Months, University

2017; a look back

I’m not going to write about 2017. There’s too much to say, so I’ll skip all the words and leave you with what I listened to for a year. Instead of writing about the year, or taking photos, the only thing I managed to do all year was to make monthly playlists of what I listened to each month.

There are repeats, they don’t make sense, the songs don’t go together, but in some way, they do. In little ways, these mix matched songs sum up a year. So enjoy them.

January

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February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July

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August

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September 

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October

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November

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December

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JANUARY

I didn’t wait two months to write this, shocking, I know.

January was an interesting month. I kicked it (and 2017) off with a very quiet New Year’s Eve featuring Planet Earth. It really was the best NYE I could have asked for.

The rest of my time in Texas was, busy, to say the least. It’s always a rush to get all the socializing in before leaving. This was also the first time my parents didn’t take me to the airport, as my flight was out of Houston so Morgan and I left the day before. It was interesting. One of the strange things is how different leaving feels every time. It’s not exactly easier, but it’s not harder. It’s a difficult thing to describe.

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The difficult thing about second semester (or term) is that there is no slow build up to life. It’s a head first dive into a very deep pool of work. Which, in short, is what my January back at uni felt like. While I ended my time at Enactus last term, I also became Women+ Officer for the university. It’s a job that I love, but is also a bit life-consuming. January had a steep learning curve adjusting to the meetings and committees I now sit on, as well as planning campaigns.

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Highlights of January included some really lovely friend and family time back in Texas, my first academic research trip, and University Court, which wouldn’t have been exciting except I was able to question the Vice Chancellor about his commitment to diversifying the top levels of university administration in public when he had to admit he hadn’t done what he had promised. Wild times in the life of a Student Politics nerd! I also attended a Women’s March on Lancaster, which was a wonderful time of protest but also positivity. There were also great dogs.

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I’ve also decided to try something a little fun and new, and make a monthly playlist of what I listened to, loved, and really summed up my month. So enjoy January!

Alex

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DECEMBER

I should write these on time.

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The beginning of December flew by in a whirlwind of essays, cold, and stress. I turned in around 12,000 words in essays before flying home a few days before term ended to catch Morgan’s graduation from nursing school.

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She is officially old. And brilliant, and responsible, and the coolest sister I could ask for. But the only new part is old.

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When you live far away, you have to cram the coming 6 months of being away into a month of time with friends

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And family.

December was good. The time off was very needed, as was the time with people. The food was a nice addition as well.

Alex

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NOVEMBER

It’s December 31st. I’m not sure I remember November. This has been on my to-do list for a month. I’m really bad a blogging, I know.

November was a train wreck, to be honest. I’m looking back at my calendar now and I’m not sure how it all happened. I think I say that a lot.

I got a research internship with our Peace Studies Research Institute, working on a project about refugee literacy programs. I went to Scottland. Anna made me come out of debate retirement for a day. I liveblogged and talked on radio for 7+ hours for the US election, and stayed up over 40 because of the time difference.I got a job working for our International Student office as our International Student Ambassador for the US & Canada. I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and fell in love with the Harry Potter universe all over again. I went to the Women’s Equality Party Conference as a press delegate, which was inspiring and exciting. I gave a speech for an election, in an avocado sweater. I quit Enactus. I got another job working for our Arts organization on International Outreach.

Then I slept for a weekend before essays started.

Well, that was November?

 

Alex

 

 

 

 

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OCTOBER

Coming back this year I was determined to blog more. Clearly, that didn’t go well.

October was the first full month back in England, and the start of my second year of uni. I’m not sure if it was having 3 months off that made me forget how busy things were, or if this year is just really that busy. I’m going to say the first so I feel better.

  
Academically, 2nd year is incredible, and incredibly hard. Since I get to choose all of my classes and they’re all major specific, I’m lucky to enjoy the topics of all of my classes. However, I think I underestimated the amount of reading and critical thinking that go into a theory-heavy course load, so although I love my classes they can be a bit draining. But if you ever want to talk about critical theories of development, I’m your girl.

