Dolla Dolla Bill, Y’all

I’m trying to set myself up for a Cinderella moment – my beautiful year-long ball where I will dance with opportunities I can only dream of.

What's the catch

Will the clock strike midnight?

At the stroke of 12 the spell will be broken

You bet your sweet ass it will, and then the fairy godmother will be back for repayment with interest because shit ain’t free.

Counting money

In fact, school is rather expensive.

It's very expensive...

Just one limb for every academic year

Add on the debt I’ve already racked up in undergrad as well as all living expenses I’ll have over there – apartment, food, and new shoes (because a sheep will inevitably eat one) – because I have a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting a job there or even having the time outside of school to work.

Did I hear that correct

And add as much extra money as I can reasonably loan because I’m a “just in case” kind of person. Also because once I return from this adventure, I will have sold my car, moved out of my apartment, and quit my job. I’ll be returning to nothing.

Throw up a little

But hey, at least I’ll have my Cinderella moment. For one year, I’ll live the relative high life.

Gatsby toast

I’ll travel…


Maybe I’ll find out what it means to be cultured…

Money fan

And I’ll have a great story to tell people when I come back.

Good news, guys, I spent all my money

Which is good, because after this, I’ll need those stories to entertain my future homeless brethren.

I declare bankrupcy

In doing this one year of graduate school, I am undoubtedly signing myself up for a lifetime of indentured servitude to student loans.

Ariel signing contract

All the same, thank you federal loan system for graciously accepting my offer of servitude in exchange for money.

Thanks, Satan

Here’s hoping I can seduce someone with my charming awkwardness.

My only job is to marry someone with money

Adjust boobs

Otherwise, well, I got nothin’.

Pay my bills, cut the cord

I’m not expecting a better paying job just because I’ll have a Master’s degree. I honestly haven’t seen that financially benefit anyone else around my age, so I’m only going to safely assume I can get the same part-time hourly positions I’ve had to pay off a crippling amount of debt.

Damn this is some scurry shit

There IS a small little voice in me reminding me that I’m living on Monopoly money and that someday the bubble will burst.

Wait, I totally forgot, this is real life

For the meantime, though, I’m comfortably enjoying denial.

I'm currently in deep denial


Well, more like blatantly ignoring it.

I can't hear you

I can't hear you, I'm going through a tunnel

I'm a fan of ignoring a problem until it goes away

My parents’ reactions when I gave them the total sum for my Cinderella moment is something I’ll never forget.

Eye popping

Start panicking

But it will all be worth it, right?

You're going to suffer, but you're gonna be happy about it

Laugh to cry


An Ode to Xanax

So, with two months left of college and roughly 3-4 months until graduate applications were due, I knew two things: 1) I wanted to go to school abroad, and 2) I wanted to study history.

Let's get started

The friend of mine who studied in Ireland has a brother, and he happens to be in Germany studying for his own Master’s. Before he left, he advised me to go to Germany because school is cheap.

German giddy

Unfortunately, halfway through my fourth German class, I was forced to admit that there was no way in Hell I was going to be fluent enough to apply. Plus, the topic of interest that I would have pursued there was soundly shut down by one of my professors as being unoriginal and done to death. Well, goodbye to Deutschland.

German slap

I switched topics and focused on English-speaking countries instead. Hello, Britain!

Where might I find Platform 9 34

The first problem I encountered in applying was the waiting.


Everything takes FOREVER.

So it's to be torture

First, I had to get a passport. 2 months. Then, I had to wait for my transcripts. 1 month. My professors took their good sweet time on their letters of recommendations (no complaints, though, they’re absolutely beautiful). 2 more months. Fortunately, a lot of this time overlapped, but still.

I hate fucking waiting


Weeks would go by without anything for me to do. Just sit by the phone or computer and wait. Anxiously wait.

I don't sleep, I wait

The next eight months continued in the same way, rushing to complete a giant pile of paperwork and bureaucratic bullshit and then waiting the weeks or months until the next step in the process.

It's like my life is buffering

Loading new exciting life

The problem with all that extra time is that it gives me too many opportunities to second-guess and criticize everything.


All that I’m doing is so different from the safety zone I’m used to, so every second it takes to hear back from the professor, agency, or school causes every one of my insecurities to scream out at me.

