It feels a bit strange to be making this post when I feel I’ve done this so many times before.
Blogging is something I’ve tried. A lot. And failed. A lot.
My most prominent blogging failure might be the most classic of college traditions–the “abroad blog.” Three years ago, I was on my way to my junior year abroad, as a member of the 40th class of Kenyon College juniors to be spending a year at the University of Exeter, and I decided I would document my experiences in a blog called Merryold. I was nervous, and excited, and mostly just glad to have blessedly not made a mistake in my visa application. Looking back at those old posts, I smile a bit at the feeling I was attempting to capture, still bleary and jetlagged, still kind of stunned at the fact that I was in England.
While I swore I would keep up with my abroad blog, my updates started to peter out. I mostly just summarized the sites I saw and offered some half-baked advice for next year’s Exeter kids about packing light, unsure of what I could really contribute to a world already saturated with travel advice and pastel “expat life” Instagram posts.
England, like college itself, didn’t always feel like it was supposed to, and it was hard to really put that in a blog post, and especially on one named after an England that never really existed in the first place. No one really wanted to read posts about unexpected culture shock or what it was like to experience being a “foreigner” for the first time in my life, right? I deleted the blog after I came back, unsure of what good it would do otherwise. It’s not like stories about spontaneous wild swimming in the Lake District would change the world. But England wormed its way into my heart in the small, endearing moments that didn’t make it into blog posts. Cups of tea and country walks, Wagamama takeaways and Bake Off, kebab shops and singing “Angels” at the end of the night in the club. Kissing my boyfriend goodbye at the Exeter train platform and crying on the three-hour journey back to Heathrow.
I knew I wanted to go back to England, to see more and to learn more, and somehow, after dreaming of returning for years, I’ve made it happen.
In three weeks, I’ll be touching down in London to begin an MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. Tucked away in New Cross, a historic working-class neighborhood in Zone 2, it’s going to be a lot different than studying at Exeter. And a lot different from studying at Kenyon. With a year of the real world in my rearview and a different perspective on England–mainly that it’s not always “merryold,” and that’s what makes it such a special place–I’m eager to see where this journey takes me.
I think I’ll be more consistent with this blog if I don’t place so many expectations on it. Sometimes there might be anecdotes about my travel. Sometimes there might be musings about my grad school experience and writing my dissertation. Sometimes I might write about other topics that interest me, like art and galleries (duh), yoga, literature, plant-based food, and more. There might be some pictures, or playlists, or thoughts on what exactly it means to be an American abroad in the world today.
Thanks for coming along on this ride, wherever it may end up.