30 December 2010

Eat.

I've lost a bit of weight while being in London (partially from being so sick for the past month and partially from walking around). My uncle, who has been working for an international bank and has done a lot of business in the UK, said "Blame the food in England." And now that I'm back in the States for the brief Christmas holiday, all I've been doing is eating.

My family and I went to Long Island to visit family and my grandmother made her Sicilian sauce. I've visited my favorite restaurant, Rasoi, twice already. My mother has been making me food, which is a treat in and of itself because she's such a fabulous cook (I hope to inherit the Sicilian cooking gene). I've had take away from my favorite Italian/Greek restaurant AND I've eaten inside of it.

My tummy is saying "Yum" but my waistline is inevitably going to grow.

24 December 2010

Happy Christmas Eve!

Got home safely on Wednesday afternoon. Had a little crying session with my mom when she came down the escalator at Logan. It was grand. When we watched Love Actually later that night, we both got hysterical at the end when the Beach Boys were playing and all the greeting scenes were playing, mostly because that's exactly what we had just done about 8 hours earlier.

I know. We're saps. It's a family trait.

Anyway, I'm back to being sick (thanks, Heathrow, for throwing all us semi-stranded people into the snow and freezing cold without proper shoes on). Back on antibiotics, and new development: an inhaler, for those times that I can't breathe properly. Wish they had thought of that when I would walk up stairs at school and I wouldn't be able to breathe. Would've been handy. But at least now I'm on the mend (hopefully).

The real point of this post was to do this:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoys themselves and gets to spend time with family (especially my friends who are still in the UK, fingers crossed that you get home soon!).

20 December 2010

I think I can, I think I can...

Rescheduled flight is tomorrow morning. Keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't get cancelled. I've been on hold with AA to check the status of my flight. Today the flight that I'll be on tomorrow left, so I'm hoping that's a good sign.

However, my flatmate J and my friend A got out today!! They are just leaving the runway now (gotta love texting). I'm so glad they were able. I'm hoping I'm as fortunate!

19 December 2010

UK Travel Chaos

Ma Nature decided to be ugly to me and a bunch of US students here in the UK yesterday and drop 10 cm on Heathrow and bring the unholy freezing temperatures in. As a result, my flight (and a bunch of other flights that my friends here were supposed to take home) were cancelled.

I have to say that the disappointment is overwhelming. I managed to get another flight out on Tuesday, but forecast is again for snow. Hopefully the fact that it's supposed to stay above freezing the whole day means that I'll be able to fly outta here. But unfortunately the feeling of being an animal trapped in a corner is starting.

At least I got to talk to some of my family yesterday while they were together for the yearly Smörgåsbord, which perked me up a little. And I talked to my lovely Aunt S.W. which was also a bit of a life saver.

But now, I have time to pick up some last minute gifts, buy some badly needed boots, and (reluctantly) enjoy the beauty of London under a blanket of snow.

15 December 2010

SO CLOSE.

I really shouldn't be doing a blog post, but as a professional procrastinator, it's necessary. Besides. It's either I pretend look at the histology pictures in Wheater's, watch Emma on youtube (my free movie website doesn't really load well at night), or do this.

Let me begin by saying: I have NEVER EVER EVER EVER studied this much in my life (for an exam that only counted for 5% of total grade). Over a week straight of being in the library quiet room revising for my exam on Friday. My body is starting to reject my attempts at being studious; I've had a migraine for most of the day. Probably from reading too much. And staring at computer screens doing practice MCQs. Or it's from information overload. I'm not sure.

Also, since about...last Saturday? My brain has been on that flight home. I talked to my sister last night on Skype and all I wanted to do was climb through the computer screen and hug her for an hour. It's ridiculous how much I miss her. And the night before that, my mom had Bailey on Skype and all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch with her for a week and a half.

I want it to be Saturday at 9:45pm CST. That's when my plane lands in Louis Armstrong in NOLA and I'll be able to see my sister and her boyfriend.

And now...back to revising. Maybe.

10 December 2010

End of Term Exam

35 MCQs. 1.5 hours to do it in. All I need to do to pass is get above 50%. (I mean really, how ridiculous is that?)

Why am I freaking out about this? Who knows. It's what I do best.

And look, this is what it's doing to my poor friend D -


RVC: Torturing vet students during exams since 1791...

03 December 2010

I Love Dissection...?

Really, I do love dissection. Except when it's 6 hours in the dissection lab doing two different tasks: dissection of the equine forelimb and then study of the vertebral column in domestic animals.

The first part was almost bearable. I mean, duh. It's what the bulk of my future work as a vet will be, considering I want to work mainly with orthopedics, which requires extensive knowledge of the equine limb in general.

But the second part? Ugh. I pretty much just sat and chatted with two classmates about random stuff (like childbirth to hyperextension of the neck in horses and it's consequences...not sure how that happened).

And I snapped a picture of what must've once been a cute bulldog:


That's what happens when a vet student gets bored. We take pictures of silly things, like articulated skeletons of dogs.

30 November 2010

Don't get sick in the UK...

...it'll take you weeks to recover.

So my bout with fresher's flu part 3 has been a bit of a downer. It started a few days before I left for Paris and it ran me into the ground every day while we were there. So when I came back, I made the first appointment I could with my local NHS clinic (which was the Wednesday after we got back).

For the record, the first appointment was near pointless. The GP looked down my throat, listened to my lungs, and basically told me to keep up with what I was doing. If I wasn't getting better by Friday, she told me to pick up a prescription of antibiotics. Well, by Friday I wasn't any better, so I picked up the amoxicillin. While on amoxicillin, I managed to get worse AND develop an ear infection.

Yes, I said it. An ear infection. Something I haven't had since, oh...I don't know, 3 years old? Seriously. What 24 year old gets an ear infection?

Anyway. So after not getting better after resting the whole weekend, I went back this past Monday. Same GP. This time, she listened to my lungs for a good long while (which had me worried...still does) and said that my left ear really was inflamed. So now, I'm on a SECOND antibiotic (clarithromycin), which seems to be working. I'm not coughing my lungs out, my sinuses aren't killing me, and my ear feels a bit better even after only one day of being on the clarithroamycin.

So my advice: don't get sick in the UK. It sucks. And it's really difficult to work with NHS, especially when you are pretty sure the GP you're seeing is the same age as you. Also, missing classes because you are sick sucks because you miss out on a lot of important information needed for your exam in 2 weeks (fuuuuuuuuuck).

22 November 2010

Ah, Paris...

I was sick as a dog, and almost died walking up the steps to Sacre-Couer, but I went to Paris and IT WAS AWESOME. The UK Border Control were funny, too, because 9 of us on the G&T course went and when I got there the woman said, "Another veterinary student, eh? You guys are already on holiday??" Haha...not really. But soon!

Back to real life now.

17 November 2010

Thoughts on Flying

I've only got 4 more weeks until I fly home for Christmas. The one way ticket here in September was a good idea, too. A flatmate of mine had a bit of trouble booking the last half of her round-trip with her UK banking card because it was a trip that originated in the States. Weird, but I guess that makes sense...?

On another note, a bunch of American students that are in my program and I are all taking the weekend off and going to Paris. There will be lots of brie, croissants, french wine, and sightseeing. I cannot wait!!

09 November 2010

Cows, cows, everywhere!

When I was around 8 years old, my parents took my sister and I to the county fair (a very Wisconsin thing to do, as we were living there at the time). Somehow, I wandered off, and when my dad realized I was gone he immediately thought, "well, where there's an animal, there Eleanor will be." We must've passed the calf shed at the fair and I (obviously) must've gotten distracted, because he found me cuddled up to a calf. The moment is preserved in a picture located somewhere at my parent's house, probably located with the millions of pictures my mother has stored in plastic containers.

Anyway, I tell that story to tell this story: somewhere along the line, I stopped liking cows. Maybe it was that class at UNH where I had to perform AI a bunch of times on dairy cows and got shat on multiple times (and lived to tell the tale). Or maybe it was because of the smell.