  
(Me at ‘Peak Alex’, as Anna calls it) 

I’m living in town this year, which is a nice change from campus. I knew I wanted to try and separate ‘work’ and ‘home’ – something especially difficult for students since we don’t have ‘working hours’ – and having physical distance between the two has been very helpful. Still not great about not answering emails/messages late at night, but baby steps.

   

 
 To end this on a fun note, here is my Halloween story. Note: Halloween is quite different in the UK than the US, it’s more of an excuse to party than for small children to trick-or-treat. Basically, since Halloween was on a Monday night, I quickly forgot that it was Halloween and it was just another busy Monday. Anna and I however quickly remembered, when we went to get the bus back to town at 11:45 and were quickly surrounded by drunk freshers in costume. Nothing quite like the bus you take home being the bus others are taking to a night out. Clearly my life is quite exciting.

Well that was October (about a month late).

Alex

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SEPTEMBER

There is a point just before a trip or moving or an event where it hits you. And while the entire month of September was leading up to heading back to school, it didn’t hit me until the Saturday morning before I left. Standing in the shower with too much shampoo in my hair I suddenly realized I had basically 3 days before I left and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where all my months of summer went.

September is the month that gets squished in the preparation to go back to school. A year ago it was a mad (and incredibly stressful) rush to get visas and paperwork and packing done, and while this year the first two were taken care of, the latter was put off until the last minute again. The weeks leading up were filled with work (and more work, and some more work) and the usual doctors appointments. A few not as usual doctors appointments and an MRI, but everything was wrapped up in time for the trip back across the ocean.

  

I did manage to squeeze in a trip up to Dallas, in what seems to be becoming a tradition. That whirlwind trip aside, September was filled with family and home, as my last month in the country should be.

  

My last weekend may have been my favourite of the whole summer though. Thursday through Sunday were a family filled (thanks to Moo for coming home) string of fun, an incredible way to wrap up the break.

 

  

   

Of course September did mean that school activities started up, from getting class schedules (why do I still have all of Wednesday off, but class all day Friday?) to the first edition of SCAN (school newspaper). A number of skype meetings, grant proposals, and enough emails to rival my work emails later, everything seems (nearly) ready to go for the start of school, or at least Fresher’s week.

I’m back in Lancaster a few days before Fresher’s (Welcome) week, and a week and half before school actually starts. Why I thought being a Fresher’s Rep (our version of RA’s – don’t live on campus, most of the focus is during the first week) was a good idea I will never know. A theme that seems to be reoccurring in my life.

  

September is wrapping up from my new house (which will be a post of its own), very far away from where it started.

Alex

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AUGUST

I don’t quite know how it’s already September. It feels like July started just yesterday. As the middle of my 3-month summer, my August was not filled with ‘back to school’ like the rest of the world seemed to be. There was something incredibly nice about looking at the ‘back to school’ displays while still having another month-and-a-half left of summer. Maybe that’s kind of what not being in school feels like.

  
Unfortunately, it also meant that by the end of August, everyone else was moving back to school. It’s an interesting way to see school start, but its probably not my favourite part of summer.

August was another one of those work-filled summer months, something I’m sure is preparing me for the real world no matter how much I don’t enjoy it.

  
Morgan and I also went to Arkansas this August for a weekend of much-needed sister time since living on different continents seriously limits how much time we get to spend together. It was a really wonderful trip, more details can be found here.

   
 August didn’t end with a bang, other than being the last month ending here in Texas. Like June although I spend most of September here in Texas, I’ll end it in Lancaster. So August was the month in the middle, a little slower, a little quieter, and a little break before the rest of the world picks up again.

