Can I just say how glad I am that I chose a one-year accelerated master’s program, so I could get all the information that comes with a regular two-year master’s program in only 12 months of mental abuse instead of 24, and while I gain that extra year, it takes approximately a decade off my life. WHAT A DEAL!
So listen, they say that time gives perspective, and I think whoever “they” is has a point. I turn 24 next month (gross), and I know that while that may not seem like much, it’s all I’ve got so far, and I don’t intend on trying to speed it up. Time is this terribly frustratingly exciting and horrifying concept that dictates so many aspects of our lives. It won’t slow down for anybody or anything, and it only seems to fly by when all you want is for it to stop, so you can just keep living in whatever beautiful moment you’re experiencing. If you ask me, it’s pretty shit.
Apparently though, it WILL slow down when you’re being mentally abused by your master’s program. Right now, time is not on my side. I started this master’s program almost 10 weeks ago and it was around week 5 that shit really started to get real. Within the course of five weeks we had a European Law exam (which I miraculously passed, in case anyone was curious), a research paper based on EU/UN policy analysis (on which I kicked ass, bc words are like the only thing I’m good at – she says while ending a phrase in a preposition), a Political Economics exam (which chewed me up and spit me out and which I will not pass unless the professor gives a very generous curve), and two in-class presentations which we were told would not be graded but were not informed until presentation time that they would be harshly judged (in our case as “reasonably okay-ish”). But it’s fine, I’m not bitter. In the last 6 weeks, my frame of reference for time has been warped like never before. I can tell you right now that I will not get an actual, restful, full night of sleep until I turn in my thesis in exactly 259 days. But who’s counting? It’s me. I am counting. I don’t know what day it is, the gym is a long-lost friend, and I haven’t gotten more than five hours of sleep in a night since mid-November. But on the plus side, I don’t have to wear eyeliner anymore bc the black circles around my eyes are prominent enough without it. It’s the little things, people.
In a broader, more ideological sense of time and perspective, holy crap what a difference a few years can make in a person. In high school, I once got a C in geometry class (1. Shut up I suck at math and 2. I said shut UP). It was my first ever grade in high school that wasn’t an A, and my dad came home to me bawling at the kitchen table with such dramatic flair that he assumed somebody had literally died considering my reaction. Nobody died. Except maybe my dignity. Fast forward a few years to my bachelors: I still pretty much thought anything but an A was unacceptable, I just got better about finding a balance between casual alcoholism, three jobs, and studying my ass off. Still pretty impressed by myself for that tbh, though I'm fairly certain my liver still hates me for it. Living in Spain taught me to relax a little bit, and my time interning in Germany reminded me that your whole life can’t be a vacation, so I maintained my balance. And now, a year of big-kid-adulty work and another year of traveling the world and messing around later, here I sit in my master’s lecture on the democratic deficit and political dynamics in the EU, writing to you people instead of listening to the 900 year old British professor talking slower than the sloth at the DMV in Zootopia (Flash, for those of you hip to kids movies like myself). Mind you, I would be furiously typing notes right now if this class had an exam at the end, but it’s a paper instead… so here I sit, ignoring 90% of the things coming out of his face. If you look around the classroom right now, you’ll see 23 of some of the smartest people I’ve ever met slowly drifting off into sleep. It’s not just me, people. We’re all over it. Mentally, I checked out about a week and a half ago, which made the effort I put into my last two presentations questionable at best. At this point I’m actually just looking to pass my exams; getting an A is so not even remotely on my radar anymore. Like I said, time changes things man. Dad would be proud.
Also, it’s important to remember that even when I’m literally dying trying to memorize the equation for the interest parity principle or comprehend flow of migration and welfare effects diagrams, I am still so unbelievably happy to be here. On almost a daily basis, it hits me how grateful I am to literally just exist here. And it doesn’t always happen when I’m doing something particularly amazing like visiting the beautiful Christmas markets or having a potluck with some of the amazing people this program has brought into my life. It hits me when I’m biking to class (despite the frigid temperatures that make my face hurt and my perpetual fear of falling off the bike bc of who I am as a person, which some people are happy to point out has happened once already this year). It hits me when I wake up and drink my morning coffee with the beautiful view from my balcony (which I currently appreciate from inside my apartment through the window bc like I said it’s frickin’ cold). It hits me when I use German for everything from talking about daily life to having serious chats to ordering at a restaurant or help tourists with directions bc I’m finally figuring out my new city. It hits me when I’m sitting in class making a valiant attempt at comprehending the information on a completely new topic from whatever brilliant mind my program flew in to instruct us for the week. Everything about being here feels right, and I could not be more grateful for my life and the people in it.
As it stands, I leave for California in 24h and have yet to pack, find Christmas presents for my family, or get any single aspect of my life together. What’s new? According to my sister Jess (who Face-timed me at 6am today telling me as I was just waking up that I looked like I just crawled out of a trash can – thanks Jess), I should pack a bikini and shorts, some snowboarding clothes, something to go clubbing in, and presents for her from Germany. Easier said than done considering I only get a carry-on and a personal item bc ya girl is too poor to check a bag and all my friends from here want me to bring back everything from Stevia to make-up and I plan to bring even more clothes back to Germany from California and rolling my clothes instead of folding them can really only do so much in terms of saving space. We’ll see how this goes.
The fact that I will wake up tomorrow morning in my bed in Germany (at five in the damn morning, ugh) and go to sleep tomorrow night in my sister’s bed in California ( bc I no longer have a bedroom in my house bc my parents do not love me) is still absolutely unbelievable to me, despite the number of times it has happened in the past. I am so excited for so many things. My dog (only the good one, the other one is old and ugly), Mexican food, the beach, my snowboard, above-freezing temperatures… my friends and family, I guess… the list goes on. In 38 hours, I’ll be in the car on my way home from LA, severely jetlagged but insanely happy, which is a pretty remarkable thing to be able to say.
So before then, I guess I should put down this glass of wine and get to packin', folx.
Until next time!
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
(in August in the US)