Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Reflections and Fantasies

It’s been one year since I graduated, and I’ve been reflecting on the experience of college and thinking more and more about the future. (The recent loan-repayment development has me thinking about it as well.)

Something I can’t get out of my mind is the $40,000 I owe in student loans.

I thought that getting a degree would free me. It did, in a way; I feel I accomplished something important and I definitely learned a lot. But the problem is, I now feel I’ll be stuck working some job I hate for the next 10+ years just to get rid of this debt. It is a huge burden.*

I dream of moving to Europe. It’s just that, if I try to think realistically, it would be exponentially more difficult to find work there (particularly the countries I’m most interested in, which are Italy and France) than here in the States. It’s also generally more expensive to live in Europe. And there are many other factors that might make life difficult in, say, Italy (the language barrier, for one - which would take a lot of Italian lessons to surmount).

At this point, I have a journalism degree, little job experience, and no money. On paper, that’s it.

I can barely make payments on my loans right now (most are in deferment), in addition to barely paying my other living expenses. I owe my parents an absurd amount of money. And I let friends buy me meals a lot – admittedly without much guilt.

I’d like to think that if I didn’t have this debt, I could just get up and leave. Or, to put it in different terms: I could work for a while, save a little money, then get up and leave.

I could sell my furniture, pare down my wardrobe, and go.

I think up schemes sometimes in my daydreams. (Being jobless provides a lot of time for such things.) I could teach English. I could market my photography/prints via the internet. I could write freelance. I could finally do something with my massive collection of audio recordings.

Of course it would never be easy or remotely simple. I have family and friends here; roots. A cat. Normality.

* * * * * * * *

I guess I’ve always been a dreamer. Recently I finished Summer by Edith Wharton, and I identified with the protagonist more than I should probably admit. She, Charity Royall, was definitely a dreamer – one to head off into the fields and lay in the grass for hours, never mind her duties at work. Unfortunately, one to not really protest when the boy she loved ran off with a prettier, more attractive young woman.

Such is life in rural 18th-century New England.

*The new law means that I should be able to make smaller payments on my loans; also, if I still have student loan debt 25 years after I finished school (when I'm 50!) it will be forgiven. The latter feature is merely depressing; the former kind of nice.


Heather said...

Oh, Edith Wharton. She's got such a lovely style of writing, doesn't she?

Sorry to hear the loans are hanging over your head.

pinksundrops said...

Think of it this way... With your degree you can go out there and find a job that will pay you twice as much than if you didn't have a degree which covers your payment. Oh and had a better schedule. Just look up the jobs available with out a degree in SOME thing.