Well, scratch that. Today, I felt like I was 8 years old again, because I totally wanted to cuddle up to this little fella:

What a cutie, huh? (picture shamelessly stolen from my fellow classmate A.)

I spent 2 and a half hours today learning how to handle cows and do vet stuff like body scoring and checking rumen fill and checking silage and etc. I even managed to get licked in the face by a particularly precocious older calf that was outside.

AND.

I got to see a 1.5 hour old calf, which to me is newborn. It was still unsteady on it's legs! I melted.

Moral of the story: I officially like cows again. Oh...and I love being a vet student.

06 November 2010

To revise or not to revise...

Stay in to revise, or go out and shop for clothes? As any normal girl would, I choose to go out shopping for clothes. Major fail on my part, considering how much work I have.

However, I did spend most of the morning going over the endocrine control of metabolism (ugh). Only after I went food shopping and bought a yoga mat as well (finally!). So I get points for that, right?

...right?

02 November 2010

Living in Camden: a short thought.

Last week, I saw two celebrities here in Camden. The first, I can't name...but I know I've seen him in many movies (possibly Shakespearean movies?). The second, I saw while studying at my favorite study cafe with my friend D. At first, I thought she just looked like her, but after a while, hearing her talk to her friend (yes, I'm a shameless eavesdropper), I realized that holy sh*t, it actually WAS her.

Who's her? Romola Garai (Atonement, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights). Not many people know who she is, but I recently finished watching her performance as Emma in a 2009 BBC production of "Emma" (only after watching BBC's 2007 production of "Persuasion" and their 2008 production of "Sense and Sensibility").

Dork? Yes, thank you. I am.

But the reason I bring this up is, as a dork, I tweeted about how I'd seen her at Yumchaa. And I just looked at twitter and realized I'd been retweeted by a random celebrity sighting website. For some reason this makes me feel kinda cool...

29 October 2010

All day?

All day dissections are slightly torturous. You sit there at 9 am and think "Oh, shite, I'm not getting out of here for good until 3:30pm. How am I to survive?"

That was what I went through today. We had a block from 9am to 12pm to get our hind limbs off our dogs, and then came back an hour later to dissect the entire hind limb. My brain is no longer functioning. Solution? Bar 55 for 2-for-1 drinks. Afterwards, maybe my brain will begin to work again.

Then again, maybe not.

I just have to keep reminding myself that this is what I signed up for, and that I'm actually REALLY happy to be here (because really, I am).

But this picture from The Animal Blog made me smile (thanks to my sister for making this possible):

25 October 2010

Food experimentation.

Since I have yet to find an Indian restaurant that comes close to my hometown favorite Rasoi, I've decided to start cooking my favorite dishes myself.

Experiment one: Saag paneer. I ended up giving up on the paneer because I realized it would just take too long and I didn't really have the proper equipment (no cheesecloth...) to really make it happen. So I went for the tofu. Here is a rough estimation of what I did (because a part of me doesn't quite remember):

450g of baby spinach cooked down and drained
1/2oz of fresh ginger
1/2 of an onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
about 1/2 cup double cream
about 1/2 cup yogurt
2/3 block tofu

The recipe I sort of followed told me to make the ginger, onion, and garlic into a paste; well...didn't really have a food processor so I used one of my flatmate's processors for this part. Ended up working pretty well...even though it was more finely chopped than a paste. The spinach part was a little more hysterical. I tried to saute some of it, and that just didn't work. So I ended up steaming most of it in the microwave, which worked pretty well. I then drained the spinach, combined it with the paste, the garam masala, the cayenne pepper, yogurt, and half the cream, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I added the rest of the double cream, mashed it with a potato masher (which is what the recipe told me to do...weird, but I think it helped). In the middle of this, I drained the tofu, cubed it, and sauteed it in butter (not sure how much...maybe a tbsp?) and then added it to the saag. Let that sit for 10 minutes, then served it over rice.

It got a "YUM" from my flatmate J. She loves spicy foods, and it was definitely spicy. But not too much, just enough to clear the sinuses (just like at Rasoi!!). It wasn't anywhere close to as good as Rasoi, but it was definitely closer to it than anything I've had here so far! Definitely going to make this again.

23 October 2010

Studying.

I knew that studying would take over my life when I started here. I mean, it's vet school. And RVC doesn't really teach you EVERYTHING you need to know, because they want you to learn how to be lifelong learners (helpful, especially when, on average, 10 years after you graduate, about 5% of the stuff you learned in vet school will be relevant).

But really, most of my time is spent studying. On weekends (and occasionally during the week), I go to a study cafe called Yumchaa near Camden Lock. I was introduced by my friend D, who loves the ambiance of a cafe for studying. And I have to say, it's really growing on me. Except when the occasional pushy woman practically demands that she sit at your table since there are no other tables (or at least tables she doesn't feel like moving a chair to) and proceeds to sit there and be slightly obnoxious while you are studying.

Sigh. Apart from that, it's lovely. I can sit, NOT be at school or in my flat, and still manage to get a lot of work done and drink cappuccino (and a good cappuccino at that) at the same time.

And thus, my morning consisted of two things: coffee, and this:


18 October 2010

I've sold my soul to Apple.

After some annoying confusion Barclays has had with my correspondence address (only my US address was listed, but the nice lady at the Moorgate branch helped me fix it), I finally was able to buy my iPhone.

Yes, I've sold my soul to Apple. I have a MacBook and an iPhone. I feel official. I've spent the past few hours playing around with it, instead of studying. BUT. A friend of mine downloaded some veterinary terms and anatomy apps onto her iTouch, and I found a few (that I'm hesitant to buy, even though I have loads of cash from my loans). They look awesome, and helpful, and they are usable even when not connected to a 3G network.

I should, however, think about getting some real text books before I go buying apps for my iPhone. And I should also stop procrastinating and get back to studying...

17 October 2010

I'm having a moment, here.

Friday, we had our first dissection of the year (the extrinsic muscles of the forelimb of the dog). My group of 4 got their own dog (aptly named Harold, no idea why), and we basically got to hack off the forelimb of a dog.

Yes, disgusting for some. But it was AWESOME. Probably because I'm a vet student. I need to remind myself of this sometimes, because I tend to forget that yes, I'm a vet school and yes, I'm a veterinary student.

I'm having a lot of these moments where I suddenly realize where I am and what I'm doing and my brain goes "HOLY SH*T YOU'RE A VET STUDENT. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN."

And then I realize where I am and what I'm doing and get back to studying.

12 October 2010

What my social life consists of:

1. Studying at the kitchen table with other people.

2. Cooking while studying with other people.

3. Going to class and talking to people before the lecture begins.

4. The occasional (once weekly) trip to Bar 55 for 2-for-1 cocktails.

5. Facebook.

6. Skype.

Good times. Thanks, RVC, for making this scant social life possible.

08 October 2010

The Woe of not being able to breathe through your nose (a Cautionary Tale)

Today was our first introduction into the dissection room. The last time I was in a dissection room was 4 years ago. It goes without saying that I was extremely excited until I realized that, as of this morning, I can't really breathe through my nose. If I do, it takes a lot of effort and I sound like I have emphysema. Not fun.

Now I don't know about anyone else, but when I breathe through my mouth, I generally taste, to some extent, whatever aroma is floating through the air at a given moment. Not exactly the best time to be in a room with freshly killed specimens and specimens fixed in formalin. Let me interject that I don't really mind the smell of formalin. It's not a pleasant smell, but it doesn't turn my stomach.

However. Breathing in through the nose, which has a filter system, and breathing in through the mouth, which has TASTE BUDS, are two completely different animals (no pun intended).

I still don't know how I survived those two hours.

06 October 2010

Focus, brain. Focus.

It's really hard to focus when the sun is out for the first time in a week. Hence this post. I've been sitting at my kitchen table and I've only succeeded in getting through one lecture from yesterday. Helloooo procrastination.

I have a feeling that my steady relationship for the year is going to be with Procrastination. And the Library. I foresee that it will be a turbulent love/hate triangle.

04 October 2010

Day One

Not much to report, other than the monumentally awful stomach bug I had last night. Boo. But I feel much much better now.

