Last year during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I opened up for the first time on the blog about my nearly decade-long struggle with an eating disorder. The theme in 2015 was ‘I Had No Idea’ and in a way, that encapsulated my story perfectly. I was able to keep it together on the surface enough to seem like I was totally fine, succeeding in many aspects of my life, while on the inside I was a wreck. I won’t rehash the whole thing here, since you can read about it in that post, but this year I’m raising awareness again by focusing on the idea that three minutes can save a life.
There’s something I’ve wanted to share for the past week, but wanted to take the time to properly sort out how I wanted to share it! Last Thursday, I went back to visit Oxford for the first time since leaving more than three years ago, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences in me and my life from then to now, and the role that Oxford played in making me the person I am today.
The Old Quad of Brasenose
Greetings from England! I thought I wasn’t going to post while here, but I have so much I want to jot down so I can remember it for myself that I changed my mind. It’ll be a picture per sentence kind of day since I’m writing on my iPad and have spent all day out and about, but here’s a look at the first three days of my trip across the pond 🙂
Good morning! Today is the first day of the return of the Pond Hopper, aka what I used to call myself when I was flying back and forth across the Atlantic 3 times a year for my 3 years of college. The Atlantic Ocean is the “pond” and I am the “hopper” in case you were wondering 🙂 It was also the title of the novel I wrote my senior year of high school, before the actual hopping commenced. Of course, I’m a not-so-teenage Pond Hopper now. More like a twentysomething Pond Hopper. Anyway, I’m headed back for the first time since the end of Oxford and I couldn’t be more excited! I was on a flight leaving NYC around 10pm Tuesday evening, for an arrival at Heathrow this morning.
As promised yesterday, I’m ending July and kicking off August with a post featuring my plans for post-exam travel! As is traditional, most law firms have their first-year associates start working at least one month after the exam in late July, and typically closer to two. Everyone needs the time to unwind and relax before diving in to a demanding new job. Most recent grads take some sort of “bar trip” which can mean anything from a six-week-long backpacking trip in Southeast Asia, to three weeks of luxury globetrotting, to a week down the Cape with friends and family. Some people even use it as the perfect time for a wedding and honeymoon. Others choose to go home and do absolutely nothing. I’m planning a bit of a grab bag, beginning with my August adventures.
I’ve pounded the pavement right out of NYC for the next couple of months!
I’ve been in a bit of a nostalgic mood recently, what with finishing my final law school classes and harkening back to my Oxford exams, setting up my bar exam study materials, and preparing for law school graduation. I’ve been using my blessed two weeks of free time to get in some good long runs, time with friends, and serious ice cream eating. But I’ve also been thinking about how fast time seems to have passed by, mostly because I, ever the Luddite, finally installed the Timehop app on my phone and am now inundated each morning with snapshots of what I was doing on that day the year before…and two years…and four years…and eight years ago!
Eight years. That’s how far back Timehop can track, because that’s how long I’ve been on Facebook. I opened an account in early 2007, during my sophomore year of high school, which feels like another lifetime. I’m a little scared by the fact that fully one-third of my life has been documented on Facebook and other social media, and I’m well aware of the ramifications of that. But seeing photographic evidence right in front of me of who I was eight years ago, and then looking in the mirror at the girl I am today, is a powerful reminder of how I’ve grown and changed into an almost-law-school-graduate.
Last Thursday, I mentioned that the end of law school feels a lot less like an end, and more like a beginning. So goes the circle of life. Now I’m thinking about that even more, because yesterday I took my last final exam of law school. There is the bar exam, but I’m trying NOT to think about that for the next week! Mostly, I’m flashing back to Finals at Oxford. They felt very, well, final. About a fortnight before I left, I experienced the tradition known as ‘trashing’ that takes place when you finish Finals, and it comes at the end of what feels like a lifetime of ‘revision’ (studying – there’s an Oxford term for every word!) The day I actually left felt more like a slow fade into the next phase of life, the beginning; trashing was the end that circled into it.
