I was sitting on a low wall outside the porters lodge at Teddy Hall this afternoon, waiting with Janosz for Chocolate Enthusiasts Club to start. One of our fellow chocolate tasters innocently asked me, “How was your first week?” I stared at him in confusion, not because I didn’t understand the question or because it was an odd thing to ask, but I realized that I could barely remember the past six days. Chalk it up to a massive stress reaction but this whole week has blended together into one panicked whirl winded blur.
Stress was the last thing that I anticipated this week. I finished my first of two essays on Sunday and the second one on Tuesday; I only have two lectures a week. The only worry I expected to have was scrounging meals together from the hodgepodge of leftover groceries that I had left (grocery shopping every week from now on, no putting it off for just one more week). I was getting decent responses from everyone paying for their stash, and I even figured heck, why not hang out with Dan on Tuesday after practice? After all, I had time. Tutorial wasn’t until Thursday.
And then all hell broke lose.
Before I explain, I need to state a caveat. While the remaining part of the week left me miserable, exhausted, panicky, anxious, and near tears more than once, the stress sources were all good things. I know what you’re thinking–or what I would be thinking having just read the end of the story before I read the beginning–how could good stress leave me such a mess? Let me start with a prologue.
The average college student in the US graduates in about four years. Having done AOC Middle College for my last two years of high school and just being the general crazy person I am, I was set to graduate UCLA in four years with a double major in Psych and Political Science. Once I realized this summer that I in fact cannot stand the US political system and don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing it, I switched to just Psychology before leaving for Oxford. My 4 years became 3 1/2. Then I came back for Winter Break and spoke with my Honors counselor about the possibility of graduating early, only to be told that I had a residency requirement to fulfill and that there was no way to petition that away. Three and a half became four again. Two days later I get a phone call saying that there is a study-abroad loophole in the residency requirement and thus I already fulfilled it. Four years was now THREE.
My plan was then to graduate UCLA at the end of summer and start my D.Phil back at Oxford hopefully in January 2013. But one fateful conversation with Dan had me researching the full extent of my options for applying to grad school at Oxford. So I found out on Friday of last week that the final deadline is March 9th, plenty of time to fill out an application and get in my references. I won’t be eligible for funding during my first year because of the later application date (hereby accepting donations) but I can still apply! Meaning if I get in, I will be heading back to Oxford next October for my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology.
Doesn’t sound too stressful yet right? Just wait.
On Tuesday after lecture, my tutor and I discussed my options and she was thrilled to hear my ambitions, thought I had a strong resume, and agreed to be my supervisor for the next three years. Oh, and she will write my recommendation, as will one of the leading attributional psychologist in the field, and the graduate student I did research for last year. A solid three strong references 🙂 But then on Tuesday night, the first night of my irritatingly back insomnia, I was searching for possible sources of funding (seriously, send donations) and discovered that if I applied back to Teddy Hall for my D.Phil, I could still make the deadline to apply for college funding, possibly reducing my fees a teeny bit (so send cash or check). Deadline: FRIDAY JANUARY 20.
Within 72 hours, I would need two recommendation letters, an unofficial transcript, a new resume, and a graduate research proposal. Remember, the week before I had only just found out that I was potentially graduating, two days before I had found out that I could apply back to Oxford for Fall, and twelve hours before I had found a research supervisor. Now I needed to decide what I was actually going to study for the next three years and write a proposal with a well-formed and well-researched hypothesis and a description of the myriad experiments I was going to do over the next few years. In less than 3 days.
I’m glad everyone else had so much faith in me, because I totally didn’t. Maybe I would have if I wasn’t so caught off guard and I had nothing else to do for the rest of the week, but when is that truly ever the case? I had to organize the stash order and collect all the money, arrange for pickup, etc. I had two days of running research subjects and both days I had problems with the computers. I had the most killer ballroom and Latin rehearsals of my career (Latin Rehearsal was renamed Latin Bootcamp) and two tutorials. Deer+Headlights=
Somehow I managed to do it all. I’m not going to go into details about all the little things that got in my way or the obstacles that lead my to calling my parents at 3 am LA time because I was about to have a panic attack because all that matters is that the funding application got it, the research subjects were run, my first tutor loved my essay (my second tutor spent our tutorial revising my proposal), stash has been paid for/picked up/disseminated, grocery shopping has been done, and I am taking today off. I haven’t slept in days and am so worn down from the constant panic and anxiety attacks that I am allowing myself one day without even picking up a textbook. Because somehow, I DID IT.
Did I mention that there was a crew date last night as well? No? Well, I’ll tell you all about that later (sneak preview, it was actually with a crew team) because I want a well-earned nap.
On a not so stressed note, I did see the Russian State Ballet perform both Giselle and Sleeping Beauty with Kelsi. Giselle was stunning! Though it did make me miss ballet.
Send me money.