However, this is a picture from one of my classrooms (that I stole shamelessly from my flatmate J...lucky wench has an iPhone already!):



Can I reiterate how I've made possibly the best decision of my life thus far? Because I totally have.

03 October 2010

On the weather in the UK...

I've just realized that, along with the fact that the topography is very similar, New England is also named so because of it's similarity of weather schizophrenia to it's namesake.

Let me explain. This morning around 7:30am, I woke to sunny weather. Windy, but sunny. I went back to sleep because, as a college student with no responsibilities until tomorrow, why not? I woke up again around 10am to cloudy. Around an hour ago, it was pouring. Now, I see blue sky again.

Helloooooo schizophrenia.

It makes me feel less homesick.


01 October 2010

Fresher's Week (or how lazy can I really be?)

So ends week 3 of me being here in London. It's been Fresher's Week this week, which has been like my Freshman Weekend experience at the University of New Hampshire...on meth, absinthe, and ecstasy.

Oh, and beer. Lots and lots of beer.

Fresher's Week (def): 8 to 10 days filled with drinking, dancing, fancy dress (costumes to us Americans), the occasional black tie event (on a BOAT), and sprinkled with general mayhem.

In short, it's an amazing week for a bunch of newbies to the uni to get together, drink, and have fun while making lifelong friends. At least, that's how it's been for me thus far. I've loved the freedom to get my affairs in order (I have a UK bank account...I feel so official!), get used to the area, and cook food for friends. I just feel super lazy because I've done practically nothing all week.

And now that I've managed to kick the cold that's had it's grasp on me for the past 2 weeks, I feel like myself again. I'm so ready to take this G&T year by the balls and show it who's boss.

24 September 2010

What I learned in my second week...

Really, I learned much of the same. Except now I know that I am useless when I have a cold. Word of advice: try your best not to get sick when you move abroad. It makes you completely helpless and it took me 3 days to find cold medicine...and it's not helping in the least so far. However, they do sell codeine over the counter. That makes me very excited; too bad I didn't invest in that instead. I could use a little knock-out right now.

I think I've also gotten dumber since I left college. In the very least, I've forgotten how to do basic things. Like...note-taking. I SUCK at it right now. I hope I improve when real classes start in a week.

I'm nervous, but totally ready for this. Obviously the interviewers saw something in me at my interview that made them think I was ready for this...so I'm going to believe them.

19 September 2010

Shopping in London

My new friends and I decided to go to Primark (think Kohl's) in Oxford Circle this past weekend. It would have been helpful to remember that the Pope was in town, and the city was overrun with SO many people, both lovers and haters alike.



Needless to say, it was also packed with people simply because it was the weekend. It made me a bit claustrophobic, actually, and I've never really been all that claustrophobic. It was a weird feeling. But I managed, at Primark and the next day Ikea, to get 2 pillows, a duvet, a duvet cover set, a set of sheets, a laundry hamper, tea towels, and towels for the shower. All in all, I think I spent around £65 total. I love being frugal.

I also managed to snap a quick photo of the buildings around Piccadilly Circus (a hop, skip, and a 15 minute walk from Oxford Circle). It really is beautiful here! I can't wait to explore more...while I have the time.


18 September 2010

What I learned in my first week.

1. I've forgotten how to study. Or at least I've forgotten how to study well. We had the practice exam and it wasn't truly difficult, but I missed so much in studying and focused on the wrong thing.

2. I need to re-learn how to write an essay. I almost feel like writing my Repro. Phys. professor and see if he can check over my exam essays for soundness like he used to do. My practice exam essay was word vomit.

3. My time management skills are in need of improvement. I was such a bad student this week because I just had so much to do other than study (eat, try to open a bank account, figure out the tube system, find a good indian restaurant, etc etc).

4. Patience. I really need to try and be more patient with things. Everything runs so much slower over here. Example: It took almost 2 hours to eat at this curry place a bunch of us went to the other day. Why? Who the fuck knows. It was beyond obnoxious.

5. My money management skills need brushing up. Now, I've been really good in spending money this week. I had to buy some supplies, a hair dryer, and a hair straightener (and I bought the cheapest ones I could). But then, I went out two nights in a row (desperate for food other than Lee Abbey's).

6. I need my own kitchen. I cannot STAND the food here and I'm not the best cook in the world, but I can cook. And if I can teach myself how to cook like my mother (I mean, I've watched her cook for my entire life) ...well, I'll be set for life.

16 September 2010

Sun?

It has been uncharacteristically sunny here in London for the past 2 days. I think nature is trying to slowly transition me to London's usual weather scheme. And it's a bit colder here than it is at home...at least colder than it was when I left. I haven't been checking up on the weather back in the States, mostly because I'm more worried about the tube service and whether I need my umbrella to get to the tube station.

Being at the college is amazing, although frustrating at times. I've had to jump through many hoops to get a bank account, and I still don't even have one. I have the thought of one: an appointment at Barclay's to set up my account. But my letter from college still isn't right, so I'll have to print out another by next Thursday. Also, my loan check is going to take until October 17th to be disbursed to me...so that'll be fun. At least I have an advance from RVC to cover me until then. If it doesn't last...well, I'll be SOL.

Other than the money issues, class has been interesting. We don't really have real classes, per se, but mock lectures to get us used to the structure and mock exams to get us in the mindset for how they test over here. 10% of our grades come from two exams after modules 1 and 2, and 90% come from the final year exam...which is cumulative.

I'm trying not to think about how 90% of my grade, and my future career as a veterinarian, rests upon my performance on one cumulative 3-part exam. Oy.

I think I'll just go back to thinking about the weather for a while.

12 September 2010

Walking 'Round London Town

I made it! I'm here. It's a little unreal at the moment. I know I'm here (I even saw Kensington Palace earlier), but it still feels surreal. I think it's partially because I had a severe lack of sleep yesterday because I couldn't get to sleep on the plane rides. I did get to see the sun rise over the Atlantic on the way into Keflavic Airport, though, which was a fantastic experience. Keflavic was a really interesting airport, too: it's almost literally on the sea coast, maybe a mile in from it. It was raining, but it was still beautiful.

Lee Abbey is really nice, too. The room is a bit small, but I haven't spent much time in here. The food is interesting, to say the least. I had a bean stew for dinner last night with boiled potatoes, a surprisingly delicious meal, but odd-looking nonetheless. And today there is a traditional Sunday lunch: roast. I guess I'll just have to start eating beef again...

10 September 2010

There's just a few more hours...

...that's all the time I've got.

100 points to whomever recognizes those lyrics.

I'm leaving soon for the airport. My parents and I are going out to dinner in Boston before I leave, and then they drop me off around 6pm. The nerves are gone, surprisingly. I guess that means I'm ready? Who knows.

I'm so excited I can hardly keep still. Next time I blog, I'll be on the other side of the Atlantic! Until then, my friends...

08 September 2010

And the jitters start.

I have this terrible habit when I get nervous: continually shaking or jittering my legs. I started doing this a few days ago and unfortunately I haven't stopped since.

I've pretty much packed completely at this point, but there are some clothes that just won't fit and therefore will have to get shipped to me. Boo. And now, it's just the last-minute tasks that need doing. I managed to forget all about luggage tags until the Icelandair website informed me that they require it and can refuse to check luggage without identification on the luggage. Well...thank god I checked. And my friend's mother N was lovely enough to give me a set of TSA-approved luggage locks so I can lock my luggage without TSA having to cut open my locks.

And of course, as I write this blog post, my Pandora radio station starts playing LDN by Lily Allen.

Is it Friday yet? :D

04 September 2010

So close!

Just got back from visiting family in NY and it was awesome. I really enjoyed seeing everyone. But...I really missed my dog. :/

Anyway, crunch time. Had a little bit of an unpleasant realization yesterday: my carry-on bag? My cool green one that I just bought a few months ago? Too big to be a carry-on by about 6 inches. Boo. Not thrilled. But the good news? My duffel bag, which my cat Cosmo managed to pee in somehow (it was upright and closed...?) now is free of cat pee smell thanks to my lovely parents. So I can use that as checked. Only problem now is debating whether it is worth it to pay the $125USD to bring my 25" roller as a checked bag. We'll see how much I can get into my duffel.

