To be determined

When I sat down in my little cubby hole to write this (I am literally sitting in the hallway in a little alcove that I seemed to have claimed as my own), I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to write about. I always run into problems deciding what to talk about on here because, let’s be honest, I’m not terribly exciting. And, contrary to popular belief, there isn’t too much to do in Oxford on the weekend if you are on a tight budget, so I usually stay at the house and hang out with people, which is actually quite good fun since I like everyone here. Tonight I was sitting in the kitchen with Ryan, Sonya, and Meredith, when Ryan brought up that he thought Pixar’s “Up” was the greatest love story of all time, which, inevitably (in a household of nerds and amateur movie critics), led to a lengthy discussion on which male fictional character was the best. Ryan (sorry, I’m publishing it) said it was Mr. Darcy which, of course, had a profound impact because Sonya didn’t agree. Words were flying, arguments ensued, people were brought into the conflict, alliances were formed–it wasn’t pretty. Okay actually it was a lot of fun and a pretty good way to spend your Saturday night if you’re into literary discussions with some of your closest friends (which I am).

So that seems like a pretty random story, right? Well, not necessarily…

[Segue.]

Over the past week I’ve been having some good discussions with a few of my friends here, which led me to realize that I feel very disconnected from everything. It’s actually been a long time since I started to feel this way. Being a college student means you’re away from home for extended periods of time, so over the course of a four year period, you lose touch with most of the people you were close to in high school. They either went to different colleges, started working or moved away, starting their own lives. Of course, we all said, “We’ll keep in touch,” but people rarely do. And that doesn’t mean that we care about each other any less, but people change and after high school you usually leave your parents house either because you’re away at school or are starting your own family. Totally normal stuff.

Coming to the end of my college (*cough* undergrad *cough*) career I’m starting to feel the same way I did in high school, but being here in Oxford has made that feeling especially pronounced. In a sense, like one of my friends here said of herself, “I don’t really belong anywhere.” I don’t belong in Oxford because I’m really just passing through (unless I somehow ended up back here in the future for good). My time here is limited, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My time here has given me a chance to learn a lot of things, both academically and about myself. But I don’t belong here. In a few months I will get on a plane and go back to my “home,” so I’m going to enjoy the time I have left.

But, really, what is that? I don’t belong at my home university–I’m graduating in May. As of now, I’m not sure where I’ll be at for my Master’s, so I may be back there in the fall. But, still, I won’t really belong there anymore since the program is online. And I actually don’t feel like I belong in my hometown either. I love my house and I love my mom and my sisters, but I’m not the biggest fan of our town. It’s so small and there is literally no where to go, so if I’m at home I usually don’t leave the house. Which is fine most of the time. And since I didn’t do such a great job of staying in touch with people from high school, I really only have a few friends in the area and it’s pretty tough to get together because they all have lives and families and I’m in a serious relationship with books. (Oh, the life of an academic.)

I’m not entirely sure why all these thoughts have been surfacing lately. I guess it’s because of some recent conversations, but I’m realizing how difficult it will actually be when I graduate and leave my friends at school. Sooner than that I will leave the awesome people I’ve met here, which leads me to constantly feel disconnected from everything and everyone. I haven’t known anyone here for longer than two months, so it’s such a strange feeling to be comfortable around everyone and yet have that departure hanging in the future, marking the end of our time here together. I know a lot of us will keep in touch (what else is technology for?), but it will be a lot different than our whirlwind friendships in Oxford.

And what’s more, I feel quite disconnected from my friends at my home university. I have a terrible quality where I feel like I’m bothering people when I talk to them, so I usually wait for them to talk to me first, leading to an awkward lull in communication (at least awkward in my mind) as I try to decide what to say and when to say it. I’m not really sure how to get past this awkwardness except to force myself to send them random Facebook messages or wait for someone else to get in touch first. Not having a phone is part of the problem, although I really love that it’s just sitting in my drawer being useless. So, hey, if you’re my friend at school and you’re reading this, TALK TO ME. Because I love you and want to talk. [Tangent.]

I know that when I get back things are going to be really strange when I return to school for the last two weeks of the semester. And then I’ll graduate. Yikes. (Where are the breaks on this ride?)

