"A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation." - Jonathan Swift, "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Arrivals II

This is my second arrivals post, since I have now landed in the place I'll be living and studying for the next year. So although I went through passport control and walked past the "Nothing to Declare" sign at the airport about 2 months ago, I still feel like I'm embarking on the adventure. I'm starting to settle, but I haven't quite stopped ruffling my feathers in attempts to get more cozy in my new nest.

When I arrived at school, I was overwhelmed by new people and places and the sense that I had landed in a much bigger pond than I was for my undergraduate degree. Actually, I still feel that way a little. But there have been bright spots during the last week or so that promise a future sense of warmth and familiarity that will gradually replace the homesickness and confusion.

First, when I showed up at registration with my important documents in hand, the first thing they did was offer me a free novel. Could there have been any better sign that I've come to the right place to study literature?

Then there was the nice bookshop owner who special ordered in a copy of a book I have to read by Monday and recognized me when I came in the following day to pick it up. There was the relief at finding that my share-house actually does have both washer and dryer and I won't have to struggle to get my clothes to dry in the cold English winter. The wonderful Italian deli with free samples and delicious panini; the discovery of a nature reserve right next to my house; the news that Ian McEwan is coming here to talk about his latest book, and subsequent pleasure of tearing through said book over the weekend, letting everything strange and confusing melt away for a few hours every day as I leaped back into the story to pursue that most basic of goals: to find out what happens next.

I guess (not to be existential or anything) that that kind of sums up my life right now. I'm not really sure what to expect from this new city, new school, new community, so I'm just waiting to see what happens next, what strange encounter or new discovery I stumble upon each day, and how each little thing affects the way I see this place and anticipate the coming year of study.

So, here I am. Stay tuned for more travel observations and - judging from my reading lists - lots and lots and lots of book reviews.

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