Now, to sit back, relax, and enjoy the hurricane-free weather. 6 days until my flight! Oy...

31 August 2010

10 days until lift-off.

I cannot believe that I only have 10 days left. Yesterday, while I was taking the ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point, LI (I'm on the island visiting family), I started a final checklist. Yes, final. The last checklist I will make before leaving for the UK. And the reason I started to freak out about leaving while I was on a friggin boat in the Long Island Sound.

1. Print out tenancy agreement as proof of residence.
2. Double-check weight of baggage
3. Print out itinerary for flight
4. Pack alarm clock in carry-on
5. Check UK customs page for items 'ok' to bring (amazed that I still have not done this)
6. Breathe. Stop freaking out.
7. Get another set of passport photos for ID cards
8. Get international driver's license
9. Make sure passport, proofs of stuff (residence, money) and Oyster card are packed/accessible
10. Breathe. Stop freaking out.

Yes. I really wrote that last one twice because I will need to be reminded to breathe and stop freaking out, and I don't trust my parents to remind me.

It still doesn't feel real, and I'm leaving in 10 days. How is that possible?

29 August 2010

Last day at EXP.

The day started at 5:15am. Rolled out of bed, slipped on some sandals, got in my car, drove to Dunkin Donuts (necessary when awake so early...I'm going to die in vet school), and then drove to work. It was a day filled with dressing mannequins, hanging posters, moving fixtures, arranging denim and dressing more mannequins.

I did a lot of undressing and re-dressing of those pasty white mannequins. My thumbs hurt from buttoning all those size 0 denim leggings that almost don't fit the girls mannequins.

It was bittersweet. I will miss the ease of it all...mostly because I knew what I was doing while I was there, for the most part. And I will miss the people. My work family was so supportive throughout my application process and they were almost as excited as I was when I got into RVC. Plus, EXP is a great company to work for (and the discount isn't half bad, either).

12 days until my flight leaves. I'm half-packed and almost ready to go...and I don't think it's really fully hit me yet.

24 August 2010

"Your visa has been issued."


Sweeter words were never spoken in the English language.

Ok, that's not true. But I'm a very happy girl right now. After all that worry I had (for no reason, I realize now...hindsight. Gotta love it), everything is going smoothly. 17 days left until my flight, and all that's left to do now is pack, go to my last day at work this Friday, and spend time with family and friends.

22 August 2010

And in other news...

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post with this important announcement: if I never have to see another girl in cowboy boots and a pair of cut-off jean shorts with a plaid shirt tied midriff, or a guy in overalls and boots without a shirt, it will be too soon. Countryfest @ Gillette Stadium = nightmare, especially if one works at a retail store within the plaza. Holy F$*# it was terrible.

Back to your regularly scheduled blog post...

I got my confirmation email this morning from the NY visa office saying that my visa application is safe and being processed. Should take another week or two to get approved/denied (dear LORD if it doesn't I'll punch a baby). Odd, though, that the email was sent on a Saturday. Maybe they work 6 days a week?

17 August 2010

(im)Patience

I really need to learn how to sit back and relax in certain situations. Example one: waiting for my visa to start getting processed. I stupidly did not ask for return receipt or certified mail, so there is no way to know if it got lost in the mail or if it arrived safely to the NY visa office. Unfortunately, WorldBridge is not allowed to say anything about visa information that has been sent to the UKBA offices, so even they can't tell me if it's been received or not.

Sigh. This will be lesson one in patience, then.

...

Ok, ok. It's more like lesson #295721 in patience.

11 August 2010

What's left?

So I have one month left until I leave the States for a longish while (at least until Christmas). Looking back at my list I made in a post a while back (click here to read), I realize: I've done everything that I needed to do. Luggage set? Check. One even has clothes in it already! Gasp! Plane ticket? Check. Organize room? Check. I even painted it and redecorated a bit! I feel so accomplished. Apply for loans/visa? Check and check. I sent out the paperwork today, and I feel as if I won't really rest easy until my passport is back in my possession. But yeah, pretty much the only thing I have left to do is pack and um...leave. And work the odd weekend at EXP.

I feel a sense of accomplishment and yet...it is overshadowed by the overwhelming weight of the fact that I'm leaving in only one month. I have this weird combination of anxiety, nostalgia, and exhilaration going on in my brain and unfortunately, I don't really know how to process it yet.

Tomorrow is Wednesday aka Hump Day. I have two more working days this week and then I will be able to hang out with my family in Maryland and remember great stuff about the people we've lost and maybe, finally, take bets and nail down a list of which of the cousins will get married (first to last). We talked about it last September at my uncle's wake (odd, yes, but it took our minds off of the heavy stuff for a while) and I'm pleased to say that they all thought that I would be smack dab in the middle of everyone. The reason? "You've got too much to do, with vet school and all, to get married any time soon." Aw, how I love them. They know me so well. I can't wait to see them and drink and swim and do silly things. We will giggle, snort, sing, play...I can't wait. It will be fabulous. Sad, but fabulous.

07 August 2010

34 days: Letter's in!

The official copy of the letter is in. It's all nice and shiny and sparkly...ok, not really. But it did give me a sense of completion. I have everything needed for my visa application. There is a little hiccup with the actual application, since I have no idea where my passport was issued (it asks for place of issue, there is none listed on the passport). I listed it as Providence, RI, since this is where I applied for my passport...but apparently it's the regional office location that issues it. I talked to WorldBridge, the visa info service, and they basically said you can make corrections to the hard copy of the application. I just need to put a little blurb about why I corrected it. No biggie.

And tomorrow starts my last week at Express! Well, not really. I'll be working occasional days to give the other managers a break while they find my replacement. Plus, I could use the money. I just hope I have enough to cover expenses until I can get my loan check (which I found out today wouldn't happen until at least 28 September).

Also, random...I have found a downside to owning a Mac. Most (read: all) of the videos on the Blackboard website for RVC needs a windows plugin for my Quicktime that I can't find. I'll have to keep looking when I have more time.

03 August 2010

Visa application: complete.

Huge sigh. My visa application is finally complete and paid for, and it was much pricier than I expected. I guess the fees went up since the last time I checked ($330USD,...I think my future children just lost out on their college funds). On the upside, at least it's completed, right? And I have all my supplemental documents...except my financial aid award letter. I'm still (im)patiently waiting for that to arrive via FedEx. I do have the letter from the Direct Loan office regarding the amount of my PLUS loan, but I'm 99.9% sure that it's not the one I need to supply with my visa application.

So now, the only thing I have left to do is get my biometrics taken (next Monday), and pack for London. 38 days left to go...

27 July 2010

45 days.

1 month, 15 days. And I'll be flying to Iceland, stopping for an hour, then heading to London.

Really, that's all I wanted to post.

Oh, and I told my boss today that I wanted my unofficial last day to be August 12th, and that I could work 2 to 3 days a week to cover days off and stuff until August 29th. That's reasonable, right? The problem isn't that I have stuff left to do (which I do, but it's really not THAT much stuff), it's the fact that I'd like a chance to see my extended family before I leave. I haven't seen my grandparents since April. I miss them. I want to get my fill of my grandmother's cooking and the sound of my grandfather saying "Oh, Marie..." when my grandmother does something silly or says "OH, my GOD" too many times while talking on the phone. I want to sit and have coffee with my aunts and uncles and cousins, and I want to play with my baby cousin A. I missed out on a whole day with my mother's side of the family (my cousin B had his high school graduation party), and it's quite disappointing. I could've seen everyone at once, but now I'll have to visit everyone piecemeal.

Not to mention my dad's side of the family. I saw my Aunt S for a week since she came to visit, but I haven't seen anyone else. Although I do have Cousins' Weekend in Maryland coming up (can't wait!), so I'll be able to see most (hopefully all...) of my dad's side of the family.

Sigh. I'm already homesick and I haven't even left yet.

24 July 2010

Busy week.

