Today I really hated England, but I’m getting over it.

by Heidi Obermeyer


Today started off with me at about 60% Heiding capacity. I can attribute that to both to my lack of sleep and the insane amount of spinach artichoke dip I consumed last night at our group potluck. I’m a total old woman and also a 5-year-old: I cannot function without either 8 or 6 hours of sleep (I got 7 last night, and I don’t do odd numbers), yet I cannot hold off on eating and wait 30 minutes for people to show up with the other food without consuming at least a quarter of the dish that was supposed to be for everyone. Don’t worry, I pulled my weight and ate obscene amounts of everything other people made too. So a artichoke-dip-themed bellyache. It was bound to happen this morning.

The University of Bath, despite its picturesque hometown and status as the university “voted #1 in the U.K. for student satisfaction!”- which is plastered all over buildings on campus as a reminder of how much we’re supposed to like it there- has horrible bus service. The school is up on a hill a ways outside of town, so from the city center it’s about a 40 minute walk up to campus. This in itself is not a problem- I will hopefully walk to school at least once this semester (personal goal, which I now have to achieve since I’m posting it on the internet)- but the buses that you have to take to get to campus without walking up the hill are. I’m about to go on a real first world problem rant here, so please excuse me. Ironically, this is all en route to my politics and policies of developing countries class, where we talked about how lack of access to sanitation services like, really sucks, and I feel like a horrible human being for getting a Masters degree instead of going out in the world and helping people.

-“Did you ever thing there was more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good-looking?! Maybe we should be doing something more meaningful with our lives! Like helping people!”

-“Uhhh, Heidi, what people?”

-“I don’t know! People who need help!”

…so I have to take this bus to school, and blah blah blah it really sucks, and there’s two different companies which complicates things, and blah blah blah. Today it sucked particularly badly because I had to stand for the 20-30 minute bus ride up to campus. Usually I don’t have a problem with standing, but it was made significantly more horrible by the tightly winding bus route and excessive amount of braking required to get from my flat to the uni, which means a death grip on the nearest support pole is necessary. So not only was I standing on the bus, I was standing on the bus AND forgot my headphones AND was trying to answer some FSOT (foreign service exam) practice questions AND was getting a lot of them wrong. So by the time I got to campus, I hadn’t gotten my morning jam on, had been told by the Department of State app that I obviously know next to nothing about economics and management, and was running on an odd-numbered hours of sleep count. I was hating Bath. I’ll admit it! I was hating its stupid picturesque Georgian architecture, and I was hating that everyone knows I’m not from England because of my accent, and I was hating that I always get disoriented in vehicles and a little nauseous because of the whole driving-on-the-left-thing. Basically, I was grumpin’. I was grumpin’ hard.

And then I went to my development class, where I was hit by a wave of guilt for my stupid first world problems, and at that point, I had one of those moments. The ones that angst-ridden teenagers talk about, and also sometimes people who like to brag that they don’t vote, where they say, “Damn. The world is just a cruel place and so full of problems, and how is my teeny-tiny sphere of influence ever going to make a difference in this gigantic universe of horrible things?”

So at the end of class, I closed my laptop (upon which I had been researching Americorps, for if I never find a job and need a post-Grad-school back-up plan, and also maybe kinda-sorta browsing the Washington Post), I went to lunch, and I had the best pint of cider I’ve probably ever had in my life.

In that pint of cider was what I actually do like about England. The coziness.  The fact that I paid for in “quid” and that Queen Elizabeth’s face is jingling around in my wallet. The fact that I got to sit in a pub while I was drinking it and listen to the bartender talk about friends eloping and people making crazy, reckless, rewarding decisions in their lives. Sometimes, it just makes you feel better to hear someone you barely know talk about all the seemly-insurmountable challenges they’re facing, making your your seemingly-insurmountable challenges seem much less insurmountable.

After my hour at the pub, I met up with Katelyn, and we went shopping and discussed the potluck from the previous evening, and I instagrammed the abbey as the sun was coming out in the afternoon. It was beautiful. And it probably looked like I had a really good day to all the people back home who saw that picture right when they woke up, just as my day was winding down. But let this post be a reminder to you- the actual filters on instagram aren’t the only filters on instagram, and I have to say that my day definitely did not look or feel as good as that picture did.

By the time I got done with my day and dramatically dumped my backpack on the floor in my room, I was exhausted. But also trying to be more grateful- more grateful that I have running water, more grateful that I have a lot of really cool friends who put up with me being grumpy sometimes, and more grateful that I get to live in Bath for a semester. So tonight was a night of recovery- complete with browsing reddit, watching, like, the first 20 minutes of When Harry Met Sally, and, to top it all off, a dinner of leftover artichoke dip.

Never say never, right?