Brasenose in winter
The way it works at Oxford is that you apply and are admitted to a college to study a specific subject. That’s difficult for a lot of Americans to fathom; our liberal arts college system is built on exploring all sorts of academic areas. Oxford (and Cambridge) focus on depth rather than breadth, so that even within History I specialized in a few areas and really learned a lot about them. For that reason, very few American students study as full-time undergraduates – after all, how many 17-year-olds are ready to commit like that? I knew I loved history, and I do wish I could have dabbled a bit elsewhere. Then again, it was the experience of a lifetime, and I would never trade it for anything else. The tutorial system, where students meet weekly with a tutor (professor) and study and read and write on their own otherwise, really suited me, and I appreciated the chance to learn in a self-directed way, through individual exploration.
I’m starting off the weekend with a recap of all the good things that happened in April and what I’m looking forward to now that it’s May. April’s away, May to stay! Running and recipes, friends and family, walks and talks, school and play…there’s a lot to cover this lovely Saturday. Afterwards, I’ll be outside enjoying the sunshine!
In April, I…
Had my last day of class at law school, meaning my last ever last day of school! (My favorite English teacher from high school told me one should never say never, but it feels pretty final to me.)
Got into a springtime running groove, in the wake of the NYC Half Marathon in March. I’ve been hovering around 25 miles per week, maybe a few more, split between three weekday runs of 5-6 miles and a long weekend run of 8-9 miles. My recent 4-miler may not have been a PR, but it was still pretty awesome to get to race in real spring sunshine.
May dawned upon us this morning, and though the first day of a new month is always a time to begin anew, this one requires more than just whispering ‘rabbit, rabbit’ when you wake! Back in Oxford, May Morning is special. At dawn on May Day students stay up all night, or just wake up really early, and walk to stand beneath Magdalen Tower or on Magdalen Bridge. The Magdalen College Choir sings a hymn from the top of the tower to greet the dawn, and other music and festivities occur in the streets. Afterwards, people generally go to breakfast (and then sometimes back to bed, if they’ve been up all night after a ball – or they have to get on the river to train for Summer Eights!) My friends and I made the most of May Morning in our second year, when no one had exams in the summer term, and I still remember breakfasting afterwards at Patisserie Valerie on the High Street, everyone laughing and chatting companionably despite the sleep fogging our minds. There were lots of exciting times at Oxford, but that one stands out particularly in my memory because it was just so casual and normal, and yet so wonderful – one of the little moments that, strung together with a host of other good times, makes for the most wonderful memories.
This morning began with a run along the East River, and though I wasn’t up in time to watch the sun rise, I did get to see some lovely sights. Roosevelt Island always looks pretty from the path.
Yesterday was my last day of law school classes, which means it was quite probably my last day of school ever. After three long years of classes and internships, exams and papers, interviews and awkward apartment parties, graduation is almost here. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It doesn’t seem real that less than a month from now, I will be officially out of academia and preparing for the bar exam (that is the real end of all this!) 13 years of primary and secondary school, 3 years of college, 3 years of law school – if you count preschool, it’s actually more than two decades, which is practically my whole life to this point!
It’s unbelievable how fast time flies. And it seems like it’s gone by even faster, because my perspective on time is a little twisted around. When I first went to Oxford, it felt like I was going to college, and going on an adventure in another country, but in the end I grew to have another world entirely. Get on the plane in New York, and leave my ‘real’ life behind. Get off the plane in London and arrive in Oxford soon after, and enter my ‘Oxford’ world, where what was going on in the US seemed very far away, not just physically but mentally. And vice versa. The result of this was that, after my last trip home to the US, Oxford not only felt far away in the aftermath, but began very quickly to seem almost like a dream. We always look back with rose-colored glasses at the past, I think, but in this case, it wasn’t that I didn’t remember the rougher patches – it was that the glorious moments eclipsed them. The tricky part for me is keeping the memories sharp and in focus, when they all seem to take on the hazy quality of a dream.