1. Found out I was in College Grove (just received that official letter yesterday).
2. Got the news that the loan letters will be out in the mail by Monday-ish.
3. Booked my flight.
4. Completed (mostly) my Appendix (the information section) for my visa.
5. Got a letter from the Direct Loans office saying that I've been approved for a Plus loan of the amount of money I need/requested. I need to double check, but I think this is the letter I can use to pass through customs (not the one for my visa, that's being sent out by RVC).

It's all coming together! ACK. Here comes the nervousness. 48 days left here, only 30 days (possibly less) left with EXP.


22 July 2010

Flight booked.

I saw that prices went up within the last few days, so I booked a flight (I actually did what I said I was going to do...weird).

Cue drumroll...

I went with Icelandair. I mean, really. I couldn't stomach spending $1300 on a flight just because it was non-stop. My ticket was $451 and I booked with priceline.com. Cheaptickets.com was only 8 bucks more, but I've booked with priceline.com before and I've never had issues; why change? I also got the travel insurance that they offer, just in case something happens. In my experience, if you are prepared (or over-prepared), usually nothing of note happens. Of course, now that I've said that...

Also, my payment for the pre-sessional program went through today AND I got an email from the financial office saying that they're generating our loan letters and they will be sent out on Monday. So in a week and a few days I should know how much I got in loans and be able to FINALLY complete and send out my visa application. It's all coming together! It's a little nerve-wracking, actually.

As an aside, my second set of passport photos for my visa? I look like a drug dealer (and a loop of hair is sticking straight out of the top of my head. This is what happens when the nice AAA man asks how it looks and you don't have glasses on...). I'm thinking a re-do is in order.

I think...yes, I might...

I might actually sit down and buy my plane ticket tomorrow, since I only have 50 days left in the US. For some reason, I'm still debating whether it's worth it to spend the $1000 USD on Virgin Atlantic for a 6 and a half hour flight or to cut the cost in half and stop in Ireland on the way. I won't be entering the country, but I will have a layover. Decisions, decisions...

50 days. How is that even possible?? How is July almost over? HOW IS IT MY MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY IN 6 DAYS??!

Shite. I still need to get her a present. She requested a wireless mouse. It's really not as much fun to get people what they actually ask for since there isn't much surprise left, is there?

Ok, end of extremely ADD post.

By the way, there's a hummingbird's nest in my back yard and I get to see them every morning. Isn't that cool?

For real, stopping now.

I mean it.

Anybody want a peanut?



16 July 2010

8 weeks to go!

Got two very different emails from RVC this week. I have to say, though, this is probably the most emails I've gotten since I was offered a place...

First: I'm gonna be in College Grove for first year, which is exactly where I wanted to be. I was reading reviews and a lot of people said that Mary Brancker was a better accommodation than College Grove, but I really like the idea of having my own bathroom. And it's Co-Ed. Only one kitchen, though, so I hope it won't be too bad having to share with 6 other people. I did it at UNH, I can do it again. And it'll probably be easier to share with someone who isn't my mother. The kitchen truly is her domain and it's been ages since I cooked myself a meal that didn't come out of a box. It'll be nice to cook my own meals again, stretch my cooking muscles a little. Although I've been told that there is cheap good cuisine around London (Borough Market area has a lot of good curry places, info courtesy of Stuart, my London friend), I still look forward to cooking my food, and at least I know I'm a fairly good cook (thank you, Mum, for the Sicilian cooking genes).

Second off: That whole woe-is-me post from a few days past? About not being able to do EMS in the US because Direct Loans were only to be used in the UK? Well, Chief Operational Officer Bill Taggert had it completely wrong. Here's an excerpt that I got from Rachel, the International Admissions Officer:

"After checking with other officials in the department we have discovered we were misinformed by Bill Taggart, the Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Department of Education, that students in receipt of Direct Loans can no longer use that money to fund any study in the United States.

This means students in receipt of Direct Loans CAN do AHEMS (Animal Husbandry Extra Mural Study) and EMS (Extra Mural Study) in the United States."

What a huge weight off my mind. I'm limited to 8 weeks of AHEMS here anyway, but that means I can come home for summer and finish them off here before I start Year 3. I'm still debating whether to come home for Christmas, though.

Last but not least: I'm sending out my payment form for the pre-sessional program today (really, I'm not waiting 4 days like I did last time, mostly because I have the day off and I have a lot of money in my bank account that is burning a hole in my pocket...). Buh-bye, $1000 that I've saved so far. Only about $1000 more to go to cover costs until I receive a loan check...

11 July 2010

2 months to go...

Got an email from RVC yesterday. Found out that I can't use my Direct Loans for anything other than study in the UK.

What's that mean? It means that if I do any EMS in the States, I can't use left-over loan money to pay for any of it. Not on food, gas, room and board...nothing. This disappoints me in a big way. I mean, I get the thought process behind it. I'm taking out money for study in the UK, it needs to be used in the UK. But the stuff that I'd do here is counting towards credit/experience for my school that's in the UK. Isn't that the same thing?

Sigh. I might get a job once I settle in and save up that money for EMS when I come home. Otherwise, I'm stuck getting all my EMS done at school before I can come home and visit next summer. That also means I might need to get a flat because I might be there longer than my lease for my dorm room (whichever place I get into). Which means more budgeting so that I can afford to put down a few months rent.

So much to think about...

06 July 2010

66 days.

Last week RVC updated their website to let all us poor US students know what was up with the direct loan program. Thankfully, mostly everything is up and running and once they receive a paper from me with my signature and info on how much money I want to take out, they will be able to originate my loan and send me an official loan letter for my visa application.

Now, if I could just get off my lazy ass and wake up early to make sure I have plenty of time to make it to work (on time, of course) AND send that off in certified mail...

05 July 2010

Happy Birthday USA!

My last 4th of July in the States until 2015 is coming to a close. It was a day spent next to the ocean in southern RI, and I've accrued some freckles, a few bug bites, and a little sunburn. All worth it. Now, the traditional viewing of '1776' the musical has commenced, and I'll probably fall asleep in front of the TV just like last year.

I also had an intense bout of homesickness (yes, I haven't left yet) when I was leaving my house this morning. I was listening to 1776 (yes, I'm obsessed, one of many small obsessions I seem to have) and it hit me that holy sh*t. I'm not going to be here, in the US, for the next 4 years to celebrate American Independence. From England.

Where will I be?

Oh yeah. England.

And I'm from the first colony to declare independence from England.

On that note, only 67 days left. Time flies.

02 July 2010

10 weeks

10 weeks from today I will be getting ready to get on a plane bound for London. Crazy how time flies, eh?

Got my welcome pack in the mail yesterday and had to stop myself from jumping for joy (although I did an awkward little dance in place to celebrate). In this pack came a little thing known as an Oyster card. It's used to pay for fares on the public transport in and around London. It's reusable and you top it up (put more money on it) when it's running low. I know I'm silly, but I was so excited to have one that I posted it on facebook (yes, I know I'm a dork of inconceivable proportions).

Also in this welcome pack was a payment form for my pre-sessional course fee. I do have enough money saved up, thanks to my recent paycheck, but I think I might wait until I get my next one in two weeks to pay. I almost over-drafted last time because BoA didn't tell me that there would be a fee to pay in sterling via my debit card. Whoops.

On another note, my area has had wonderfully glorious weather as of late. Sunny, warm, not humid, just a slight summer breeze to keep you cool. I've been outside for most of the day enjoying the lovely weather, re-reading the Twilight Saga (told you, huge dork), and doing laundry. Gotta love being mostly lazy on a day off. In fact, I think I'll be off to continue being lazy... :D

26 June 2010

Panic Switch

Have you ever gotten a panicky feeling when looking at a checklist that you thought you were prepared for but one look at that damn checklist you realize how far behind you are?

