This, this, is going to be one of those stories. More to the point: this is the story of how pizza and thieves have threatened to destroy my dreams of education.
My name is Ian Helfrich. How´s it going?
Good? Yes, me too. That is, now that my hair no longer smells like garbage. You see, I am a masters student at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics and I am mid-way through a self-taught course in dumpster-diving instead of focusing on course work and pressing deadlines for doctoral program applications.
It´s about now that I assume you want to know why you should care. Either that, or you´re hanging around to see why I´m raiding garbage bins. Fortunately, these are connected.
I am a broke graduate student, living abroad, with my entire life contained in a backpack and laptop... and someone stole that entire life last night.
Here in Barcelona, pickpockets are a common occurance. This is such a problem that the local police department has a relationship-a sort of "give-and-take" if you will-with local thief groups.
I left the campus library after a 12 hour study marathon to find my favorite pizza restaurant, buy a take-away pizza, and go home for a late dinner and sleep. Instead, someone stole my backpack, complete with my macbook pro (rest in peace, my love of 5 years), tablet, wallet, two external hard drives, and all of my most important course notes. This is the worst timing possible. I mean, not that there is ever a good time to have someone rip a part of your life away, but I digress.
Exams start next week. That laptop had all of my writing samples and PhD applications on it. The portable hard drives in my bag contained extra information I was using to complete these applications, leaving me with nothing but heartache and burst blood vessels from stress.
They even took my lucky knick-knack that I´ve used for good luck in exams since I was 16. (I´m almost 23, but I don´t look a day over 30 right now).
Oh, and they took my diploma. Yes. That piece of paper I spent 4 years working towards now probably inhabits a rain gutter or, more likely, the only dumpster in a 2 kilometer radius I didn´t check.
The police have undervalued my losses at €4000, not to mention the crippling feeling of violation I feel after losing ever single academic paper I have worked on for the last 6 years.
Now here is the sad part. Of course. I´m broke and on my own in Spain, and now I have no reasonable way to pay for food, let alone rent, tuition, and PhD application fees.
Because of unfortunate family circumstances, I have over $100,000 in student debt already. My mother is in remission from cancer, and my biological father continues to battle terminal brain cancer.
The weight of the medical horrors of my youth had always narrowed my aspirations to simply getting from one day to the next. However, a desire to learn and eventually ignite passions for knowledge in students, just as the academic giants in my life have done for me, has given me a second wind to dream again.
In short, I am a graduate economics student, living in Spain, pursuing big dreams that have always seemed unreachable. Someone stole everything from me and I cannot afford to get it back.
Please help me in my studies by donating. With everyone´s help, we can get back on the road to success and conquer this unfortunate bump-in-the-road.