring out the waterworks). Tearfully, I call a small handful of family and friends to share my utter-joy. This is it, I think to myself.
My unbridled joy an enthusiasm carries me through the next week on a cloud as I consult my closest allies as to what I should do in this situation. Consultation after consultation with my trusted undergraduate professors, colleagues at work, other mentors, and loved friends, my choice is validated with all of positive enforcement that I needed. No deferrals. No doubts. I am going.
Then the dream ended.
I was forced to deeply recognize what I would be truly committing to over the course of the next 2 years: potentially over $130,000 CND of debt, moving to a country for my first year where I do not know the language, and facing my greatest fear in absence of knowing a single soul in my soon-to-be new home: being lonely. I am plunging into a new ambiguity, filled with jarring uncertainty and unknown hurdles.
The relentlessness of the Paris housing market left me triggered and anxious in every moment of my every day. I was hit by what felt like insurmountable walls of paper work in a language I don’t speak. I ran endless debt repayment scenarios and felt the sting of guilt that can only be described as child-like when I asked my mom if she could help me. (Of course she said yes, love you to the ends of the earth, Mama). Doubt invaded my psyche, coursing through my veins and with every thought and I wondered deep down in my soul: do I truly deserve this?
The past few months have been a blur.
Any instance of a flinch or expression of doubt appears to be arrogant owing to reputation of these incredible schools; however, the truth is I feel trapped and freed, desperately hopeless and unwittingly hopeful all at the same time in advance of my next move. I deflect questions about my new program and delay purchasing my flight. This whole process has been very humbling and utterly terrifying for me.
Gradually, however, I am adjusting to the exciting shock of the unknown. I have used my spare time to pick up some books about French and have been greeted by the warm embrace of my new program’s Facebook page. These things give me small comforts and I look so earnestly forward to meeting the incredible people who will be a part of my cohort. Until my departure I will be hopeful, breathe, smile, live and embrace the calm before the adventure into an unknown future that, I’m confident, will be the ride of a lifetime!
With love from an anxious soon-to-be grad student,