“Say hello to your future. I’m just pleased to meet you. You were a million miles away. Say hello to your lion’s heart. Queen Victoria’s England will never ever be the same.” -Darren Hayes, “The Future Holds a Lion’s Heart”
I’ve taken several big leaps of faith since I became an adult. Moving to Chicago without a job and renting an apartment I hadn’t seen in person, moving back to North Carolina temporarily without being sure I’d get a job in South Korea, and moving to a country I’d never visited and where I didn’t speak the language. All of those risks paid off, and nearly a year ago, I wrote about making another major life change. I decided to leave Korea and apply for postgrad. In case that wasn’t risky enough, I also decided to only apply to universities in the UK.
When I started teaching in Korea, I’d thought that I didn’t want to go back to social work. I didn’t want to continue in the area of the field I had been stuck in for several years. Several experiences/jobs in Chicago (particularly with a certain terrible boss/bully) burnt me out on social work, and I lost a lot of confidence. When I worked for a great company before I left for Korea and after I came back, I saw that they weren’t all as bad as the ones I’d worked for in Chicago. I regained a lot of confidence and courage, thanks to that company and my experiences in Korea. I finally felt ready to apply for postgrad in the UK. I knew I was taking another chance by leaving Korea and only applying to universities in the UK without knowing if I’d get accepted anywhere, but I’d had this dream of moving to the UK for many years and needed to finally make it happen. The time was perfect, and I was finally in the right mindset and place in my life to do it.
With a new long-term goal, I applied at several universities in England. The process for Social Work students was different than for other fields, and being an international student only made it more complicated. To receive an unconditional offer, they required interviews, group tests, essays, background checks for the UK and every country I’d lived in for the last five years, medical clearances, and all the annoying things that should be required for social workers. As an international student, I was exempt from some things (like group tests) at some universities, but I still had to do Skype interviews and essays. It was quite a stressful, expensive process, but I knew it’d be worth it if it worked out.
True to my long history of having everything (Chicago, Korea, etc.) come together at the very last minute, I’m thrilled to report that it did work out. After months of back and forth with my chosen university, I can finally, officially announce that I’ll be attending the University of York. I chose York because it has a great reputation as both a city and university. It looks absolutely gorgeous and is supposed to be one of the top universities in the UK/world. York’s only two hours from both London and Edinburgh by train and is close to other big cities. Since I’ve been on my own as an adult, I’ve always lived far away from family, so it’ll be nice to be close to my brother and sister-in-law for a bit. York is also one of the safest cities in the UK, though I think I’d feel safer anywhere in the UK than the US. (I was definitely spoilt by the safety in Korea!)
While it’s been challenging from the beginning, going back to school presents new challenges and experiences I’ve never had before. At the ripe old age of 31, I’ll be living on campus for the first time, though I’ll have my own room and en suite. I’ve only ever lived on my own or with family, never with roommates. I’m anxious, but I’ve never had the true university experience, so I’m looking forward to finally living it.
Overall, though, I’m very excited for my next adventure and seeing what happens and what changes over the next few years. It’s surreal that this dream I’ve had for so long is coming true. It still hasn’t hit me that I’ll be living there for at least two years, and I imagine it won’t until I’m there in a few weeks. I’m going with an open mind, as I always do, and planning to learn more about social work, the UK, and of course, myself. Maybe I’ll even finally find my home and settle down there. Whatever happens, I’m ready to say “hello” to my future and my lion’s heart…