Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dream and Remember

It's a wonder anybody [there] does anything but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.
-William Yeats-

Sorry for my silence of late, but there have been some mighty changes afoot in my life. Well, actually there haven't been any changes yet, but until this morning I was waiting in a state of semi-paralyzed anxiety in my hopes to get the opportunity to have some mighty changes afoot in my life. 

Wait, what am I talking about? Well, this:


That's right, folks.


I AM GRAD SCHOOL BOUND, BABY.

I applied to Oxford, the site of my junior year study abroad as an undergraduate, at what could only realistically be seen as the last possible second (think deciding-to-apply-2-weeks-before-the-last-round-deadline levels of last possible second). I did it largely as a test of my own commitment, and a challenge to myself to actually see an application through to the end (I had attempted to apply to American graduate schools several times through the fall and always trailed off to nothing after a few days of fervor), and applied in a field that seemed interesting but not like something that I had any reasonable chance of being accepted in (modern British history - a subject about which I know hilariously little as a French art history major and an American history minor). I wrote my personal statement largely about photography, and only tangentially tied my argument into history at the very end. I had no test scores and no relevant internship or job experience to bolster my resume. When the deadline came in early January, I sent it off with the grim certitude of a dead man. I felt sure that there was no chance I was getting in to one of the most famous and venerable universities in the world on qualifications as suspect as my own.

And yet, over the next few months, I allowed myself a brief daydream about Oxford every single day. Since I've experienced the university once before (albeit in the semi-outsider role of a two-term study abroad student, operating under the aegis of Stanford), the visions I had of myself as a real-life student there were painfully vivid: studying in the cool white window light of the RadCam, taking meals in the wood-paneled Harry Potter fantasy worlds that apparently pass for dining halls there, knocking back cellar-temp real British pints of Old Rosie under the low thatched roof of the Turf, playing croquet on the lawn of an impossibly perfect college quadrangle. 

(Just some casual Oxford loveliness)

Though I had applied on a lark, these dreams made me realize that I wanted it so badly that it physically hurt. I honestly felt like my chances were so slim, however, that I beat myself up every time I even allowed a thought of the future to pass through my mind. I told almost no one of my application, even my own parents, for fear of invoking a bizarre jinx upon myself. For two months, I waited, hoped, prayed, feared.

It was too much. Starting in mid-February, a full month and a half before the stated dates for decision emails to start winging their way towards prospective applicants, I began getting a deep rumple of discomfort every single time I checked my email (which, for the record, I do a lot). I was fairly certain I was going to develop a serious stomach ulcer at the rate I was going. I found the blogs of other Oxford students and read them with a jangling mix of envy, hope, and fatalism. All these people whose lives I read about seemed so amazing and brilliant; meanwhile, I couldn't name more than 4 British Prime ministers and was attempting to gain admission to the UK's most prestigious university in a program(me) in British History. I felt like the sham of shams. 

When the email came this morning (mercifully, two weeks earlier than I was expecting), my heart performed a series of calisthenics I'm not sure I've ever put it through before, screeching to a halt briefly before taking up an uncomfortable, adrenaline-pumping tattoo that oscillated sickeningly over the length of my entire body from my ears all the way to the tips of my toes. Shaking all over (was finding out about college this nerve-wracking??! I think I must have been more clueless about the importance of that situation), I dubiously clicked the document open.

No way. 

No. Freakin. Way.

I'm still in a state of shock. I spent all day at work, while alternatively begging a faulty freight elevator not to trap me between floors and lugging heavy boxes from one Boston gallery to another, in a deep fog. How could this be real? How could my life be real? 

What the *%$# had I just gotten myself into??!

There are an enormous amount of logistics to sort out between here and my matriculation in October, the cost of admission and the fate of the horses obviously vying for top spot as the biggest priorities and concerns. But those will have to wait for another day, because in the meantime, it's time to for one night of absolutely care-fee celebration!!! POP BOTTLES, BITCHES!!!

(Some bubbly and British beer to toast a successful application!)

21 comments:

Chelsea said...