I did. Today, in the middle of work for no good reason. I received the electronic version of my 2010 Welcome Pack today via email from the RVC. At first, I was ecstatic. On the good side, I've gotten a complete schedule of my pre-sessional course (there is time set aside every morning for coffee and now I love the RVC even more). I also learned that there is a black tie cruise on the Thames during freshers week (the first week of school for first years, v. cool) and that gives me a good excuse to get a nice dress, or at least give me a good kick in the butt to get all my dresses dry-cleaned. But as I was reading, I more or less got more anxious about moving to a different country. I mean, I've been worried about it anyway, just because it's my nature to worry. But it came to a fever pitch. Did you know that you need your acceptance letter when you arrive at the airport? And it's required for my visa application. I have two letters: one that states that I'm offered a place on the course and one that thanks me for accepting my place on the course (I'm assuming the latter is what they're talking about). Gah, do I even know where they both are?

So while at work, I usually have a few minutes to obsess about one thing or another in between customers. During this mini-obsess session, a wave of panic overtook me out of nowhere. How was I to afford the pre-sessional fee? What about a bank account? How long will it take me to open one up and deposit my loan check? Holy crap, what if I don't get enough in loans? What if I lose my birth certificate...or worse, my visa?

An innocent customer took me out of this little panic attack (thankfully no one noticed) and it left my mind until I got home and had time to relax. And here I am. Sitting at my computer. Looking at the RVC pack again. Glutton for punishment, I suppose. I need to somehow condition my brain to stop over-thinking. If anyone figures out how, let me know. I'll pay for the knowledge.

22 June 2010

81 days

I've been biting my nails in anticipation of finally being able to apply for direct loans, and I'm happy to say that I'm all but finished. I have officially finished loan counseling and the MPN for direct sub/unsubsidized loans. Only have the MPN for PLUS loans to finish. Needless to say, that is one HUGE weight off my mind. At least for now.

Also, I should be getting my fresher's pack by the end of the month. Very excited about that. Hopefully when that comes in, it will have a letter confirming my place at RVC. I've already got my CAS number and information about my course of study for the visa. All that's left is getting the loans and the letter saying that they're on their way and I'll be all set to finish my visa application. It's all starting to come together!

15 June 2010

A bit of a break...

Ah, loans. Can't apply for them yet, but everyone seems to have already applied for them at the Pre-Vet forum of SDN, which just makes me even more worried. I know it's because I'm going to RVC and they're all (mostly) going to US schools, but I've been lead to believe that loan applications don't open until July 1st...apparently a fallacy. Oh well. I just hope there is money left over for me...

To get my mind off that for a bit, I've been watching "All Creatures Great and Small", a TV series made in 1978 that's based off of James Herriot's books. I absolutely love it. It's fun to see the characters come to life, when they've only lived on the page for me. The best part? They are true to the books.

I'm off to go watch a few more episodes before I have to continue being a semi-functional adult.

08 June 2010

When money talks, I hate to listen.




But lately it's been screaming in my ear.

Literally.

Well, maybe not actually screaming, but it's about all I can hear. Yesterday I posted about being lazy and ending my time at Express on July 31st. I just did a little flow chart to figure out how much money I need until I receive the loan check from RVC, which includes the fee for the pre-sessional course, the deposit for the room in College Grove (which I hopefully get), and 5 weeks rent for College Grove. If I get Mary Brancker House, it'll be pretty much the same.

So. All in all, I figure I'll need about $3000 before I step onto the plane, for my sanity. Which means, no AHEMS this summer.

This also means I will have to work until at least August 29th. Which leaves me 11 days to do my visiting of the family in NY. And packing. And my panic dance (basically me walking around the house picking up and putting down insignificant things to keep my mind busy while I try to wrap my head around leaving the country for 4 years).

Possible to save up $3000? Yes. As long as I stop:
1. Buying lunch while at work
2. Going out for beers with friends
3. Going out to dinner with friends

and...

4. Having fun.

Oh Ben Folds, I couldn't have said it better. Because right now, I really don't want to listen to money...but it's definitely screaming in my ears.

07 June 2010

AHEMS...95 days.

...and no, I'm not clearing my throat.

AHEMS stands for Animal Husbandry Extramural Studies. As a student of the RVC, I'm required to do 12 weeks of AHEMS prior to start of Year 3 of the BVetMed program. Students in the 5 year program get two summers and two sets of school vacations in which to complete their 12 weeks. I get...one summer and one set of school vacations.

Why? Because I'm a G&T student. My first year is the equivalent of a regular student's years one AND two.

Yay for my wallet, boo for time scheduling.

I've been planning to get at least two weeks done here at an equine facility before I leave in September, but now I'm sort of rethinking that plan.

One: I want to be able to save up more money before I leave, and that requires me working for at least a few more weeks past my original last day (July 31st).

Two: I realized that I have more time than originally thought to finish my AHEMS. I have 3 weeks at Christmas (will probably not do any then), 2 weeks at Easter (which will be spent doing my Sheep AHEMS), and 5 weeks right before Easter holiday set aside for completing AHEMS.

Three: I have around 10 weeks before Year 3 (technically Year 2 for me) to finish whatever AHEMS placements I'll have left.

Total: 17 weeks (not including Christmas, since I plan to come home then)
Total AHEMS: 12 weeks

And 2 weeks are already taken care of with the sheep placement at Easter, so that really leaves me 15 weeks to get 10 weeks worth of placements done.

So while that is doable, do I really want to leave placements until the proverbial last minute? Ah, the conundrum my overanxious brain leaves me with. Do some now and get them over with, or wait until I get there to start?

Be lazy, or be pro-active. Decisions, decisions.

02 June 2010

100 days...and a Bucket List.

Almost down to double digits. It's an exhilarating feeling, being so close and so far. Just over 3 months and 1 week until I hop on a plane and fly out there.

SO CLOSE. Yet so far.

Now that it's really coming down to the grind (and I can't worry about the visa application and loans until July 1st), I've been starting to look for things to do in my spare time. If you will, a Bucket List of things to do before I leave RVC.

1. Go to The George: A friend of my father told me about a pub in London that was so old, that the bar itself was warped from all the customers leaning against it for so many centuries. I asked a friend who is from London and weeks later he remembered and screamed out "THE GEORGE" just as I was passing by him while we were at a graduation party. You laugh, but I was so excited that he remembered the name I nearly kissed him. (Not really...his girlfriend would have killed me). But the old pub idea caught on and I found this great website that lists a bunch of historic pubs and alehouses in the London area (click here to see it). So while The George alone is on my bucket list, I will probably go and visit as many of these old pubs as I possibly can during my stay.

2. Take the Chunnel to Paris: This is an ABSOLUTE MUST for me. I feel that if I don't take a chance to visit France while I'm there...well, my adventure just wouldn't be complete. This trip would, of course, include a trip to Versailles (will have to take care not to say "Ver-sayles"...oh, KY. I do appreciate you...I swear) and of course, The Louvre.

3. Take the ferry to Brittany: again, a must. Tentative plans are to meet my sister here and have her do all the talking since she's the one who took French in high school.

4. Take a road trip through England/Scotland/Wales: might not be possible without a car...but maybe I'll buy/rent/borrow/steal one for a few days.

5. Take a day trip to Sweden: I just gotta see this street named after my family's surname. It's located in the old jewelry district...which now happens to be the red light district. If you don't know what that means, listen to "Roxanne" by The Police. You'll figure it out. If you don't know The Police...well, you're dead to me.

6. Sit in on a session of Parliament: It sounds silly, but I would love to have this experience. Politics have always fascinated me.

7. Oktoberfest: this might not be possible...but wouldn't it just be fun??

8. Visit Jane Austen's house: I can not live in the UK for 4 years and go without seeing my favorite author's house at least once.

9. Visit James Herriot's practice in Thirsk: If you love animals, you will understand why I have to make this pilgrimage. The books he wrote? Nothing special. Just inspired me to become a large animal vet. No biggie.

10. Visit Buckingham Palace and attempt to take a picture with a royal guard: And...that's about all I need to say.

Of course, while I'm there, I have a funny feeling that I will be adding many more pictures to this blog. I might need to invest in a camera in order to do justice to all my sight-seeing...hm. I'm thinking...a digital SLR?

26 May 2010

107 Days

GAHHH...May is almost over. I feel like I just posted about April being almost over! Just proves that time really does fly.

