The countdown begins, not that I haven’t already been counting the days before I leave the United Kingdom. It seems that for almost two months, I had been trying “to prepare,” however that far back it is hard to get anything set in stone. I was still getting documents ready for my visas and getting passport-sized photos, then approval from the university’s ethics committee for the research, then approval from the department for funding, then having to re-book my flights because the airline canceled them, etc…. Now today I had everything together for my visa for my second country and they decided to take the week off before Christmas. So now, I’m trying to see if I can apply at an embassy in America when I return or while abroad in West Africa.
So we will see how that pans out. Embassies are notoriously difficult to get a hold of, which is frustrating when they want you to email them for an appointment. Thus, shouldn’t I get a reply email confirming my appointment or even answering a general question if I am just getting stuff ready and just want to know what to bring in advance?
Other than my general frustrations and woes with government bureaucracies, how are all of you doing?
Not that I’m expecting an immediate response, but I know with the upcoming holidays everyone is just going through something during the happiest time of the year, right? Ironically, since this is my first Christmas away from my family and I am not planning to cook a gigantic meal, nor does London seem to get into the “spirit” as much as New Yorkers, I feel toned down this year. It could be because I have my head in the books and am more worried about theoretical frameworks (still no idea what that is), rather than thinking about people (that I know). However, being single and hardly knowing anyone here has really just made me able to focus on myself this past month and “getting things crossed off”. It is selfish, but being away from home can have its perks. Unfortunately, London is completely shut down this weekend, which feels very unusual. At least NYC had Sunday/holiday service on the subway and buses.
Taking care of self during this time of year is just as important as looking out for the ones you love. You can easily get wrapped up in other people’s issues and burn yourself out. So here are somethings that I think helped me get through these last few weeks.
1. Start as early as possible. I know it is hard to think about end-of-year things in October, especially when anything can happen between now and then. However, you will save yourself a lot of time getting those “little things” done that may seem only take a minute or two. For example, I knew that I was moving out after holidays and I had to get a key replaced, order some last minute things off of Amazon, and get boxes from my job. Well, had I waited until this week to do that, there’s no way that stuff from Amazon would have made it before I left, nor would I have been able to carry some free boxes for packing from work all at one time. I also did have my key made as it gave me opportunity to shop around for a lower price. Things that I have no time for this week, now that this visa emergency has popped up.
2. Book a spa day. At the end of all the holiday parties and dinners or perhaps right before, you are going to need a couple hours to yourself to get the kinks out. If the spa is not your thing, then get your hair washed or another activity where someone is doing something for you. We all love our family and friends but sometimes having someone do something that makes you feel loved can coax you back from the brink of insanity.
3. Give up your expectations. Whoa, whoa…now put down the bottle. Expectations are different than your inhibitions – still keep those. So what I mean is that there is no perfect or fantasy Christmas. Yes, maybe we have an idea to specifically go somewhere or do something, however do not give your hopes up for the “perfect experience.” As I opened above, you can see that unexpected shit happens (like government offices closing a week early so they can have their perfect Christmas, which messes up my perfect Christmas). So flexibility, patience, and open-mindedness is key – remember what is a priority for you to get done may not be someone else’s priority. I’ve worked in customer service and although we are supposed to empathize with clients, it’s hard to feel for someone when they are blowing up in your face.
So this is just from my experience, but I hope that you find them useful! If you have any other ideas about de-stressing through the holidays, please share them with me!