Highs and Lows

7 April 2020

In his third blog, Pablo shares the highs and lows of studying abroad in California.


Well, where should I start? A lot has happened since I wrote my last post so today I find myself trying to make sense of my story as it stands. How does one come up with a logical narrative? Do people always leave out the bad bits? Is this part worth telling? I’m probably not expected to overthink this post as much as I’m doing but I can’t help it: I want it to be as truthful as possible. So let’s begin with aspects that I disliked about the past two months, shall we?

Holiday isolation. It’s a thing. Most of your friends are home, spending the holidays with their respective families. Even your Jewish friends, who don’t celebrate Christmas, are still going to the movies and eating Chinese with their parents (as they often do this time of the year). Your family came to visit you for a super nice week but now they’re gone. Your plans for that road trip with friends got cancelled at the very last minute. So you wake up early and go to the beach for a run. Maybe even cook a nice meal. But there’s no one to share it with. Whoever said being alone can be fun is a fool. Let the new term begin already, please.

Bureaucracy. Be grateful that you live in Europe. You’d think that for a country as glorified as the States, dealing with paperwork would be easier but you’d be wrong. Just when you think you’re done filling out pointless forms, surprise! Here’s another one. And this one’s sixteen pages long plus it needs the signatures of your manager, your academic advisor and someone else who happens to be on emergency leave for another two weeks. Also, why bother doing things electronically when you can just print single-sided paper like there’s no tomorrow? Ever heard of the concept of saving the planet? All my solidarity to those who daily navigate the chaotic world of jobs, paperwork, visas or benefits in this country: your resilience is admirable.

And now to the many, many good bits. I finally found a job! I’ll be working part-time in the human resources department at UC Santa Cruz. Maybe I can now start planning that trip to Panamá with my flatmates. Or I can visit my friend Eszter in Texas, how exciting! Or maybe I’ll simply treat myself to a fancy chocolate bar. Life is just so fun when you can afford things. I’m also currently hosting two of my best friends from Spain and that has been very enjoyable too. This past weekend, we drove north to San Francisco and stopped in many beaches along Highway 1. We saw two cute elephant seals chilling by the shore and took selfies with them. Did you know that they can get as big as a Land Rover? According to my roommate, they also get eaten by orcas all the time. Either them or great white sharks. Gotta love the Californian wildlife.

Remember how I said in my last post that classes were not as challenging as UCL? Well, I take it back. This quarter, lectures are much heavier but I’m so here for it. In one class, we are learning about Europe’s colonial past and refusal to address current institutional racism. Following World War II, efforts to move on from the horrors of the Holocaust led to a form of post-racial politics that only served to foster further racism. All good fun. I’m also back at the pool, training weekly with the Triathlon Club. Our first competition will be in two weeks and it’s got me both excited and nervous. If I survive it, you’ll hear from me in my next post. Till then!


By: Pablo Galindo