But that means that in little over a month, I'll FINALLY be able to apply for loans, and thus apply for my visa. I will feel more secure about everything once I get those two things squared away. I'm still waiting for my letter with CAS number in it. I'm guessing it's going to come in with all of the student packet RVC told me that I'd be receiving in the early summer.

And I just sent an email to RVC to make sure they received my housing forms...probably a good idea since the deadline is on May 31st. I'm sure they did, since I sent them over a week and a half ago.

So many things left to do...and it seems like there is so little time left.

23 May 2010

American TV Shows I Will Miss

It's almost 3am as I'm writing this...and I just finished watching the season 5 finale of Bones. It's going to be necessary to bribe family members and friends to tape next season's episodes so I won't have to wait until July 2011 to catch up on all my favorite TV shows. Here's a few that I can think of off the top of my head:

1. Bones (BOOTH WILL YOU JUST KISS BONES ALREADY JEEZ)
2. Burn Notice (MacGuyver for spies)
3. Lie To Me (maybe it'll air in the UK since the lead character is from there??)
4. CSI (I don't really watch the new seasons...but I will miss re-runs on Spike)
5. House (oh, how I love that snarky bastard)

So family/friends...this is a plea (in advance, of course...fair notice, right?) that should you watch these shows, please obtain them illegally and send them to me so that I do not shrivel up and die (figuratively) from the long absence of my beloved characters.

I'm sure there are more...but for my sleep-deprived mind, these are the only ones that matter.

...

ETA: I shall not miss Kitchen Nightmares...mostly because it's a UK show. Bastardized by Fox Network to be a crazy, high-stress reality drama. For those of you only familiar with the US version: you're missing out on how awesome Chef Ramsay really is.

19 May 2010

OT: Gulf Oil Spill








































Not anything to do with my going to vet school, but I saw this picture of the oil spill in the Gulf and I died a little inside. I really hope they figure out a way to stop this thing...yesterday. (Unfortunately, blogger is cutting the dimensions of this picture, so click here to view the full NASA satellite photo).

18 May 2010

Money money money...

Love ABBA. Oh, those Scandinavian songbirds sure had a way with words and notes. LOVE Mamma Mia too...

Wow. Totally off-track.

Ok. Focus.

Out of sheer curiosity, I just checked to see what the current exchange rate was for sterling to US dollar. Holy crap...it's $1.44USD to every £1GBP. Doesn't seem like a lot, but considering that most of what RVC has been basing it's Cost of Living (COL) on, it's a HUGE difference. Especially when you're talking thousands of sterling/dollars.

When I had my interview and subsequent presentation with RVC, the estimated tuition in USD was $31000+ (£19320 in GBP). When I just checked it with the current exchange rate, it was around $27500. HUGE(ish) difference. I've estimated that my total debt that I will incur while in vet school (just from loans) will be approximately $300,000. About the same I would have gotten into if I had gone to Tufts (sort of...I probably would have lived with my parents to avoid paying for rent, but what would be the fun in THAT?!). But if I factor for a lower exchange rate? Shaves off at least $30,000. Doesn't seem like a lot compared to the total, but any money I DON'T have to pay back?

Priceless. Literally.

16 May 2010

117 Days...

I have 117 days in which to do the following:

1. Apply for loans (supposedly available on July 1st according to the news)
2. Apply for a visa
3. Buy a plane ticket
4. Pack
5. Visit everyone I possibly can (will happen in August)
6. Do my equine AHEMS (so I have one less to do during the school year and summer before Year 3, also to happen in August).

It doesn't really look like that much, does it?

Lists can be deceiving...just so you know.

09 May 2010

What I need to learn before London: How to save money.

I cannot go on doing what I've been doing for the past few days: spending money like it is replenished as quickly as it's spent. Duh. It doesn't work that way. My bank account can attest to this.

SO. I simply need to learn how to cooperate with a budget (urgh). I'll have to do it eventually for the next four years so I don't run out of loan money. No more going out and spending a RIDICULOUS amount on food and beer (and consequently 100 credits at Dave and Busters...). No more buying clothes because I might need them for London (if I need them for London, I'll buy them IN London). No more late night runs to McDonald's for a large fry because I'm hungry (go without, you big glutton).

Henceforth, I shall only spend money on what I actually need: gas for the car, meds for Bailey, and toiletries.

Oh, and coffee. I don't think I can get through a day without a Dunkin Iced. And the occasional 6-pack of Sam Adams Summer (yum).

This is never going to work...

05 May 2010

I knew it was going to be harder...


...but does it have to be this hard? I just realized that I can't apply for Stafford or GradPLUS loans through most (read: all) lenders like Citibank and Sallie Mae because RVC's disbursement dates don't fall in line with their preferred (read: required) disbursement dates.

Sooooo...what do I do now? Apply directly to the US Department of Education for student loans? Apparently. I already sent an email to the financial officer at RVC regarding this. I have a feeling she's going to tell me what I already figured out: I can only apply for GradPLUS loans (higher percentage rate) since that is the only type available to me as a professional student. Yay for voluntarily making my life more difficult by choosing the best school for me that just HAPPENS to be across the ocean. In a different country. With different loan disbursement dates because they start school months after here AND is on a trimester system.

I need a switch to turn off my brain because this is going to keep me up all night.


ETA#1: Got an email back from financial officer at RVC. Got a copy and paste of what is on the website, so I'm guessing they don't really know what's up or down either. Looks like I won't be able to do anything at all regarding loans until they sign up as a Direct Loan originator. Boo...:/

04 May 2010

Oy...


Bought my luggage yesterday. Really makes things real (not that the $1500 deposit doesn't...). I ended up going to Macy's because they had a huge sale on a lot of things, including luggage, and then had a family and friends discount on top of that. They had a few great choices available, but ultimately I went with the Samsonite spinners, a 25" and a 21". Here's a picture of one:

The reviews on the Macy's website weren't too awesome. One said the handle didn't work, another that the wheels didn't work well on carpet, etc etc blah blah blah. I dunno. I might return them, since I ended up spending around $216 on them. But again..I'm not too picky about what "not working" means. If I get a huge hole in them during the first time I travel with them...yes, that's "not working". If one of the wheels is a little sticky and doesn't work on carpet all that well...I can deal with it.

Which brings me to my next point: cost of flights. Knock on wood, the volcano in Iceland isn't really affecting flights any more, so odds are that I'm going to be flying with ease across the pond. Cheaptickets.com has some awesome prices, and originally I thought that Icelandair would be the best choice, since it's so cheap (I mean...flights starting at $310? Can't go wrong, right?). But now that I think about it, I'm already going to be exhausted from the time change. Do I really want to tack on a layover (possibly 8 hours)? So now I'm thinking of going with Virgin Atlantic, mostly because they have the cheapest option for a one-way nonstop that I can find. I even signed up for the Flying Club, since I'm assuming that I'm going to be a frequent flyer (even though the first time I will most likely be coming home is the middle of July). I'll be able to earn miles by booking flights with them. It's just...ugh. Do I really want to spend $1000+ on a flight?

However, I'm probably jumping the gun a little here. It is only May (HOW did it get here so quickly?!). There is no reason for me to be anxious about booking a flight RIGHT NOW. So I will stop thinking about it...

...

Oh, who am I kidding. I'm going to be worrying about it until I step on the flight. And probably while I'm on the plane, too.

02 May 2010

Time flies...

I can't believe it's May already! Where is the time going? 3 months left at Express, and only 132 days before I leave for the UK.

Soon sending my housing forms to RVC. Hopefully I get placed in College Grove, since it seems to be the best fit for me. Self-catered hall, my own room, my own BATHROOM. Mary Brancker House isn't too bad either. Both require a tenancy of 50 weeks (ouch) but when I think about it, I'm going to be living there from September 22nd to July 16th at the latest. That's...at least 46 weeks? I'm too lazy/tired to count accurately. So it's not THAT much of a stretch to have to be there for 50 weeks. I REALLY don't want to do the dorm thing, since I'm not too interested in living with 18 and 19 year olds again (the last time was not pretty). It seems they reserve the self-catered halls for international students, so I'm guessing that it won't be too hard to secure a place at one of them.

