Last week was The Week of Applications. One of them was work-related, so we can skip over that. The interesting one was for the MPhil, which I got in on time by a hair’s breadth after one of those alarming ‘March deadline means 1 March’ realizations. Cue lunchtimes spent frantically searching for relevant publications and journal articles, as well as a desperate hunt for my academic vocabulary, last seen in 2007. Was it at the bottom of the wine glass? Not entirely sure, best check again.
With maddening efficiency, by last Tuesday afternoon the OU had acknowledged that my application had been received. I say ‘maddening’ because since then, not a peep have I heard. The status has been the same on each of the approximately
3, 854 3, 855 times I have checked between last week and this; what I really want is a Twitter stream of my application’s every step. I suppose that, grudgingly, I might settle for an RSS feed.
I don’t know how long the application process takes, and in the meantime, I must Plan on the assumption that I get accepted. Turns out that several years away from the homeland has punitive effects beyond that of not having a credit history when you first get back. In OU terms, I’m probably an overseas student because I have not been ordinarily resident in the UK for the last three years. Overseas students pay more, and that’s fair enough, because there’s no UK subsidy towards their fees. The Open University is still vastly more affordable than anywhere else and they have the Open University Student Budget Account, which allows students to pay their fees in monthly instalments. (Anyone would think that, unlike the current government, they wanted people to be able to get an education.)
But: finding £300-400 pcm isn’t going to be easy. There is only one significant expense I can cut, and that is rent. My lease is up in mid-July, so I do have to make this decision pretty sharpish. (I know, I know, scant weeks ago I was explaining why I’d probably stay in my flat for another year. But flat or possible MPhil? Easy choice.) There is only one way in which I can cut my rent enough, and that’s by moving further out of Oxford and taking an unfurnished flat. The slight downside to this plan (or, as I prefer to view it, exciting opportunity for indoor camping) is that I don’t own any furniture.
The tricky balancing act will be to move far enough away that rents drop, without going so far that I have to drive in every day and thereby spend on petrol all the money I’m trying to save. It is a serious point that I can’t put myself in a location where I’m dependent on a car, because as oil prices continue to rise, petrol will accordingly head pretty swiftly into the realm of unaffordable luxury. Avert your eyes, American readers: It cost me £55 to fill a 12 gallon tank last week.
Current thinking says: move house; defer MPhil for a year (if accepted) and try not to go entirely mad with boredom in intervening year; gradually buy furniture; finish paying off car loan; start MPhil; continue to save; have second year of MPhil at UK student rates because will have been back in UK for three years by then.
So, with all this to take into consideration, what does the sensible woman do? Obviously, I started looking for furniture. And I found this sofa and its accompanying Bouji chair…