Alex

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JULY

What do you mean its the end of August and this hasn’t been written…

July was a lot like April, but without the variety of countries and school work. It was however, almost constant travel and lots of work, just of a different kind. Becuase I do really hate having ‘nothing’ to do, I decided having two jobs, ie working 40+ hours, was a good idea for my summer. And while it can be a little exhausting, it does keep me busy!

On the more fun side of things, July was 3 (back to back) weekends of travel, and a whole lot of family!

It’s been a very long time since we went to a family wedding, so my cousin’s wedding in early July was a great chance to see a lot of extended family. It was an incredibly sweet event, very personal and thought out!


  
I got to finally see my sister after 6 months, although it took a trip to Houston for that to happen. Major downsides to being uni students, though summer was her last academic semester of nursing school!


  
We also took a trip out to Odessa to see the other side of the family, and were immediately  overfed at every opportunity because that’s what grandmothers do.


July was also when I started wanting to go back to school. I don’t know if its the distance, the fact that I like school, or the desire for my normal schedule that has made me want to back to school. I’m so happy to have a break and get to spend time with family and friends, but at the same time, 3 months feels so much longer than it did before. But maybe that’s just the Texas heat talking.

 

Alex

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JUNE

*let’s all ignore that this is literally almost 2 months late, okay? Okay.*

June was strange. June was exams and meetings and planes and work. June went from 60 degrees to 100 degrees.

2 out of my 3 exams were in June, so the first 2.5 weeks were really just lost to books, notes and too much time in the library. But of course, that was consistently interrupted by meetings, activities, and requests for ‘Alex Please Fix This’. To illustrate, here is a photo of me absolutely losing it in the rain while holding dropping a container of bagels. Probably actually a good illustration of most of my life.

I flew back to Texas on a Tuesday, and I feel like it has been a week, not 6. Between friends, family, cross-Texas road trips every weekend, and work (so much work) time has flown by. But June was nice. It ended a school year and started summer, so the stress of exams is quickly lost to the joy of sunshine and live music and late nights sitting in the driveway with friends I don’t get to see 9 months of the year.

 

 Alex

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MAY

This is the last month I will end here in the UK until I come back in September, and that feels really strange. I’m not leaving particularly soon, but I will end June (very jetlagged) in Austin. So here is May.

When writing these monthly summaries, I pull up my calendar and look at the month overview. May looks empty in comparison. In reaction to April’s weekly travel, I stayed very much in Lancaster this month, with only one trip of about 30 minutes away to attend a Romanian Orthodox Easter service. My rule was no trips I had to pack for, and that happened. For the first time since before I moved I’ve spent every night in the same city. It feels wild to say that, but its been nice. I’ve felt settled.

May is a transition month. It’s between spring and summer, it’s almost the end of a school year, it’s just so in between. This month has felt different, and for so many reasons it has been. Sometimes it’s felt like I’ve just been waiting for something. I don’t know if that’s exams, or going home, or anything really. I’ve felt jittery and on edge, and not just from too much coffee. Not having lectures has left a lot more empty space in my week, and it can be hard to structure life with so much empty time.

 

I really think one of the things we don’t discuss and don’t know how to prepare for as university students is the fact that there isn’t a schedule or routine. Life is not 9-5 where the day ends and you might take work home but not always. Your classes are scattered around, the work you do is always changing, just like the amount. You both always have studying to do, but also have so little structure around when all of that occurs. You don’t have an office, you work where you socialize where you sleep and eat and live and everything else you do with your life. It means that “work” doesn’t get to stop because you went home, or its the weekend. And I know actual jobs can be the same, but there is something incredibly challenging about that structure for students.

May was different. Both March and April were so busy and stressful, its hard to compare them to May because it was a different stress. I don’t feel like I’ve been running for the past 31 days this time around. I’ve got one exam left and less than 20 days till I’m back in Austin.

I know June will be about how strange and difficult leaving will be, so lets leave May as the month I spent just here, not being pulled around the continent, or the world, just here (mostly in the library) for the last time this year.

Alex

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