Going to put this on automatic update, just so I don’t miss another week. See, my abroad program incorporates a week of “free travel” into it, which is supposed to be more or less equivalent to Spring Break back home. A vacation, if you will, or a holiday as they are called here.
This is where we run into problems. I’m not much for vacations, you see, and I didn’t have to read any Jamaica Kincaid or DFW essays about lobsters to make me like this.
There’s this horrid little neologism that’s made the rounds recently, the ‘staycation.’ That is, a vacation where you stay home instead of going out somewhere; the thing is, every vacation for me is a staycation, and it always has been. It may surprise you, given my seething antipathy towards fun, good will, sunshine, and human beings in general, that I really, really dislike going out onto beaches or to theme parks and seeing various things/people/situations that only intensify my disgust and displeasure with life on this earth. When I have time off I don’t want to fucking go anywhere, I want to lock myself in my house and sleep for twelve hours and read books until three in the morning. This is how I relax, this is how I unwind. This is what a vacation means for me.
Not for most other people, unfortunately. The “free travel week” my program has is a bit misnamed. You see, it’s a misnomer because 1) if it were truly a “free” week I could stay at my house and sleep, as would be my preference, or 2) if it were “free” in the pecuniary sense, it would be a lot more appealing. As it happens, for seven days I am required to leave my house and travel either on my own or with friends and fend for myself. My host family is not being paid rent for that week. In essence, I am being kicked out.
My program, for whatever reason, thinks it’s a good idea to have a mandatory crash course in homelessness.
This all sounds a bit whiny, I’m sure, as I am a privileged young white male college student in an abroad program, which puts me a damn sight ahead of 80% of my cohort. I’m in Europe, aren’t I? I should be taking in the culture and traveling and seeing the sights. If you’re thinking that right now, then I have an offer: you fucking pay for it.
I’m a goddamn scholarship student. I’m only on this abroad program because I am incredibly, indescribably lucky — my tuition has been covered, thank god. But on the other hand, I’ve had to pay for plenty of other stuff out of my own pocket — plane tickets, clothes, supplies, food, various other travel expenses such as cabs and trains. My personal savings were drained by this trip, and supporting myself as an itinerant for a week will pretty much reduce me to nothing.
If I were the kind of person who read literature as being, in its heart, about class conflict, or if I were the kind of person given to screeching about systemic classist elements of any setup, I would have been bitching about this sort of thing long before now. So while I normally don’t care about it, I’ve finally come into a situation where it really irks me. (Enough to blog about it, anyway.)
To put it succinctly, I don’t have the money to live on my own in a foreign country for a week. My family does not have the money to help me. This is not something I can do.
But I’m doing it anyway, because I don’t have a choice.
Luckily I have some connections in Stratford-Upon-Avon who are willing to put up with me for a few days, though they’re in the process of moving so I can’t stay there the whole time. My family back home has managed to get me enough money that I can stay in a hostel (as much as I hate hostels with all my soul they are cheaper than hotels) in London for the remainder of the break. I’ve been living as a spendthrift over the last seven weeks, saving large amounts out of the grocery stipend I receive, so I have enough money to eat and buy various little stupid things I need, so I should be all right.
I’d still like to lock myself in a house and read all day, though.
Anyway, excitement: while I’m away I’ve used WordPress’s handy autoupdate feature to organize a series of short reviews of plays I’ve seen recently. These should be popping up at various points during the week, digitally prepackaged and intellectually microwaved for your consumption. It’s not going to be in the vein of the Psycho series, since there’s less for me to string together, so I figured it wouldn’t be bad for me to throw up all three reviews in a week. We’re looking at a Monday/Wednesday/Friday thing here, so stayed tuned.