Tonight is Worcester College, Oxford’s first pub night. All the new graduates will gather around the buttery and partake of some low-price English ale. Sounds like a good chance to meet people and make new friends.
I will not be in attendance. Instead, I will be leading a group of Princeton undergraduates in some illicit activities that rhyme with “team stunnelling” beneath Princeton (must talk in code – Shirley has spies everywhere). Admittedly, it sounds like fun, except for the fact that it means that I am, in fact, still in Princeton. And no, it’s not because of a sudden wave of nostalgia, but because I don’t have a visa to the U.K.
This post could easily turn into a rant against the U.K. immigration system. There are undoubtedly some absurdities, like the fact that my application had to be sent to Los Angeles when there is a consulate in New York, or that their “online” application has to be submitted on paper, or that it took them a full week after I FedEx-ed it overnight to their office to acknowledge that I had sent them anything. All in all, though, it’s hard to get too mad, since this whole situation is largely of my own making. I also considered using my whole experience—the confusion of poorly designed websites, the unintelligible array of forms, the utter lack of customer service—as an opportunity to identify with the plight of other immigrants trying to start a new life. But I think that would be a bit of an insult; they get screwed by the immigration system, I got screwed by my own carelessness.
There are, of course, parallels to my current predicament. Like, say, for example, last year, when I couldn’t take the LSAT because I filled out my registration form with the name “Alex V. Barnard” when my ID names me “Alexander V. Barnard,” a discrepancy that my test admission ticket warned me would prevent me from entering. I am not so humble that I won’t acknowledge that, in some situations, I am a pretty smart guy, but god I can be so dumb. Perhaps I am slated for academia, not because of any brilliance but because of my own absent-mindedness, which makes me suited only for a career that requires abstract theorizing and not an iota of awareness of details.
On the plus side, I am still going to Oxford—I’m just not entirely sure when. Under ordinary circumstances, showing up a bit late for school wouldn’t be a huge issue, except that I’m moving to a foreign country in which I don’t know anyone in an unfamiliar university system where I will be studying something I know nothing about. And, of course, there’s the fact that I have a very special visitor coming next week (read: Jackie).
Sigh. I need a personal assistant.