Home again, home again, jiggy jig

Acorns are hitting the roof, leaves are turning red and mornings are foggy and chilled. Yup, we’re sure not in St. Kitts anymore!

Meera didn’t travel well at all – the poor thing vomited all over the inside of her kennel and her blankets on the flight to Miami – but has been in good spirits since we took her out of the kennel in Nashville and seems to be adjusting relatively well. Her biggest problem is that she thinks she’s a person and doesn’t think she should have to be outside all day with the dogs, but that’s just something she’ll have to get used to. The shelties (my in-laws’ two dogs) have accepted her pretty well considering she’s a giant, barking heathen compared to their dainty ways. Rosie has started showing Meera where to patrol and what to smell throughout the day to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized intruders in the yard. Meera does not like the horses across the street or the goats in the next yard, but she loves fallen apples and barking at birds on the feeders. At least that’s something.

The Mister and I have been trying to organize what we need from our luggage and store away the things we won’t need for a while. I’m working on applying to a few different jobs and building up inventory for my hopefully-soon-to-exist online store, and the Mister is meeting with various contacts to talk about his potential employment options. Please continue to keep us in mind in the coming months while we’re looking for jobs and, after that, a more permanent housing solution. We are living with my in-laws for the time being but hope to be back out on our own in the not-too-distant future. (Although now that I’ve started cooking several nights a week I’m not sure my mother in law is going to let us leave. Haha!)

If you’d like to see videos of Meera’s antics in America, my youtube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz6lS8QUcNQ3TBrULF3e8OQ

And so the journey begins

Well it’s been a rollercoaster week for the Nut House. We left my parents’ house at 5:30 a.m. last Saturday, with me not having slept in 48 hours from nerves and stress. Our plane left Nashville at 8 and then our connection left Charlotte, NC, at 11 without any problems. We actually got to the island a bit earlier than planned, even though the flight was long and boring. We did end up sitting next to a very nice lady and her husband who were headed to the island on vacation, and got to talk to several other new Ross students while waiting in the immigration line. The airport here is just a tarmac and one room where you wait to go through customs.

From there our orientation leader (Caitlin, who is wonderful, by the way) took our orientation group to the grocery store to pick up some snacks and a few basic things for our new apartments. On the way there, Caitlin advised us to check the expiration dates on everything, open cereal boxes to check for bugs in the bags, and remember to divide by three to estimate the US dollar value of items. That was definitely a culture shock. We had been warned that shopping would be expensive, but when the sticker by the toilet paper says 32.75 for six rolls…. that was a shocker. Granted, that’s about 10 US dollars, which is better than 32 but still very expensive. (Prices are all listed in Eastern Caribbean dollars, which are about 2.6 to one US dollar.) Then our group went to dinner and saw some of the other groups out as well, which was very disheartening because everyone here drinks. A LOT. The Mister and I are not drinkers, so that has made for several uncomfortable meals since we’ve arrived.

Sunday we were not able to go to church services, since we don’t yet know how to find addresses here or how to navigate the public transportation. We hope to start attending somewhere in the next week or so once we can figure all that out. Instead, Sunday was IT day, where all the students got their electronic devices set up on the school wireless network. This was the first instance where I realized that my status as a VIP (a spouse, child or significant other) is very different from the Mister’s status as a student. I had been told I would be able to attend all the orientation sessions with him and move through the process as a couple. Well, that is not entirely true. The IT workers were not able to add my laptop to any of the wireless networks because I am not a student, and I had to beg them to add my iPad. Even then, I’m not allowed to have my own log in information; I have to use the Mister’s student information.

This has been true at all the orientation sessions I have attended. The school employees have, for the most part, been nice to me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am constantly hearing, “This is not for you,” “You can’t do that,” “You can’t use this building,” etc. I know there must be other VIPs here with students, but I have only met one in passing. He is a fiancé to a student and was running against many of the same walls. So at least it’s not just me.

I did have one unpleasant encounter though at the immigration table. All the students were able to process their student visa paperwork at “one stop” on Monday, and I had never been told I couldn’t process my paperwork there as well. (I will not have a student visa, but I do have to apply for a visitor’s extension.) I had all my paperwork filled out, signed and in the order listed in our welcome packet. I approached the table and let them know I am a VIP, and the woman asked for the paperwork from my packet when I arrived on the island. I gave her the forms I had filled out that morning, and she insisted that I did not have them all. However she would not tell me which form I was missing so I could look for it in my stack. Then she saw my other paperwork and started yelling that none of that was for me, I had done everything wrong and I hadn’t read any of the instructions. Which is not true, I followed the instructions backwards and forwards. So when I finally convinced her that I did have everything in order, she yelled at me to pick up my papers and stop cluttering her desk (I only had my one neat pile). Apparently VIPs can’t be processed until next week. She could have just told me that instead of making me feel and look stupid in front of a whole line of people.

Unfortunately this is the same woman who runs the VIP program. Needless to say, it was not a good first impression. Maybe she will make up for it at the meeting next Monday.

I have had fun on our two trips to various beaches this week, however. I am adjusting to the presence of sand on everything and have even managed to avoid much of a sunburn. Which for me is a small miracle in and of itself. Last night our group met the other groups on “The Strip,” which is a length of each where all the beach bars are, and played sand volleyball until the sun went down. I like volleyball, but I chose to walk along the beach and recharge my solitary batteries instead; but the Mister’s team won the orientation group tournament. We have gotten to know and like the members of our group pretty well, and we generally have fun together.