At first when I thought up my blog title, “To be determined” meant that I just didn’t have a title yet, but now I realize it’s quite fitting. My whole life is TBD because I literally have my entire future in front of me with only a vague inclination of where to go. For most people (or everyone, probably), life isn’t a straight line with humongous signposts telling you “HOW MANY MILES TO THE NEXT EXIT.” Life is more like a walk in a heavily wooded area where the path isn’t very clear–grass has grown up and leaves are covering it in places, so you only get glimpses of what direction you’re heading. And you’ll probably encounter a lot of twists and turns and might even crash into a few trees, but that doesn’t mean you’re not on a path.

Because I’m essentially untethered to the world I once lived in, my future is completely open–I can go anywhere I want and be anything I want to be.

And that fact is a wonderful and terrifying thing. Wish me luck!

Cheers,

Katina

Oxford wisdom

This post is going to be a little bit random–much less about what I’m doing here in England, more about what I’ve learned from my experience so far. Not all of it is academic-related, so don’t run away because you’re afraid I’m going to write a lecture on how Napoleon Bonaparte resembles Julius Caesar or why, during World War I, peace negotiations failed in 1916 and 1917. That’s not what this post is about (although if you want to know, send me an e-mail–or read a book about it! I can recommend some good ones–heh, Oxford).

1. Human contact is important–no, it’s imperative–to survival

Now, you may be asking what that means exactly. You might say “I talk to people every day.” This might be true, but if I’m not mistaken, you spend an awful lot of time staring at your phone or the computer as you “communicate” with other people (especially if you’re younger). I’m not trying to hate on technology or say that it’s an awful thing, obviously, since I’m using it to write this very blog post. But it’s my opinion that our technological devices (phones, Facebook, ect.) have replaced our contact with actual humans. See, being here at Oxford, I don’t have a working phone. At first, I was terrified to be with out a phone. The usual, “Oh my gosh, what if I get lost?” or “What if there’s an emergency?” Yeah, those are all valid reasons to have a phone, but once I figured out the lay of the land and probably wouldn’t need a phone, I’ve found it oddly freeing. It’s quite fantastic to go out on your own and wander around in peace without fear of being interrupted by an electronic device. Because, let’s face it, usually when I get a text or phone call, it’s because someone wants something from me. And I’ll still use my phone once I’m back in the States, but I think I’m going to try to be less reliant on it than I was before. And, usually, the calls that I do get aren’t life and death: those things can wait.

Wow, you probably think I diverged from my point, don’t you? But, like I said earlier, technology has replaced our contact with humans. Sometimes, I feel more like I’m in a relationship with my phone than with another person, and that’s not good. At least in my opinion. Since I don’t have a phone here, I am constantly talking to PEOPLE and it’s actually kind of amazing. Not that you can’t develop and maintain relationships through technology (which, really is great, considering I’m so far away from home and my family and friends there), but I’m learning it’s important to live where you are, in the moment, instead of through your phone or the internet. While I’ve been here, I’ve had some really meaningful conversations with people and gotten to know them in a relatively short amount of time–which is crazy considering how long it usually takes an introvert like me to get comfortable with people! All through face-to-face interactions. That’s why I find tea dates so lovely–while at Oxford, you’re extremely busy with lectures, researching, and writing papers, so you have to intentionally find time to spend with people or you’ll actually start to go insane. I’m a big believer in finding time to be by yourself, but interacting with people is also important. And I really have come to love my friends here, they’re so kind and just wonderful to be around.

So, yeah. Human contact is a must for living in general.

2. You can make it up that hill

Whether it’s a “mental” hill, like the end of a double week and finally finishing your last tutorial paper or a physical hill–like, literally, a freaking huge hill that I hate walking up and will probably never be able to ride my bike up: Headington Hill–you’ll get to the top. Eventually. This bit will be a lot shorter, just because it kind of speaks for itself. Sooner or later, whatever you’re tackling comes to an end and you do, in fact, reach the top of that monstrous hill. Sometimes the going is incredibly slow and you feel like you’re moving backward or that everyone is zooming past you (like an old man on his cycle while you huff and puff and have to get off and walk yours), but you get there eventually. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you have to have patience in life. With everything. And that’s incredibly hard, but worth it in the end because you know you worked hard to get where you’re at.

