It is hard to describe what the process of switching from the UK to the USA feels like. It feels like an awful lot of things in quick succession. There were flashing undercurrents of sadness, not really directed at anything specific. There was high volumes of stress – I was reliant on public transport to get me and my essential luggage between house, airport and hostel. There was excitement and relief to have left my drudgery in Edinburgh behind to finally move on with my life. There was apprehension, because I could not know with absolute certainty what lay ahead of me until I reached that point.
Despite the complicated manoeuvrings across Edinburgh, London and NYC – the act of travelling went without a bother. I had my last day at work, packed up and vacated my flat, took an overnight bus to London, took the tube to Heathrow, flew to JFK Airport with a stop-over in Iceland, took the AirTrain, Tube then walked to my hostel.
It didn’t feel like it, but I was comfortably underweight with my two items of hold luggage (I’ve paid over £100 in overweight fees before because I was too shattered from carrying the damn things across town to re-pack them or throw anything else out). Walking across an unknown neighbourhood in Queens to reach my hostel wasn’t the smartest decision in hindsight for a number of reasons…but my printed Google Map got me there directly without trouble.
The secret to surviving international travel intact is to drink as much water as possible (going easy on the caffeine) to stay rehydrated, and to eat:
I didn’t give myself long to sleep off the jetlag: the next morning I was up early to reach my new university and crack on with a bit of research before term-time started.
Getting settled in is proving to be hard work. There’s all the bureaucracy, start-up tasks, killing of time until Task X, Y and Z are completed (although Z cannot be completed until X is done, and Y cannot be started until X and Z are completed, etc). There is more stress and panic, more apprehension, some long-held fears are completely quashed…only to have new ones leap up from odd directions. At the moment the steps ahead look insurmountable. Will the craziness ever abate? Is this the best use of my time? Am I going about things the wrong way?
I’ve left in the evenings shattered and tense, but generally OK. I’m hoping that in the next few days everything will calm down…or that I will calm down. Whichever is more probable.