Amazing and congratulations!

Carrot Top said...

Congratulations! You sound like you are popping off the walls in excitement :)

Katie said...

Congratulations! I studied abroad at Oxford as an undergrad as well - there's just something about the place that completely enchanted me. I recognize that lawn as well - I walked by that college all of the time heading towards the college fields! How exciting that you get to go back!

j. said...

Huge congrats, Kate! Also, could that acceptance letter be any more dry / devoid of excitement / British?? Love it. Love you!
-Jaslyn

SprinklerBandit said...

How exciting!! I'm looking forward to amazing pictures. :)

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks, guys! and Jaslyn, you're not wrong; it was juuuuust dry enough that I had to reread the letter like 8 times making sure they weren't actually rejecting me. Classic Britons.

L.Williams said...

Congrats! I too am Grad School bound and so looking forward to it!

Elena said...

Not gonna lie, I am super jealous as I am borderline obsessed with Oxford. So excited for you though and HUGE congrats! Do you know what college you'll be at?

Katherine Erickson said...

Congrats L Williams, that's awesome!

Elena, I don't know my college yet (for some reason, Oxford has decided that it would be a good idea to spread the initial offer and college decision out over a series of agonizing weeks... gaaaahh), but I definitely have a few that I'm crossing my fingers for! Graduate admission is a little different than undergrad (where you apply to a specific college from the outset), so I could end up anywhere.

jenj said...

Woohoo! Congrads!!!

Happy Pony said...

Very impressive! Congratulations! I also loved the letter :)

Megs said...

Congratulations, this is huge! What an experience it will be. I don't think you can do much better than having Oxford on your resumé.

AmberRose- Girl With a Dream said...

this is amazing news congrats

Kate said...

Wow, congrats! That's fantastic!! I'm also pretty jealous, though I admit I'm not too sure I'd enjoy modern British history... ;)
Just out of curiosity, what are your top colleges? If you don't mind me asking, that is.

Katherine Erickson said...

Haha yes, it's definitely going to be a change from my previous studies, but I really wanted to study WWI and WWII (my American history minor concentration was in modern warfare, so this part of my application at least wasn't totally out of left field) and this was the best program to fit the bill.

I'm really crossing my fingers for a larger and older (founded before 1700) college, because I'd like a larger pool of people to interact with ('large' in Oxford terms is still under 1000 for the total college population, so quite small by American university standards) and because the older colleges are the ones that feel most quintessentially Oxford to me. I was allowed to list one preferred college on my application and I went with Trinity (the college that I included a picture of in my blog), because it is large, older, and in my opinion the prettiest of them all.

But every college is amazing in its own way and I know I'm going to be thrilled wherever I end up! When I studied abroad I didn't end up getting affiliated with the college I'd hoped for (I was with Corpus Christi and had been hoping for Magdalen), but still ended up loving it. So while I'm crossing my fingers for a select few (Trinity, Christ Church, Queen's, Balliol, St John's all jump to mind), I'm not stressed about ending up in the wrong place :)

Hillary said...

Congrats!

T Myers said...

Congrats babe!!! I hope you have been saving your pennies LOL ;)

Can't wait to follow your life in the UK

Kate said...

Ooh, I'm even more jealous now! Corpus Christi's been a personal favourite since I visited Oxford and wandered through the gardens there. Anyway, can't wait to hear more and to get the chance to live vicariously through you a bit ;)

Me said...

Apologies for being late to the party but HOLY FREAKING CRAP!!!!! This is so amazing! Very, very happy for you and can't wait to read about your adventures across the way. Fingers crossed you end up where you want to be. You are a fabulous example of dream big and work hard - congrats Kate!

Niamh said...

This is so exciting Kate! I work with a fellow who got his PhD in English Lit from Oxford! I can totally relate to your nearly obsessive feelings about opening your email. I would have read, reread and had someone else read that email out loud one million times before it became real in my mind! You're going to have such a fantastic adventure. Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks so much, everyone! To say I'm excited is a massive understatement :)

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