3. All good things come to an end, but enjoy where you’re at

Sounds premature, right? I feel like I’ve been here for two days, but it’s been over six weeks since we first arrive. And, yes, it will end. Which is the worst, really, because I love it here and honestly would never want to leave if it weren’t for my friends and family back home (and one tap in the bathroom sink and dryers that actually dry your clothes). Soon I’ll have to go home, but it’ll be okay because my time here has been amazing and hopefully I’ll be able to come back (not too long, okay? I need clotted cream in my life). And, hey, I never thought I’d actually be here in the first place, so that is proof that amazing things can happen if you work hard. I guess that would just be another hill.

4. Life is grand

I’m alive, having this amazing experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I guess the theme of this post is to live in the moment. Yes, there are things we need to take care of (like the pile of reading I still have sitting on my desk), but that shouldn’t take away your appreciation for where you are. Right now.

So, I really don’t know if this post has said anything. It may be that no one even reads this because it really is quite random. I suppose it was mostly just for me to get these thoughts out of my brain where they’ve been running around for a few days, but that’s still okay. At least they’re out of my head, so other words can take their place: “Words, words, words! I’m so sick of words!”

Cheers!

Katina

Fifth week blues, sixth week sprint.

Wow, look at that clever title. I just rolled off my fingers and here we are. I guess studying at Oxford has helped. At least now it doesn’t take me ten minutes to think of a blog title. Accomplishment.

So, you may ask, what is the meaning of my title? Well, we just finished up or fifth week of term here at Oxford, a time where many scholars develop the “Fifth week blues.” Don’t worry, apparently everyone experiences it. It’s a time where the end is somewhere, but we wish it were here right now. A time where books stop making sense and papers take eons to write.

But, thankfully, fifth week is over and onto sixth week. So, only three more weeks left of term. Wait, WHAT? Three weeks? It feels like I just got here yesterday! It’s kind of terrible to feel your time slipping away so quickly, as Dick Van Dyke said in Mary Poppins, “Like sand through a sieve.” So, technically, I only have five more essays to write for term, which is a HUGE blessing–especially since my paper for my sixth week primary is over halfway written. Which is why I feel like I can take a break and write this. Plus, I realized I’ve barely updated since I’ve been here, so I figured I should try to be a better blogger.

Well, a few exciting things happened at the end of fourth week and then this past Friday of fifth week. On the Saturday of fourth week, I went to tea (AGAIN? MORE TEA?) with my dear friend, Sonya, which was so delightful and lovely. Honestly, tea dates really are the best thing in the world and I think they are a MUST for maintaining your sanity in Oxford. That and clotted cream and scones. It makes me really sad knowing that there isn’t clotted cream in the U.S. You here that, country, get it together. Clotted cream is where it’s at.

Then, this past Friday we had an optional field trip to Blenheim Palace! This was extremely exciting for me because Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim and his father’s brother was the Duke of Marlborough, so I was geeking out the whole time. Plus, the grounds are spectacular, as is the house (if you call a humongous palace a house, really).

Monument for the Battle of Blenheim

Monument for the Battle of Blenheim

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Blenheim Palace

We traipsed around the grounds for hours and my shoes got very, very muddy (I never wear my boots–WHY?), but it was still fun, albeit, exhausting. After making our way to the back of Blenheim (and seeing lots of sheep and gorgeous blue skies), we walked into the little town of Woodstock where we visited Churchill’s grave (WHICH WAS SO COOL–OH MY GOSH! I LOVE WINSTON CHURCHILL!) and our leader, Simon told us a couple of fun facts about the Churchill family. After poking around inside the little church, we walked further into town where we had, can you guess? TEA!

I love cream tea!

I love cream tea!

It was DELICIOUS–scones and jam and clotted cream and wonderful, warm, lovely tea. Seriously, America, you need to jump on the tea and clotted cream train because it is amazing.

Well, that’s probably enough discussion about tea and clotted cream and Blenheim Palace–although I’m sure I will make another post about the delights of tea and clotted cream. Such good stuff.

Anyway, I should probably get back to writing my primary tute paper for sixth week. Because, of course, it’s a double week and that means I have not one, but TWO tutorials this week. Plus, we have to turn in our seminar essay proposals next week for the post-term classes. A thousand words about I don’t know what. Oh, this is going to be good.

Cheers!

Katina

I finally found the sun.