Right now I am in our apartment while the Mister is in some sort of leadership training seminar. I’ve been going to the orientation seminars for fear of missing some important piece of useful information, but so far nothing has applied to me. Hopefully this will improve next week when I’m able to meet other VIPs and start making friends who don’t talk about emergency surgery procedures all the time. It’s definitely a downer to be the only person at a table of eleven who doesn’t understand what the conversation is about.

Prayers for both of us are appreciated. The Mister starts classes on Monday and receives his white coat and takes the veterinary oath that night, a ceremony which will be broadcast live over the internet. Anyone who is interested can go to http://www.rossu.edu, select ross veterinary school across the top, click the academic events calendar on the left, and then look for “white coat ceremony” under Monday, May 6 from 4-6 eastern, 3-5 central time.

Confessions of a Future Vet School Wife

So last Thursday was a pretty typical day, until the phone call came.

“Honey? Guess what?”

“What?”

“I just got a phone call from someone on behalf of Erica Wasserman. I got in to Ross vet prep.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. We’re going to vet school!”

“Holy crap.”

*Hang up phone. Burst into tears.*

Yeah… not exactly the celebratory happy dance I was expecting to do. I want the Mister to go to vet school. I had finally gotten used to the idea of moving to the Caribbean (or so I thought). But the practical part of me was still preparing for plan B in case he didn’t get in. I’d been scanning potential job options and apartment styles, and thinking about puppies and babies – all the things I wanted out of the next phase of our lives. I guess I never stopped to think about how, if he did get in (and deep down I knew he would), I’d have to give all that up. At least for a while.

I cried for the high-profile job I always pictured myself having and I cried for the three-year gap in the impressive resume I’ve tried so hard to build. I cried for the amount of debt we’ll be in and the distance between us and home. I cried for the babies we’ll have to push back that much longer. And every “excited” phone call I made to parents and relatives made me cry that much more. I was determined not to let the Mister know that I wasn’t jumping up and down on the inside, but I did finally break down in front of him. I felt horrible for ruining his special, long-awaited acceptance day, but I couldn’t help it anymore.

I was giving up my life.

But I slept on it Thursday night and by the time I woke Friday morning I had come to a sort of subconscious clarity.

I’m moving to a place of indescribable beauty; a place tourists visit and wish they could stay, and I’ll get to watch their cruise ships leave as I call the island home. I’m going to have all kinds of cool stories and pictures to share with friends and family and to someday tell my children. I won’t have an awful gap in my resume because I’ll be able, hopefully, to work with the VIP spouses’ and children’s group to plan their social events and recreational activities. Hey, that’s PR too, isn’t it?

And maybe that big corner office isn’t as glamorous as I’ve always thought it would be. When we get back, I want to have babies, and that office often comes with long, unpredictable hours, phones ringing in the middle of the night, and un-family friendly schedules and responsibilities. Is that really what I want? And is it even about what I want, at that point?

More importantly, the Mister is going to get to go to vet school – the only thing he’s dreamed of doing since he was young. I should be grateful to the admissions committee for seeing his potential and giving him the opportunity to chase that dream when state-side schools wouldn’t give him a second glance. He is going to be a fantastic vet.

But most importantly, I also realized that I’m not giving up my life. It’s not my life anymore; it’s OUR life, and I promised to follow him for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, through sickness and in health. I promised to laugh with him and cry with him and be the soft place for him to land. I “gave up” my life almost a year ago, and the “our life” we’ve been living since has been wonderful. What’s to say the “our life” of the future won’t be just as good?

Sure we’ve got challenges ahead of all shapes and sizes, but we’ll figure out how to beat them one at a time. And who knows, maybe we’ll just learn something along the way. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

Advice about traveling, living as an ex-pat and handling veterinary school is all appreciated.

My Un-countdown

As the Keith Urban song so accurately says, “Days go by, I can feel ‘em flying’ like a hand out the window in the wind.”

Most days, this just feels like any other semester. Another class schedule, another set of professors, another list of assignments. At least once a week, someone will ask me about life after graduation and we discuss the possibility of school in the Caribbean. This seems like endless years into the future.

But every other week or so, someone will specifically mention graduation. I always have to stop and consider the question for a moment.

“When do I graduate?”

It’s not just a matter of what year or what semester anymore. It’s a matter of what month. What day. How many weeks left of life as I know it.

The night before I graduated from high school, I had a panic attack. I was sitting in the stands of a friend’s graduation, at exactly the same time as mine would be the following night, and “Pomp and Circumstance” began to play. I glanced at my watch and the reality hit me: In exactly twelve hours, I would be down on that floor preparing to cross the stage into a completely unknown phase of my life.

Until that moment, I could have told you the weeks, days and probably the hours until graduation. But I had never considered the great weight I would be taking on when that countdown was over.

In college, I watched my best friend count the days until graduation, and now I think she may have been happier if she had stayed. I have finally learned not to wish away the days. Now, I am determined to enjoy every day (or at least try) until I am made to cross that stage in December.

While I am proud to be graduating with my husband and excited to receive my degrees (yes, that’s plural), the voice in my head will still be screaming in protest.

I suppose the lesson of this long, somewhat philosophical rant is to remember to value the time that you have. Don’t keep countdowns.

Don’t look around at your little apartment and count the months until your husband will be able to afford a real house (you think). Don’t count the days until you can get a different job. Don’t wish the years away until you can have children, buy a pet or afford “nicer” things.

Just go out every day and try to learn something useful from your situation, whatever that situation may be. Appreciate the sunshine, but learn to dance in the rain. And when that song, “you’re gonna miss this,” comes on the radio, take it to heart.

 

“You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around. You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.” (Trace Adkins)