Monday, September 25, 2006

corndogs, calzones, and quarters

Location: Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachussetts

The education system here is so different. Trying to get my head around state universities, community colleges, private schools, college funds, scholarships. In the UK it all boils down to 3 letters. And it being a liberal arts college, you have to do courses of all sorts, from gym classes to art appreciation. What you end up graduating in can be totally different to what you started out doing, they are so flexible here. I like that. Brandeis is so intense as well, compared to anything in London, its more like Oxford, yet its not even Ivy League. Nabilah has papers due every week, marks as much as 40% given for class participation, exams twice a semester.....and she's doing a BA!

This is my first experience of campus life, and I find it very isolated, especially if u don’t have a car. Not sure I could survive something like this, I've never lived outside a city. I'd love to do my masters here in the States, but it’d have to be somewhere like in New York, where people are everywhere, things are always moving, and you can walk to places.

Nabs has classes during the day so I went down to Boston myself one day. Sat around Harvard yard, ate my sandwich, watched people. I tried imagining myself surrounded by brilliant people, but it didn't work. I'm not sure what I was expecting, people with dictionaries for heads?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Shalom from Brandeis University

Location: Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

Been in the States for a week now.

Not much has happened in particular, me and Nabilah have mainly been chilling, catching up on waaaaay too much gossip, and eating until we want to burst.

I never gained the Freshers 15 back in London, but I’m guessing that I might compensate for that here in Brandeis. The portions served in this country are so big, we usually share one plate between ourselves. We have been cooking loads though, and we realised that we really enjoy doing simple things like that together. It may be our last time in a long time to get to chill out and just spend time, and Nabs is one of my bestest friends so I am really appreciating the quiet time together. I’ve been getting to know her friends, going to her classes, attending South Asian Soc meetings and friday Jumma prayers, and basically following her around everywhere and being a pest :P

We’ve been to Boston a few times so far, but there’s much more left to do. There’ll be a bit more traveling around from this weekend on, with trips to New York, Philly and Cape Cod planned. The first thing I thought of when we got to Harvard Square in Boston was that it looked more like London than anywhere else in the States. Makes sense, this being New England, and where the British landed first.

Staying with Nabs in Brandeis has certainly been interesting. If you didn’t know, it’s a Jewish college, and nearly everybody here is Jewish. I’m finding the dynamics of being a student here really interesting, but I shall not go into details lest I hurt sensitivities. Let’s just say we don’t discuss politics here. It’s ironic that I am from SOAS which is practically the antithesis of Brandeis.

We went to a campus bash on Friday evening, which was a lot of fun, albeit very very different to parties in London. Because the campus is in the middle of nowhere, most parties happen in the living rooms of dorms here. It’s all so very makeshift, I love it.

I’ve had to complete a long overdue article I’d been researching all of August, so I have been a tad lazy, doing not much else in the last week, I must admit. Nabs got me hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, and there is so much trash tv available to watch, it’s all I do some afternoons. Oops! (Sometimes it doesn't hurt to know about celebrity diets...)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

On a happier note

Location: London, England

I passed my driving test yesterday!

After taking my first ever driving lesson on 24th July 2006, and (ahem) 39 hours more later - I passed on my first try with only 5 minors!! Suck on THAT! :P

Sooo, the summer has officially ended with a feeling of accomplishment. I got my license.... and I also got offered a job working for a local weekly in London, which unfortunately I couldn't accept, but the offer in itself definitely gives me much-needed hope for the future.

So, yes, the future does look bright.

ps. did I mention I got my driver's license...?

the beginning of the end

Location: London, England

So on Monday, I fly to the States, where I will be for the next 5 weeks. Monday also signifies my last real day as a London resident. When I fly back in on October 13th, I return on a tourist visa (I say that phrase with disdain and dismay).

The emotional aspect of last 30 days in London is something I would rather not talk about on a blog. What can you really say to capture having to leave a city that has been home for you since the age of 16, and not know when you will be back again? All I take consolation in is that I am not the only one, this is in fact, for many others like me, the new post-modern way of living: Move, settle, pack up, leave and repeat. I'm 22, nearly 23 and I still don't really know where I see as my real home or where it will end up being. My next destination certainly isn't my last, and I have a feeling that is how it will keep going for awhile.

In terms of the physical journey - I thought I would spend my last month re-visiting all my favourite haunts and doing a 'trip down memory lane' type of journey through London, but I've actually ended up being so busy taking on a billion different projects, that I have ended up unable to. In a way, the busy-ness has been a blessing, giving me less time to sit down, contemplate and realise how heartbreaking my next move is going to be. And in another way, it is also a blessing because a 'trip down memory lane' reeks of goodbyes and never-agains. And that I refuse to accept.

Ok I know sometimes in my attempt to sound deep - i come off leaving people a little confused as to what is actually happening. BASICALLY I am leaving London for a minimum of 1 year, maybe 2 - and my first stop will be in Singapore, where my parents live. I'm not sure as yet whether I am gonna stay put there, because I have a few other options e.g. Bangladesh or the Middle East for my AIESEC traineeship. We shall see as time passes. The future is uncertain - so I shall have to update bit by bit.

Why am I not staying in London? Well, mainly because if I want to pursue my career as a journalist, I can't do so in the UK as it doesn't give out work permits to journalists. Apparently, it isn't a 'shortage' sector, like teaching, and to be honest I will someday either kill myself or kill my poor students should i go into school teaching permanently. And apparently, it is easier to get a permit to do mind-numbing factory-line banking jobs, than it is to do high-flying, exciting journalistic work. Go figure.

So there it is: between choosing life in London and life as a journalist, I choose the latter.

Do you sense my bitterness?