Wow, I haven’t updated for a while, which shows how busy I am over here. Or how boring I am (because updating would actually mean I had something to share). It’s probably comforting for my friends back at home to know I am still the same old, slightly boring me–just in an infinitely cooler location.

But, alas, I haven’t updated for many moons, so I figured I would while there was a lull in my afternoon (it’s called procrastination).

What, you may ask, has caused my extended absence from blogging? Studying. Loads and loads of studying. That’s what we here at Oxford like to call our research/paper writing process. Now, studying isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If there’s tea and some kind of snackage involved, it’s usually enjoyable. But the libraries here at Oxford are quite stringent about eating food amidst terribly old books–it’s a HUGE no-no. This means I avoid long stints in the library because I usually get hungry halfway through my time there and, thus, become distracted from studying. So I bring my books back to the house with me (if they were actually at the library in the first place) or head to our program’s offices where I can drink tea/coffee/hot chocolate for 20 pence a cup (about 30 cents with the current exchange rate). Plus, there’s something oppressive about being in an old (and beautiful) building where thousands, maybe millions, of students throughout the years have studied and worried about tutorials. I think the Radcliffe Camera is haunted by past Oxford students, coming back to take their revenge on the books.

Not that all my time here is spent studying. Most of it is, which means I STILL haven’t properly explored the city–hopefully that will be a weekend excursion fairly soon–but I’ve found a little bit of time for adventuring (although my version of adventuring isn’t terribly exciting) and relaxation.

Last Saturday, a group of girls and I walked to C.S. Lewis’ grave site at Holy Trinity Church and then his house at, the Kilns! Surprisingly, it wasn’t raining and the sun was shining! I hadn’t seen the sun in so long, so it was wonderful. See, the thing about England is that it is almost constantly covered in a blanket of clouds–and those clouds tend to have a lot of water inside of them. So it was quite a strange thing to actually SEE the sun. It probably sounds strange, but I never realized how much I could miss it.

C.S. Lewis grave sign

The Kilns

The Kilns

We didn’t go inside the house because it cost £5 and an appointment was needed, but we were able to go to the nature reserve just down the road. We hiked to the top of a hill (where I muddied up my walking shoes because I hadn’t worn my boots–oops), which was lovely because the sun was STILL out. I know I keep going on about the sun, but you really miss it after a few weeks. Vitamin D is important.

Sunday was as exciting as Saturday, although not nearly so sunny. Before church at Headington Baptist, a gentleman approached us who we’d talked to the Sunday before, inviting us to lunch at his house–where his wife made curry and we had apple strudel. There were five of us who went to their house and it was one of the nicest Sundays I’ve had here so far (partly because I’d already written my paper)–they were so friendly and the entire family radiated God’s love. After a delicious meal, we watched the British television show, Fawlty Towers (British humor with John Cleese!), before washing the dishes for them and then heading back to the Vines where there was MORE food waiting for us. There was a special tea party with lots of cakes and scones and baklava and TEA. There is always tea.

Speaking of tea, this afternoon I had a lovely tea date with, Caroline, a girl from the house. We went to a place near the Radcliffe Camera, The Vaults & Garden. Apparently it was kind of expensive (sorry, Mom–it was only £4.40…), but we each had a massive scone with clotted cream (which sounds gross but is seriously delicious) and jam and I, of course, had tea. So, really, it was a good deal because they gave me an entire teapot, so I really got THREE cups of tea out of it. And it was delicious. So that justifies it, right? (Again, sorry, Mom!) Next time we’ll go somewhere cheaper, but it was SO nice to sit and have a nice long chat without worrying about how much reading I need to do or the fact that I should proofread my paper again (like right now). She’s such a dear girl and I’m so glad to have people in the house who I feel comfortable with after such a short amount of time. For an introvert like me, it’s nice to find other people who are like that but still need people. I didn’t take any pictures of our awesome scones and my tea, but next time! (That way who ever reads this will know what clotted cream is–I’m hungry again just writing about it!) Luckily, I have a few more tea dates lined up, so I won’t have to wait too long, although we may have to split the scone next time or just find a cheaper place. After that, I should probably stick to tea dates at the house or I’ll end up eating Ramen for the rest of term. I hope my food group doesn’t mind.

