Home > Uncategorized > Embarking on a New Journey

Embarking on a New Journey

There are many things a prospective graduate student is warned about by their friends, family, undergraduate advisers, and well-meaning acquaintances.  You are told about the meager income, the possibility of increasing loan debt, and the isolation that can come from being a graduate student.  One of my favorites is the increasingly frequent process of hopping over to facebook only to read yet another update on an undergraduate friend buying a home and/or car.  The tears do little to add to the flavor of my ramen.

There are some things, however, that you can’t really expect until you have a chance to go through it yourself.  Take the actual dissertation process.  Sure, faculty and other candidates can tell you how hard a dissertation can be, but words never do the process actual justice.  It wasn’t until I started researching and writing full time that I came to understand the challenge.  This week I’ll be starting out on another one of those things that you don’t quite get explained to you when you are signing up for graduate school: the research fellowship.

This fall, I am fortunate enough to be a fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, where I’ll be happily tucked away in various Philadelphia archives researching away for my dissertation.  I am extremely excited for this opportunity and I will definitely benefit from the time in the archives.

But I wasn’t quite prepared for the journey that was moving to Philadelphia.  For starters, finding an apartment in Philadelphia while living in Chicago presents a special challenge.  It wasn’t that I waited to the last minute, but it’s just not easy to find something here when I was back there.  People don’t return phone calls, don’t provide pictures, or any number of other things.  To make matters worse, since I’ll only be out in Philadelphia for the fall, I was looking for a short-term lease.  Now, I did find a place, but it certainly isn’t as nice as my home in Chicago.  In fact, it isn’t even home, just “my place to stay while in Philadelphia.”  I can’t stress enough, take care of apartment matters as soon as you can.

Not only was finding an apartment challenging, but there is the cost of moving, of temporarily furnishing the place, and getting settled in general.  These are the types of things you don’t really account for when you are starting out as a bright eyed grad student, but they are certainly challenges.  The biggest one for me will be the fact that I’ll be separated from my wife for the fall.  She’s busy with her responsibilities in Chicago so we will have to become quite familiar with skype.

But despite the unpleasantness of getting settled here in Philadelphia, I can’t wait for the MCEAS activities to get started.  I can’t wait to dig into all the wonderful material at the archives.  And I can’t wait to get to know my colleagues for the term.

I am hoping to blog a bit more regularly about my experiences this semester.  But I’m also aware that previous claims to more activity have fallen by the wayside.  Perhaps this term will be better!

Categories: Uncategorized

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