I'm having a nervous break down

I give myself pep talks everyday, and I even have a playlist of corny, but effective, confidence-building songs.

Do it. Fierce. Power.

The one upside is that once it leaks out that you’re hoping to go to school overseas – well, if you live in a pretty stay-put, go-nowhere community like me – you start getting a lot of attention. My brother was always the center of all things new and different and the one who we all predicted would travel, so it came as a surprise when I came out of the interesting person closet.

People are paying attention to me

Of course, since I’m not used to that kind of attention, it came with its own bucket of stressors.

I must be psychotic to think I'm worthy of this attention

But I’ll get over it.

I'm so uncomfortable

School Might Not Be Out For As Long As Alice Cooper Thought

There are a lot of people I make fun of. Among them are eternal students: the kids who love education so much and fear the real world to such an extent that they never leave school.

I don't want to grow up

In a cliche Hollywood twist, however, I have discovered that I, too, am an eternal student (or at least have the potential to be one). It’s not because I fear the real world, though. In fact, it’s because I’ve been so obsessed with the “real world” that I’m rebelling against it.

Fuck the police

See, I’ve always loved school. I love to learn. If I didn’t have any other responsibilities, I would take classes forever.

Learning is my whole life

I refused to admit it, though, because as I’ve mentioned before, I am practical and make good decisions.

Make good choices

I thought following dreams that didn’t involve a stable paycheck and a 401K were a foolish waste of time. Being happy and passionate is for naive idiots, after all.

You guys are too young to be this cynical

But then I woke up.

Everyone has two lives

I realized that safe was essentially the same as boring.

You're telling me to be bored for the rest of my life

And so I found myself sitting at the beginning of my last semester of college at 22-years-old, learning that I’d deluded myself into thinking my life would be “successful” because I didn’t fall into any of those pesky traps called dreams that make people crazy and give them purpose and excitement.

Tell me, princess, when did you last let your heart decide

So what had I done instead? Worked countless, exhausting jobs? Sacrificed a social life? Turned down amazing study abroad trips?

I've done nothing with my life

I could see my life ahead of me as clearly as if I’d already lived it. Five, ten, twenty years down the road (it doesn’t matter when), I would be working painfully predictable days making just enough to get by but never enough to go anywhere or do anything more than camping or a trip to the state capital.

Always the same narrow people, mindless chatter

After wallowing in self-pity over a pint of Ben&Jerry’s, I snapped myself out of it and decided I was going to find a way out the boring mess I’d gotten myself into.

Snap out of it, Buzz

I never look back, darling, it distracts from the now

I hated the future I saw before me, and I knew that if I didn’t do something drastic – something crazy – soon, I might never do something drastic again.

If you had the chance to change your fate...

...Would you

So I asked myself what I wanted. The answer was simple and immediate:

Bitches gots to learn

But I only had a few months of college left.


That’s when a seed a friend of mine planted a couple years earlier took root. This friend had recently returned from Ireland after spending a year there getting a Master’s degree. I saw her excitement from application to arrival back in the States. It had looked like a fairy tale to me, but suddenly, from my new perspective, it looked obtainable.

I have a dream

I knew I wanted to continue studying history (European history), so why not go to Europe? It saves me a trip to archives that I would have to make regardless. Plus, I get to live abroad for a year.

I want to go to there

I haven’t been outside of the country (or much of anywhere) since my family adopted my brother from Russia when I was 6. So this is a big deal for me.

I wanna be where the people are

For the first time, graduation didn’t look like a terrifying black hole of doom where fun goes to die. Instead, it started to look like a bright, daring, swashbuckling world of adventure where no one (not even myself) could tell me that going to graduate school abroad was a bad idea.

Don't tell me what I can't do

…even though I had no previous plan, savings, or preparation of any kind.


Explaining my new idea to my parents was fun.

Do I really look like a guy with a plan

But fortunately, they’re very supportive.

Believe in your dreams

So now, I face the future with new hope.

A new hope

I remind myself along the way why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Life is about the memories and experiences

When I tell people about it, I hope it comes out elegant and sophisticated.


But I know myself too well.

I seriously cannot emphasize how little we thought about this