Wow, so I hope that satisfies everyone’s curiosity about what I’m doing on this side of the pond: reading lots of books and drinking lots of tea, which I’m about to do again (read, that is, I don’t think I should have any more tea today). It’s amazing how many words you can write when it’s not for a paper.

Cheers! (Here’s my attempt at being British.)

Katina 🙂

Studying at Oxford

My first week of term at Oxford has come and gone, and I can honestly say I’m glad it has. I’m not wishing my time here away, but it’s nice that I’ve finally been acquainted with the Oxford-style of learning: the tutorial. For those of you who don’t know, Oxford students have primary (weekly) and secondary (bi-weekly) tutors (these are scholarly experts in a certain subject), and prior to the meeting, students will prepare a 2,500 word paper on a certain “question.” At the meeting, the student discusses the question (and their opinion) with the tutor for an hour. Sounds easy, right?

Not so much.

In order to prepare for this 2,500 word (or sometimes less–probably less) paper and later discussion, in-depth research must be conducted for the paper so you become an “expert” yourself (although I will not attempt to describe myself as an expert on either of my tutorial subjects). This requires extensive use of Oxford’s libraries and many, many hours of combing through books and attempting to understand what some guy thought about your subject over two hundred years ago. Hopefully the book is in English. Or that you can read the language it was written in (not that I can). I actually sat in the library staring at a page for a few minutes because my brain couldn’t realize the text was in French. It was the low point of the day.

Then, after finally writing the said paper, to the tutorial you must go. At this point, I’ve only had one of my primary tutorials, but it wasn’t the greatest. First, I had no idea what to expect, which inevitably led me to feel that I had no idea what I was doing. It was frustrating. Plus, I’m not that skilled at discussing anything for an hour (unless it’s Downton Abbey or Harry Potter), so that was rather awkward.

Hopefully everyone I’ve talked to about it is right when they say it can only get better. I’ll just keep repeating that to myself.

Anyway, since it’s Saturday, I hoping to be able to do something fun out and about today. Although that may prove to be a challenge since it snowed all day yesterday and it’s quite cold out again–especially since everywhere we want to go must be taken by foot, bike, or bus (although I hate spending money when it’s unnecessary). My roommates and I were hoping to find C.S. Lewis’ house (it’s about 2 miles away) and perhaps get a lemonade at the spot where Lewis and Tolkien met for The Inklings at the Eagle and Child, but we’ll see if the weather is cooperative. Either that, or we’ll go get the ingredients to make cookies. Whatever we can do to stay warm.

Oxford in the snow.

Plus, there’s always a paper to write.

Katina

Settling in a whirlwind

It’s been a little over a week since I arrived at Oxford and it’s been quite an adventure. Apparently there are only thirteen more weeks to go, which is CRAZY to think about. So much has happened in this past week that it’s difficult to know where to begin, but I guess I’ll just dive in.

At the beginning of the week those of us who are new students were oriented to what our new life at Oxford would be like. For the first three days, we went to meetings where we learned about our academic load: the tutorials, seminars, and lectures we will go to along with the actual work required. This means papers. Lots of papers. Luckily, the English have a very nice method of breaking up the day with tea. Tea in the afternoon is especially nice, as there is generally food–scones, clotted cream, cakes. Oh, I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Along with orientation to the actual workload, we took a tour around Oxford (although there was still so much to see) as well as learning about the various libraries offered by the university–there are over ONE HUNDRED! This is definitely the place for people who like books.

There is so much to do around Oxford, it’s kind of ridiculous. Along with our coursework, there are so many extra things to do–clubs to join, places to visit, mischief to get into. There won’t be enough time to do everything I’d like to do!

One of the things on my bucket list that I did this weekend was go to London. We left at about 9 a.m. on Saturday, catching the Oxford Tube (it’s a bus line) into the city, where we arrived around 11 or so at Marble Arch. First, we walked for about an hour and a half, seeing such sites as Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, and finally arrived in Trafalgar Square with its famous statue of Lord Nelson. Apparently some of the metal used around the base and for other parts of the statue is from melted down cannons from the Napoleonic Wars…

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Behind Trafalgar Square, is the National Gallery, where we were allowed to meander for about an hour (or defrost) and eat before setting out again. We went on the London Underground, taking the line to the Monument, where we climbed to the top of 311 steps (on a tiny staircase that made me a little bit dizzy) and saw some spectacular views of the city. After making our way back down, we headed for the Tower of London, where a lot of people were imprisoned and *ahem* executed.

