I was fine until I started thinking.

This is a phrase that could sum up my life. I’m fine until I overthink things, turning them over and over in my mind like chewing a piece of gum so long that it disintegrates disgustingly in my mouth (happened to me once… traumatizing, really.)

I was sitting in front of the computer, looking up flights. “Do I want to leave from Ottawa or Montreal?” I asked myself, scrolling through the flight options. I tried to imagine. Sitting in the backseat of the car, two hours to Montreal, the comforting familiarity of Dorval Airport. Or driving the 20 minutes down streets I drive everyday to the Ottawa International Airport. I’ve flown through Montreal everytime I’ve gone to Europe, what would it be like to fly from Ottawa? Surely more convenient?

And then I started thinking.

I started picturing the drive, picturing the departure gate and saying goodbye to my parents. And then I thought, “Oh God. I’m going to leave the country in two months.”


And not just that. I’m leaving for an indefinite amount of time. When I went to Ireland I knew I was coming back in four months. I had a return ticket, I had a job and another two years of university awaiting me here.

The last few months since I found out I had been accepted to grad school, I’ve been living in the present with a very vague idea of some interesting future. First, I was thrilled. Blinded by the newness and excitement of it all, caught up in just saying the words out loud “I’m going to grad school. In England.” Then I was too busy making sure it really could happen, trying to graduate and get the money I needed to go. But none of it was real.

And Tuesday it hit me like a ton of bricks. I started freaking out.

I have no place to live, I don’t know a single person in Newcastle and everyone I love is going to be on the other side of an ocean.


I am excited. Beyond excited. But I’m also half terrified. There’s nothing for me here, no reason for me to stay. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to step outside of this comfort zone - the city I’ve lived my whole life, where I know directions and people and have favourite places. Where I went to school, where I worked, where all of my connections are.

There are so many questions running around in my head. What’s Newcastle like? Will I like my program? Will I be good at my program? How am I going to find a job when it’s over? What am I going to do? Did I make the right choice?

I wish I had a switch to turn off my brain right now, so I would stop overthinking this and let myself enjoy it for what it is - an adventure.


“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the road less travelled by and that has made all the difference.” - Robert Frost


  • By Faebala, July 3, 2009 @ 10:29 am

    Just breathe, babe. It’s not a permanent decision. You’re going to a new school, you’re leaving the country, but it’s nothing that can’t be reversed if you find out its not what you expected. Everyone who loves you will still be here, will be ready to hear about your adventures and ready to welcome you back when you return - however far in the future that may be.

    You’re not leaving your life, you’re just giving it a new turn. You’re a strong person and I know you’ll be fine once you get there. You’ll be at home in no time. And besides, I’m always with you - in the form of a laptop. hehe.

  • By Sebastian, July 3, 2009 @ 11:03 am

    Ah, one of my favourite quotes! Where’d you rummage that one up from? :)

    I hope I can squeeze out a phrase that gets recalled long after I’m dead.

    You’ll be fine. The western world is incredibly cushty. What’s the worst that could happen in rainy ol’ England? :)

  • By Lisa, July 3, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

    You will love is normal to be nervous! :) Your whole future is ahead of you and, in some ways, you have NO IDEA what may happen after you start your MA program..but to be honest, that is the best part of it all.

    You will do amazing! :)

  • By Jes, July 4, 2009 @ 9:53 am

    Think of the school year like Ireland extended. Your adventure can have an expiry date if you want it to, and if not you can just keep adventuring. Just don’t think of everything at once, it’s too overwhelming. Break it down into manageable bits.

    We all know you’ll do brilliantly and your program is going to be AMAZING.

    And I need a Cannes buddy ;) :P

  • By Lea, July 4, 2009 @ 11:20 am

    Hey, my sister did it, and she’s doing all right. Seriously, having her be ten timezones away for most of the year, four years running now, has been incredibly difficult for us and for her friends. But there are vacations to look forward to, and school and work keep her busy and excited. There’s phone calls, and E-mail, and it makes family visits much more exciting.

    Maybe I’m just excited because in two months, you’ll be a five hour flight away, and by then I’ll have a metric fuckton of vacation time coming. and I’ve never been to Newcastle. But… it’s a bit too soon to plan. Even though I could get a nice hotel room and have you over to watch cable and empty the mini-bar.

  • By Gillian, July 4, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been thinking alot and freaking out too. Right now being terrified is taking over the being excited part but I’m hoping that will settle down soon. We’ll be okay!

    –> :D

    (am also sending you an email about it)

  • By The Chris, July 5, 2009 @ 11:10 am

    Hehe, I heard this in the car!! And also you got notice about your appartment in my appartment!! I know things will be great for you… no worries.

  • By Eleni, July 5, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

    I know–how freaky is it buying a one-way ticket?

    That “Will I be good at my program?” question is also in my mind. Maybe my application looked good enough to get me accepted, but that doesn’t mean I’ll actually do well in grad school. Hopefully everything will fall into place before long.

    That is a great quote, and one that has haunted me. I cannot go back to the road not taken, and I can’t help but wonder what I am missing.

  • By steph, July 6, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

    I love you Heather :) and not Everyone you love will be on the other side of the ocean… I’ll be there too :) and you’ll meet more new people to love, that’s the most exciting part! :) :) it’s funny because just before I read this post I was searching teaching assistant groups on facebook for France… and people were making comments on them like I made right before I went to Sweden. but what they are saying doesnt really apply to me anymore because ive already lived a year away in stockholm and this time for France I’m leaving indefinitely too, like you, its not just a temporary ‘cultural’ experience. You’ve sort of been through it before in Ireland but this time you’re REALLY going to be living abroad and its gonna change you so much you won’t even know how much it’s changed you… I don’t even think i’ve come to terms with how much Sweden changed me yet… its just i can’t even describe it all still to people here cause they haven’t been through anything similar… and I’m so excited for you for what you are going to experience :D its just Gahhhh its gonna be so EXCITING AND AMAZING AND WONDERFUL AND MINDBLOWING AND WOW WOWOWOWOWOWOOWOW OVER AND OVER AGAIN! I just GAH wish I could jump into your suitcase and experience it all with you!


    p.s. we REALLY need to chatty chat chat it up sometime soon and discuss these things

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