Updates | 02

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Admittedly, I’ve been rather absent on this blog for a while, and that’s because the last few weeks have been an emotional free-for-all. This year has been an incredibly stressful one in terms of figuring out what I want my future to look like and the steps I need to take to make it so. And what I decided in all of my soul searching was that following the completion of my undergraduate degree, I wanted to get my master’s. So last summer, I began the process of researching programs, compiling letters of recommendation, editing my writing sample, and studying like a maniac for the GRE. When fall rolled around, I was doing all of that plus my schoolwork for my final semester, my duties as the editor of a literary journal and president of the English honor society, my work as a research assistant to one of my professors, and trying to make the most of the time I had left with my college friends before I moved back home. And I was stressed. I am someone who experiences stress both emotionally and physically. It caused my lymph nodes to swell, my shoulders and neck to develop severe tension knots, and my anxiety to spiral. But I got my applications submitted and graduated shortly thereafter, leaving me with a few months to decompress.

Fast-forward to March when grad school admissions decisions were being sent out. Because I am someone who wants to build my career on academics, I only applied to top tier programs. In other words, I had no safety school. But my GPA, test scores, and recommenders were really good, so while I was hopeful about my applications, I wasn’t too worried about them. And then the rejections started coming in, and I was crushed. One of the things I value most in myself is my intelligence, and rejection in an academic sphere felt like a rejection of what I saw as my most vital self. I was accepted to some programs but not given as much funding as I would have liked, and in my already discouraged state of mind, I counted those acceptances as nothing but softer rejections.

I applied to five schools, and by the first week in March, I had heard back from four of them – two acceptances and two rejections. The only school I had yet to hear from was my top choice and the most prestigious program I applied to. I thought that being rejected from the lowest-ranked program I applied to meant there was no way I’d be accepted to my highest-ranked program. But y’all, I was. I received the email right as got to my desk one morning and immediately burst into tears and called my mom and cried some more.

So I’m excited to officially announce that in the fall, I’ll be moving to England to pursue a master’s degree in English literature from Oxford University! If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you may remember that I studied abroad at Oxford one summer and that I fell in love with it. I’m so excited to be returning and that all of my stress about my future and self-doubt over my abilities have subsided for the time being.

The point of this post – other than to keep you updated on my goings on – is that I’m an emotional gal. And that has meant that for the past month or so, I’ve been preoccupied with feeling all of my feelings and that blogging has not been something I’ve had the desire to do. But I’m slowly coming out of the funk, so expect to see some more posts from me soon. And within a few months, I’ll be coming to you from a new location!

– Lauren

To My Third Apartment

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To my third apartment:

From the unreliable air conditioning unit and perpetual mold problem of the first and the strange and uninvited visitors of the second, I really really hope I’ve found my match. Third apartment, you’re no luxury resort, but you’re charming in your own way. Sure, you get a little sketchy when the sun goes down, and there was a gigantic mystery stain on the carpet when I moved in, but I can look past that. You’ve tested me. You’ve showed me what I can live with, and what I can live without. Like a bed. A mattress on the floor, covered in my favorite quilt and lots of pillows, will do just fine. I like that it makes me feel like a bohemian, as weird as that sounds. There isn’t much room for furniture, and in that respect you’ve taught me the art of space-saving. Vintage tables and salvaged wooden crates are good bedside tables, and large woven baskets that can slide under my desk hold all my miscellaneous items. Wall hooks for jackets and cardigans and bags are essential. Thanks to you, I know that if there is a space-saving contraption that can hang over a door, I need it and to never ever say no to a full-length mirror. Practicality aside, you’ve taught me the things I need most to make you feel like my home are few. Pictures of family, tiny plants that I’ll probably kill, lots and lots of books, and a friend or two. And luckily, those things are the easiest to come by.

I wrote this post in collaboration with Parachute and their Dorm Room Essentials series. The bedroom items I’ve included in the post are those that I consider to be my college dorm/apartment essentials. I hope you enjoy!

-Lauren

Hat In Hand

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A few weeks ago, as I was tumbling down the rabbit hole that is Instagram, I stumbled upon a picture of this wall and fell in love with it.  I don’t live very far from Birmingham, so I forced two of my friends to drive up there with me one weekend and make a day trip out of it to take some photos, do some shopping, and eat some cheesecake.

Lately, I’ve been really into exploring the places I’ve been visiting for years and getting to know the city’s historical, less commercial side.  But of course, we couldn’t pass up shopping altogether.  We’re all going on international trips this summer.  Between the three of us, we’ll visit England, France, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland by the beginning of August.  So in anticipation of the mild European weather (hooray for escaping the Alabama summer heat!), we took to the racks.

IMG_4975 I used this opportunity to take my new favorite hat out for a spin.  Since I’ve been saving up for my study broad trip this summer, I’ve been budgeting my money very strictly over the past few months, allowing myself to buy only groceries and gas.  However, as a reward for making it through an interview, I decided to treat myself to a hat that I had been eyeing at Target for a few weeks.  I’m a hat person, for sure, and I definitely plan on incorporating them into my wardrobe more.

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10 Random Facts About Me

  1. Ever since I was young, my parents have always encouraged my brothers and me to read, and because of their influence, you’ll be hard pressed to find me without a book in hand. I’m studying English Literature, Creative Writing, and Liberal Arts at my university, so I’m constantly reading. Usually, when people ask me what my favorite book is, I struggle to come up with an answer. I can give you my top five or top ten at any given time, but settling on one is always difficult. However, over the past year, I’ve discovered some great books that have become favorites, and for the first time in a long time, I have a definite favorite book: The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma.
  2. I have a circulatory disease called Raynaud’s disease that causes by hands and feet go numb and turn white or blue when I’m cold. It gave me trouble when I was in high school and spent a lot of time outside playing sports, but it doesn’t bother me that much nowadays except when I walk to class in the winter.
  3. I have a slightly ridiculous obsession with Harry Potter.
  4. One of my goals in life is to learn how to play the mandolin.
  5. I love to travel, but sadly, I haven’t been able to do so very much due to exorbitant costs of overseas travel. I’ve lived in the same state my whole life, and aside from various places within the United States, I’ve been to Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Slovakia, and Hungary. However, once I finish my bachelor’s degree, I’m hoping to get my master’s degree in England and travel more.
  6. I love cats.
  7. When I finish getting my master’s degree, I want to work as an editor for a publishing company, write a novel (or several), and open an independent bookstore in a cute, coastal town.
  8. My favorite type of weather is rain.
  9. I was the valedictorian of my high school.
  10. Every year, I challenge myself to learn or do something new, because I think it’s important for me to do all the things I want to do and never stop learning. One year, I taught myself to play the guitar. Another year, I learned how to knit. And another year, I started this blog.