After more walking and seeing a lot of things that I can’t remember what they were called, we arrived at St. Paul’s cathedral, where we went to the Evensong service. It was very nice to finally be inside and actually sitting down for a rest. By the time we’d arrived at St. Paul’s, we’d walked over 11 kilometers–about SIX MILES! We also saw Millennium Bridge, which the Death Eaters collapsed in the sixth Harry Potter movie (for no apparent reason). Okay, so not really.

After Evensong, we headed to the West End, where we found some food (fish and chips!) and relaxed for a little bit more before heading back to the Underground to the bus stop at around 8:30. We got back to Oxford at quarter to ten and were finally able to get defrosted from our outing in the 30 degree weather. (Plus, it had started to drizzle near the end…Oh, England.)

If this entry is rather haphazard and doesn’t make sense, it’s because everything happened so fast yesterday and I really can’t remember all the names of the places we visited. I could look them up, but I should probably get back to writing my tutorial essay that’s due on Tuesday since I have a lecture to go to tomorrow evening and another essay to write up over that for Tuesday.

Huzzah for the start of term.

Katina

The first few days

I’m finally here in England…yay! All in all, the plane trip was not as frightening as I was expecting. Once I got through security, I felt perfectly calm. There’s something about people looking straight through your belongings that is rather nerve-racking. After a three hour layover in New Jersey, I arrived in London at approximately 7:25am (although it really felt like 2 to me) after not sleeping a wink on the plane and feeling slightly uncomfortable because the guy beside me seemed to forget that his companion was on the other side. It’s a little awkward to open your eyes and have someone you do know facing you, let alone someone you’ve never met.

After getting through border control (which was not very scary either), I had to find the bus terminal, which took a while since I had no idea how to transport myself from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1 and there seemed to be no clear path. Luckily, another student from the program recognized me and we found the buses together (after about fifteen more minutes of walking and riding on the transport train).

The bus ride to Oxford was rather surreal and the countryside seemed very similar to the US except the houses were a lot older (and MUCH prettier), and there were a lot of sheep milling about on large expanses of very green grass. Riding on the left side of the road was  weird, but it wasn’t too noticeable since we drove mostly on the highway and I was very jet lagged since I’d been up for about 18 hours.

We drove into Oxford after about an hour on the road and my stop was the second. At first, I didn’t realize the driver had said my stop because I was dazed and didn’t understand the first word he said, but I saw the sign “Pullens Lane” in the distance, so I knew I had to get off the bus right away or I would be transported somewhere else and my luggage would still be on the sidewalk where the bus driver had unloaded it.

Once I had rounded up my two rolling suitcases, I set across the road to Pullens Lane in search of my new home. Walking, the Vines is situated about five minutes from the main road, on the left side of the lane. And fortunately there was a nice sign with the name of the house on it, so I wasn’t lost and confused for very long.

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The house is old and very English–with tiny sinks in the bathroom and separate taps for hot and cold water which makes for rather awkward face washing and lots of water on the floor–at least when someone as uncoordinated as I am is using it.

I managed to wake myself from an hour nap around 1:30 after unpacking and meeting the first of my three roommates. They’re all really nice, as is everyone in the house, and I’m excited to spend more time with them and get to know them better as we maneuver our way through the upcoming semester.

At three in the afternoon yesterday, I went with a group down to the Oxford city center to look at the shops and we stopped in at Tesco, a supermarket with most things that you want (WAY smaller than Wal-Mart or Target). I bought a few things, although not nearly everything I’ll need for the upcoming weeks and the rest of the semester (like food).

I’m sure there’s much more that I could say, but jet lag is still upon me and I should probably do some reading for my primary tutorial on the French Revolution. The first week of term starts the Monday after next, with more orientation this week to prepare us for our first tutorial–the paper is due next week!

Being here is so strange and I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet that I am in ENGLAND. Woah. England. I’m really looking forward to these next few months even though I know they will be stressful and probably the hardest academic endeavor I have ever taken on. And the most exciting, I think!

Thank you for all your support and continued prayers and thanks for reading my rather long-winded post! There’s so much more I want to share, although most of it will probably have to wait until I am once again in the good old US of A.

Shout-out: I love you, Mom!

Katina 🙂