I'm really excited/nervous/going out of my mind. A giant part of me is excited beyond belief and can't wait til September comes...but there is a part of me that is going to be enormously homesick and, in a way, already is. How can you miss a place you haven't even left yet? It's possible, because I'm starting to get sentimental about things. But still, mostly excited.

So, soon will send out housing forms along with SAR from FAFSA so that they can process my loan requests without any issues. I did request my 8-page SAR, but (so funny) it's actually more like 10. Make sense? Not really. I'm thinking an email to the financial dept. is in order. For the moment, bed.


PS: Have re-read Bridget Jones' Diary (v.g.). Forgot how fantastic it is.

20 April 2010

Oh, that silly volcano...

So as much as that silly volcano is worrying me, it is a blessing in disguise. Since the admissions officers at RVC are worried about me getting the hard copies of everything...they sent me emails of everything (read: awesomeness).

What I got this morning via email is my accommodations packet. And my AHEMS packet. And my preliminary school year schedule. Now I truly know the consequences of starting school so late. As a G&T student (aka 4 year student), I start this year on September 13. According to my first year calendar, my oral examinations won't end until the week commencing July 11. WOW. To me, that's late, since I'm used to mid-May as my last week of school. That will take a bit of getting used to.

But yay! I got these emails this morning and even though I didn't get to read them fully, I was literally on a cloud all day. I can't believe what a difference an EMAIL from RVC makes...

18 April 2010

An Inconvenient Plume


What a great way to describe the volcano erupting in Iceland this past week. I totally stole it from MSNBC...but it’s the most accurate title ever. As most people by now know, the volcano that is under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier (not a typo, that's the correct spelling) has been spewing ash in the skies over Western Europe, causing airport closings throughout the entire area. Also, scientists are unsure how long this eruption will last and if there will be more in the near future (NYtimes article). Bad news for people traveling to Europe, and even worse news for me.


Why? Because I’ve planned to fly from Logan Airport via Icelandair. And if this thing keeps spewing or starts to spew again around the time I need to be traveling, it could potentially be catastrophic to my travel plans (i.e. I would need to find alternate travel FAST). So now, I’m contemplating throwing away my plans for air travel and considering the only alternative I have: taking a cruise to the UK. Which wouldn’t be terrible, but it would be more expensive. And not as fast. It would take me approximately 6 days (some cruises are 16) to cross the northern Atlantic and I would be having anxiety attacks the whole time because I’d be hyperventilating about possibly being a passenger on the next Titanic-like disaster. Ridiculous yes, but it would still happen. But, if this volcano continues to be a nuisance...I’ll be on that ship regardless of my anxiety.


Currently, the only available cruise before I need to be in the UK is on August 8 on the Queen Mary 2 (arriving in Southampton August 14). I would need to find a hostel to live in for the month before my matriculation at RVC begins (September 11). So while it is feasible, it will be more expensive (like..$2000USD more). ALSO, RVC still says that international students won’t be able to apply for direct loans until end of July/early August. Again, bad thing. I need to be able to apply for my visa and have it in hand before I board the cruise, and in order for me to qualify as a visa holder, I need to have the loans secured and I need proof of loans before I can apply. AND: it would make it completely impossible to visit everyone before I leave, especially if I need to save as much money as possible to cover expenses. I really don’t want to have to do that, since I’m planning on spending a week with my grandparents in LI, a few days with my aunt in Brooklyn (probably will stretch to a week since I won’t want to leave), a weekend in Maryland OR Amagansett (depending on construction plans) with the cousins, and then a week with my sister in NOLA. So in order for me to do this, I would need to make my last day at Express the beginning of July (which would be AWESOME, since I’d only have 2 and a half months left to work, but not good for expenses).


SO. Do I err on the side of caution and book a cruise and hope that it's worth it (and I can get a room in a hostel for a month), or do I wait until July/August to book a flight and hope for the best?


FML.

11 April 2010

In 5 months...

I will be in the UK. It's kinda crazy to think about. Less than a year away. I can't believe how fast time has gone.

10 months ago...the VMCAS application opened. I was convinced that I would not get in to vet school. I was terrified. But I got it all done.

7 months ago...I submitted my application. I did it on Wednesday 9/9/2009 at 9pm. NOT on purpose, actually. I was in a bad place because I had just lost an uncle, and I needed to finish it before I forgot about it. So before I could forget about it, I triple checked it and said "F*ck it", sent it off and paid for it.

5 months ago...I was having a crappy week. I checked my email on my blackberry at 7:30am in the morning and almost cried when I read the invite from RVC to interview. I had to read it twice before I believed it. And then I read it again to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I remember getting out of bed and going into the dining room and telling my dad "Holy shit...I got an interview at Royal Veterinary College." I also ended up getting a promotion at work that day. I started loving Wednesdays.

3 months ago...I was freaking out about my interview. I was so worked up that after hand-steaming my interview outfit, I left it at work. Interview was on a Wednesday (seriously, good things happen on Wednesdays...) and immediately after, was told that they were offering places verbally to exceptional students and that I was one of those exceptional students. My sister said that she heard me squeal from the next room over. I deny that said squeal took place (but I was so blissfully ecstatic I could be wrong).

2 months ago...I got my email offer.

1 month ago...I got my packet in the mail.

2 weeks ago...I sent off my acceptance and payment information on a rainy Monday afternoon.

Now, all I can think about is that in 5 months exactly, I will be in the UK starting to realize a dream I've had since I was 9 years old. How many people actually get to SAY that?? I mean, yes. I will miss The States. I will miss my family deeply, and I'm terrified because I will miss very important things (like weddings, births, family events, etc). What if I don't fit in? What if I hate it? And, most importantly (and the scariest)...what if I can't do it? What if I get there, start the program and fail? I'm not equipped to handle failure. But what if I just can't do it?

I know this is normal to go through, but it's not like undergrad. I KNEW I could get into undergrad, and I knew that I would be able to get a degree. Piece of cake. But this is so completely different. This is what my life has been inching towards since I first opened that James Herriot book. What happens if I can't do it and then have no direction?

Sigh. I need to stop thinking so much. And ruminating over this. I got in. I'm going. I'm going to live it, breathe it and kick ass at doing it.

...

God, I'm a whiney bitch. But I have to get these insecurities out in order to get over them, yeah?

09 April 2010

Money's in!

RVC took the money out of my account this morning!

I'M OFFICIAL.

I got kinda worried because my bank told me the exchange rate would be 1.601, but it ended up only being 1.522! Yay for me! Less money for me to pay. And I didn't overdraft my account either. Phew. Wouldn't have wanted to pay those overdraft fees.

08 April 2010

Gotta love Wednesdays!

So today I got an email from the Head of Admissions about the scholarship that I was up for. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it. But I didn’t expect to get it anyway. Oh well. That just means I have to pay for my 1st year’s tuition. But BONUS. I got more info about the pre-sessional program that I have to attend (I believe the term was “compulsory”). It’s going to cost me 590£, which includes staying at the Lee Abbey London from September 11th through the 22nd, 3 meals a day, a 2 week travel card, and free(ish, I mean...I’m paying for it??) transport from Heathrow to Lee Abbey.


The first thing I thought was...I have to pay MORE to be in the program? But I guess it makes sense. The facilities won’t be available to freshers yet because they probably won’t be ready. And I get to be there by the 11th soo...not gonna complain. And 3 meals paid for with this? AND a travel card that gives me unlimited access to the London Underground AND buses? Do people get this on vacation for a $1000USD? I dunno. Maybe. But for 11 days? That breaks down to 90USD a day for room and board, a bus and underground pass, AND covers my transport via London Underground to Lee Abbey London. AND covers my transport to my actual place of living on the 22nd. Lee Abbey doesn’t look too bad, actually looks pretty nice.


More info to come when I get my Welcome packet in the summer. It’s getting so CLOSE.


...


I’M SO EXCITED. And I apparently I just can’t hide it. :D