Getting Comfortable

During the awkward, post-info-session lunch with the other members of the English Department at Surrey (which our refreshingly blunt Program Director warned us would be awkward), I met one accomplished academic after another and, despite our PD saying we shouldn’t, did in fact feel unequal to the other scholars in the room. I came here with a clear idea of what I want to research and the story I want to tell…yet I felt silly talking about it. My supervisor took me aside before leaving and said something like “It wasn’t until the very end of my PhD that I got comfortable discussing my work. Don’t worry, it’ll get easier,” which made me feel simultaneously grateful and self-conscious. How do I sound talking about this? I thought. I actually think he may have overheard me at a point when I’d decided to change tack and, rather than give my scripted answer to the “what are you writing about?” question, distilled it down to the bare essentials: violence, murder, and insanity (the Big Three, amirite?). The same feeling of ineptitude crept in the other day when a flatmate asked me about my writing.

Creating anything is extremely personal. Add to that the fact that the mere thought of reading is extremely boring to some people, and that my writing occupies a somewhat small niche. All of this amounts to me deciding for the person I’m talking to ahead of time that they won’t be interested in what I have to say anyway — by all accounts a terrible habit. There’s no need to be apologetic when discussing your interests (unless your interests involve poking other people with sticks. Then you should definitely apologize). Especially since one of my favorite things about being in England so far has been the reaction I get when I answer the question, “What are you studying?” People have actually been excited when I’ve said, “creative writing” (and, incidentally, have made me feel like I could fly to the moon and back fueled only by awesomeness and the occasional Irn Bru). So, in addition to having amazing adventures here, my goal is to get much more comfortable discussing what I’m working on. Because if people didn’t really want to know, they wouldn’t ask, right? (Unless the question is, “You alright?” in which case they really don’t want to know.)

Monday, I opened a UK bank account (yay!) with Barclays. I’d heard so many good things, and so far everyone is right! The service there is fantastic, and…::drumroll::…NO FEES! I have never said (or typed) this before in my life but, YAAAAAAAAS!!! The only fee I’d have to pay is a flat rate to transfer funds in or out of a foreign account (Β£15 for EU accounts; Β£25 for non-EU accounts). But no monthly “maintenance” fees, no (in-country) transfer fees, and I do not owe them my first-born. ‘Tis glorious.

Before my bank appointment, I wandered around Guildford town centre. I found places I knew (like Waterstones, Pret A Manger, & Primark), and ton(ne)s more shops and restaurants to try. I’ve already eaten at Nando’s and Jamie’s Italian (both delicious).

I joined the mailing lists for a few organizations including the Postgrad Society, International Friends, No Wave Alt Music Club, and the Harry Potter club (RVNCLW4EVR), all of which have had some sort of welcome event that I’ve missed because I’ve either been in my room or in the library, reading. Didn’t the veteran PhDs say something about having a life outside of school…? Yeah, I should probably work on that. There are some pub crawls and quizzes happening in the near future that I’d like to do. I also reconnected with a friend in Oxford, and another working as an au pair in Spain, so I’ll be making my way to both places eventually (and around to as many other parts of the world as humanly possible), and I will blog about it here. LOAN MONIES, WHERE ART THOU? Srsly tho… where my money at.

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Now all I need is a UK mobile, a bus pass for ’round these here parts, and a railcard and I’ll be all set! I also think I’ve zeroed in on a good estate agency. Anyone out there work with Foxtons before or know someone who has? I’m itching to start seeing/doing things other than words/reading (though I will be buying more books because I can’t help myself. Don’t judge).

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Happy Wednesday, y’all!

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12 thoughts on “Getting Comfortable

  1. hey P&P gif at the end πŸ˜‰ I have trouble talking about things that are really personal, so I can’t even imagine doing what you’re doing, but you’re so inspiring, and thats awesome that your supervisor told you that, its nice to know you’re not alone, you know? and omg nandos and primark. i love them both. and miss them, sigh.

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    • I hoped you’d comment on that πŸ˜‰ Thank you so much; what a sweet thing to say. Never imagined myself inspiring anyone πŸ˜€ You’re right, it took a huge load off to hear him say those words. I keep having to remind myself that I don’t have to have it all together — either at 27 or 107.

      You should fly to England asap and we can eat chicken at Nando’s and buy clothes at Primark and talk about P&P all day long.

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  2. In no particular order: Foxtons is a pretty upmarket estate agents and generally has a good reputation. Glad you’re getting out and about – I’m not 100% sure but check the national rail website, you may be able to get a student rail card or discount card. Not sure what they call them, but if you can, it will help.

    Re your studies and talking about your writing, listen, it’s hard in the early days, but get easier, and sooner or later you have to bit the bullet and go for it. Jean Sibelius said, “Pay no attention to the critics. Nonone ever erected a statue to a critic.” Go girl!

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    • Thank you! Very encouraging. You’re absolutely right. Even if someone is bored by what I do or what I have to say, that’s not the end of the world! For every bored person there’s one who will at least be interested, if not captivated πŸ˜‰ And huzzah! I had a good feeling about Foxtons after the bit of research I’ve done. Glad to know they are indeed reputable!

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  3. With all estate agencies in England, there’s a huge variety of quality within different branches. Foxton’s might be great in one neighbourhood of London, but then absolute swindlers in another. You just have to go with your gut! And be prepared to give them all your money 😦 x

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    • I’ve really been trying to come to grips with that last part :/ Ugh… They have signs in front of LOTS of properties here, so either they’ve got a bit of a monopoly going or they’re trustworthy. Or both. Or neither. My gut (at least for now — we’ll see how I feel once I’ve actually met with one of their agents) says they’re a good place to start at least. I’ll keep ya updated! x

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