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The Starbucks Cookie Test (& Exciting News!)

The Starbucks Cookie Test (& Exciting News!)

This week’s post is going to be a little different. Firstly, because I’m writing it hours later than I usually do. Secondly, because it’s at a time of insane upheaval in my life.

Why is that?

Because I’m leaving New Zealand.

In 1 week, I’ll be flying back to Toronto. I’ll spend a few weeks with my family, gathering all my stuff and fighting with the online visa applications I have to deal with. All so I can set off for my next adventure: doing a Master of Publishing at Oxford Brookes.


The Cookie that Changed Everything

It’s both thrilling and terrifying.

I’ve wanted to study publishing for a long time. Longer than I’ve ever admitted actually. I was so terrified that the industry was dying and that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I hid behind my own writing.

I hid it for so long that I started to hide it from myself. I managed to convince myself that I wanted to study law. Because it was safe. It’s what my parents do. It’s a field I’ve worked in for a number of years. It would pay well.

But it wouldn’t make me happy.

It took me a year of LSAT prep, expensive applications and more personal essays than I care to remember before I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted. And it was all thanks to a Starbucks cookie.

I was in my studio apartment in Berlin when I got the email. They were giving me a scholarship! Someone wanted to pay for me to be a lawyer!

Or that’s what I expected to feel.

Instead, I felt meh. 

Then I took a bite of the chocolate chip cookie I’d just bought from Starbucks. The rigid cookie and tough chocolate chunk snapped between my teeth. And that made me smile.

I was smiling at a sub par (sorry Starbucks!) chocolate chip cookie, but not at the five zeroes in their offer.

My mind was made up: if a Starbucks cookie made me happier than law school, then I shouldn’t go to law school.


Accepting My New Path

That decision, while freeing, was also horrifying. I’d been working towards a specific path for a year. Everyone knew it was what I was doing. My furniture was waiting in Halifax for my return.

Now what was I supposed to do?

The answer came immediately, but I took some time to accept it. I decided to go to publishing school.

It was too late to apply for that year, so I’d be taking another year off (much to my dad’s chagrin). The two programs I knew of in Canada weren’t what I was looking for. So I, slowly and fearfully, branched out to the UK.

I love the UK. It’s probably the only place in the world I can see myself settling down. But, much like publishing, I was afraid to commit and fail.


The fact that the British pound is worth double the Canadian dollar had something to do with it, too.


Better than a Cookie

I’ll save you the tedious hours of research and Skype interviews that led me to Oxford Brookes. All you need to know is that I chose it over options in London – a city I’ve always dreamed of living in.

When I got my acceptance, I squealed in the middle of Queen Street on a busy day. I ducked into a corner and called my mom with the widest grin on my face. Then I called my dad. Then I went back and reread the email. My cheeks hurt from the size of my smile.

This was definitely better than a Starbucks cookie.

I’ve been accepted to Oxford Brookes’ 1 year Master of Publishing Media program. There’s an editing elective. The program includes 4 (!) optional (*read “mandatory” for Nina) trips to European book fairs. It wraps up with a summer internship and dissertation.

How could I be anything but thrilled?


Administration is the Bane of My Existence

The only damper? The administrative details.

Getting a visa. Applying for student housing. Setting up a bank account.

In a word: ugh.

It’s all made worse by the fact that I have to leave New Zealand to do it. I love this country and the amazing friends I’ve made. A large part of me still doesn’t really believe I’m leaving because I don’t want to say goodbye to them.

A larger part wishes I wasn’t leaving if only to avoid having to wrap up my life again.

On top of preparing to start a life in Oxford, I have to shut down my life here. Closing bank accounts. Cancelling phone plans. Donating bedding. Transferring money. Leaving my job. Saying goodbye to friends.

In a word: ughhhh.


It’s very bittersweet to be leaving New Zealand.

I’m so happy to be seeing my family soon after so long apart. I can’t wait for the familiarity of restaurants and normal fruit.

I’m even more anxious (in both senses of the word) to head to Oxford. I’ll finally be able to try publishing and see how I fare.

I’m incredibly sad to be moving away from my new southern hemisphere home. New Zealand has given me the chance to try once in a lifetime activities. I never hoped to make the close friends I did. I didn’t think I’d discover just how much I love cooking and hiking.

This country has become a true home to me. 10 months feels like far too short a time to spend here.

Although I’m so looking forward to the journey ahead, I’ll always hold my past adventures in New Zealand close to my heart.

Coming here was the best whim decision of my life. I didn’t even need a Starbucks cookie to figure that out.



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