Please note that I am not trying to be narcissistic by choosing to write about this topic. I just feel that it deserves more than a Facebook status update or a tweet for explanatory purposes. For weeks, or really months now that I think about it in its entirety, I have been agonizing over graduate school. The first wave of agonizing came with the admission process. Where do I apply? What do I write in my personal statement? Do I even really want to do this? Oh god the deadline is in a couple of weeks! And so on and so forth. Unfortunately I was in a bit of a bad place when I chose schools, and may have made some different choices otherwise, but oh well. C’est la vie, and we all end up where we’re supposed to in the end.
The second wave of agonizing came immediately after the last submit button was hit. The waiting game is NEVER fun to play. It went something like this: “Oh god, what if they don’t want me,” played on repeat for about three months. Then there was also the Great Freak Southern Snowstorm of 2010 which crippled the USPS in the South for a couple of weeks apparently. Sorting that whole mess in terms of received application materials made for a fun week.
The third, and most recent wave, came, to my surprise, after the acceptance letters, emails, and phone calls started coming in. By nature, my decision-making powers are not the best. I’m a firm believer in the technique of oh just think about it tomorrow, why worry yourself today? It doesn’t help. It’s a bad technique. I am proud to say, however, that I didn’t take it right down to the wire. The wire is the 15th, today is only the 11th. I actually set a deadline for myself that I could keep, so go me.
This last wave of agony was really awful. I feel as if I haven’t slept properly in ages, my school work has been sidestepped by this giant decision monster, and I generally have not felt my best. It’s true, I have been less than sweet to some of you in the past weeks, and for that I deeply apologize. Please understand that it most definitely was not you, it was me. Those of you who know and love me best, though, know how I get in my moody, broody phases. I am sorry for the snapping, withdrawal, crying fits, disappearing acts, hanging up of phones, yelling matches and so on. Thanks for all the love and support regardless, and I promise I’ll work on bringing back the old Betsy for the rest of term.
So now that I have rambled, I suppose you would like to know which state in our fine Union I’ll be calling home for the next little bit of my life. I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but I hope you won’t judge me for it. Before I reveal, (Oh yes you knew I would drag this out as long as possible didn’t you? I was an actress after all.) I would like to specifically apologize to you, Murthmaster. Who knows we may be opening the bakery/bar one day. I still want a doctorate. We would have been a dynamic duo taking the Capitol by storm leaving a trail of empty bottles and broken hearts in our wake, but alas, their museum studies program just isn’t as funded as their law school. So yes, if you didn’t pick up on it by now, I will be going to Florida in the fall. I again urge you not to judge because I’m not quite sure how I feel about this yet, myself.
The fact of the matter is, and the horrible snob in me is a little ashamed to admit it, it came largely down to an issue of money. In an effort not to be vulgar I won’t go into details, but to state it plainly, I would be in debt if I went to the other school. Yes the location is lovely, yes it’s close to the best history museums in the country, but what good is a lovely location and fantastic museums when you’re struggling too hard to enjoy them?
The Program in Florida, I have found, is equally respected. All of their graduates, who wanted museum jobs, have found them doing pretty much what they wanted. The program is small. I will be one of only six other students in my year, and there are only about twenty museum studies grad students in all on campus during the year. I will still have my pick of the litter when it comes to internships. Last year they sent one student to the Guggenheim, a couple to the Smithsonian, and another couple who wanted it, to work for NPS. They have also sent students to equally fabulous places like the Getty. I must say, after speaking this past week with the director, assistant director, and a couple of current students, I fell hard for their program. It’s highly customizable, family-like, and small, quite unlike the other place, as I have also come to realize.
To be honest, I am not thrilled about moving to a place with ninety degree temps in April, and I am really apprehensive about moving back to the South, something I hadn’t planned on. I will not go into my complicated love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with the region of my birth here, so don’t worry. On the other hand, Florida can hardly be called the South anymore with all the Northerners who have moved down there in the past few decades. I may feel more at home than I imagined. Gainesville is also a liberal city. At least that’s what I’ve been told. That’s promising.
In Florida, though, I should be able to find living arrangements that won’t break my bank, I will actually earn money by going there, and I should be able to finally adopt my dream kitty, Irving. (I sincerely hope more details regarding that last bit will be forthcoming here). Yes, I will have to learn to cope with the horrid Southern heat again. Yes, I will have to buy a completely new wardrobe. And yes, I will have to contend with living in a small city with limited live music options again. However, as I and those with whom I have been in close consultation keep assuring me, it’s only two and a half years. It will be over before I know it, and I’ll be popping back up into my newly beloved North soon enough. It’s the program that matters, anyway, and theirs is tops, perhaps even more so that the other place’s, curiously enough.
Thanks again to everyone, who has offered their love, support, and guidance through this truly exhausting process. I love you all, and at the risk of being overtly sentimental, I would not have made it this far without you.
Addendum: I know a lot of you out there are passionately anti-UF in terms of sports. Fear not, I will continue to care as less about sports as I always have. I have no intention of becoming a blue and orange (I think those are the colors) painted football/basketball/baseball or whatever the hell else is big down there fanatic. I actually only recently realized that my school was the one with the alligator mascot.