27 August 2006

The Circle of Life

The last few hours have been frustrating ones for me, and I need to vent somewhere, so this is, as Brigham Young said, the place. If you are looking for bright, cheery, peppy Joni today-you're going to have to look elsewhere, because right now I am so frustrated I could scream.

Deep breath.

Here it goes:

I have pretty much sold my soul to working this summer. I've worked two jobs, six days a week with the ultimate goal of making enough money to get me on the road to the study abroad I want to go on next summer.

Maybe I should paint the picture a little more clearly so you can understand the depth of my frustration. This isn't just any study abroad. This is the study abroad of all study abroads. It is the England and Literature, spring 2007 study abroad that BYU offers. This means flying into Edinburgh next April, and walking to London, stopping in places like Oxford and the Lake District along the way to learn about different authors in context of where they wrote. Sound too good to be true? Well-it's starting to look like too expensive to be true.

Our whole lives revolve around money. Why do we go to school? People can give glorified answers about bettering themselves and wanting to learn, but ultimately, when it comes down to it, you can do all of that on your own. I can buy a Norton Anthology and make up my own essays and have friends grade them if I want to. Why does anyone go to college? To make money. To get a job, to make money, to support a family, who will grow up, and go to college, to make money...etc. etc. etc. The very cynical part of me is saying that The Lion King has it all wrong. Maybe African lions have this glorified, soundtrack-accompanied circle of life, but the modern day American circle of life revolves around money. Without money, we can't survive. We have to pay for literally everything. Nothing is, as they say, free. And there's nothing, in a way, wrong with that. Money is what keeps people in check, I suppose, from turning into a bunch of African lions. But from where I'm sitting right now, I'd throw the entire system out.

Back to where I started. I have worked all summer, sacrificing time with friends and family to earn money. Almost four months later, and I still can't afford the tuition for London-much less the plane ticket out there and money for food while I'm there. Not to mention the t-shirt to prove I've been there. And looking at my finances and thinking about that just makes me so blazing mad. It feels like all I've worked for has been for nothing. Why even try? Half of the money I earned this summer is going to go down the drain paying for food, and books, and gas, and all that. Maybe even more than half. By this time next year, I'll be even worse off than I am now. I feel like my time has been completely wasted. I have all the qualifications I need to be accepted to the program. I have the grade point, I have the right major-I know I have what it takes to be accepted-but because my parents make enough money, I can't get federal aid. And because I can't get federal aid, I'm living on this borrowed dream of seeing the world before I settle down and get strapped to one place by a husband and kids.

I will never have an opportunity like this again. Ever. I can travel, sure. I'm not afraid that I'll never go to London, but that's not the point. I will never again have this chance. To study with people who are there for the same reasons I am. To discuss authors and see the countryside and...now I'm just getting riled up again.

Well, for those of you still reading, don't think I'm a snob. I am blessed. I know that. I have clothes on my back, and plenty of food, and everything I need to live. I have made in one summer more money than some people will ever see in a lifetime. I have no right whatsoever to complain about not being able to go on a study abroad when I have everything I need and then some, but there it is.

If anyone has extra cash laying around, I'll be on the street peddling for loose change.

Just kidding.

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