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So it was recently my mother's birthday. Like a good little offspring, I sent her a card and called her. My younger sibling, rebrobate that he is, forgot (or chose not to?), despite reminders from me and our dad. Alas. Now he's gone incommunicado and the current parental theory is that he's avoiding contact because he'd have to awkwardly address the belated birthday thing.

I of course, assured them that this probably wasn't the case and that his phone or something probably died. Then, I logged into my email and considered whether or not it was too late to email my POI. Which sort of made me realize its the same situation. So much for being the good sibling.

That probably doesn't make any sense, so I'll explain what I'm getting my knickers all in a twist about: A week and a half ago, I got website notification that I got into my dream school. Yay! But it was just online, no email or anything from the DGS or my POI. For the first couple days, I was still in shock-mode, and unwillling to email anyone at the school in fear (terror) that they'd rescind their offer. Now, I realize that its probably unlikely (though stilll odd that I haven't heard from them otherwise, right?) So I should email my POI right? Generally, I figure that she's an awfully busy person, and that if she wanted to talk to me, she'd have done it. And last week, I rationalized that she was certainly busy with CAAs (big art historian conference). This week, I'm running out of rationalizations, and full of legitimate questions about the school/program/city/etc. But...now it is all awkwardly belated. I'm like my younger brother avoiding calling my mom- and its only getting worse as I wait (is it?) So I've worked myself up into even more confusion. Do I email her? Do I wait until I hear something else from the school, until I officially accept, until I hear back from other schools? What do I say to her? It is a small program, what if someone noticed I was being awkwardly quite and just decided to pipe up two weeks after the fact. Le sigh. Proof I can make myself nervous about anything.

This post has absolutely nothing to do with admissions. My apologies to the people who may be annoyed by that (you've now been warned though!). Between long bouts of fretting and scouring GradCafe for information, I occassionally read for my classes. As a result of some recent reading I've been doing for a historical methods class, I've been doing some pondering on reconstructions and such (of the town and building variety), which got me thinking about restored towns, good, bad, and ugly.

Off the bat, I'm one of those people who enjoys things non-restored. I see medieval masonry being plastered over and cry inside (why? why would you do that?!) It saddens me to know that Historic Williamsburg came into being after the destruction of 720 buildings constructed post 1800, leaving 82 standing structures (Colonial Philadelphia- you are guilty of this as well!). A full 341 buildings were built from scratch in order to complete Historical Williamsburg. All that being said, Historical Williamsburg and Colonial Philadelphia are lovely, enjoyable places to visit- but whatever happened to "first, do no harm"? (Yeah, I know that's a physician thing, not a historian thing. And the motto of archaeology is "digging is destruction".)

Some places get it right (in my completely non-professional, highly subjective opinion). Among these are Dover Castle, which manages to showcase structures from a number of historic periods: WWII-era tunnels, a Roman lighthouse, and Anglo-Saxon/18th century church, and the stunning 11th century central tower). The central tower is restored, but not in a gross or heavy-handed manner (see below for Rakvere), and is decorated with wall hanging and furniture. The furniture, although designed to model 11th century furniture, isn't made to look old- it isn't making an attempt to fake you out. Like a good restoration of say, Bronze Age Pottery, you can tell what's original and what's restoration.

Website for site here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/dover-castle/

Another place I really enjoyed was Bannack, a Montana ghost town and National Park Historic Site. The buildings were basically abandoned in the late 19th century, after the local supply of gold and silver ran dry. In the 1950s/60s, the site was taken over by the US national Park Service. Unlike nearby Virginia City/Nevada City, which have been tarted up for the tourists, Bannack is decidedly quiet. The pamphlet says that the aim for the site overseers is "arrested decay", which apparently involved a one-time project to stabilize the buildings (so they wouldn't do harm to themselves...or to the tourists?). Beyond stabilization, they aren't doing anything to the town site besides trimming the occassional shrubbery. No fresh coast of paint, no safety rails for visitors, no informative signposts or kitschy old-timey stores (if you're looking for that, head on down to Virginia City!). I haven't completely worked out what I think the best methods for preservation and restoration are yet, but I'm pretty sure that I support the way things are being done at Bannack.

Website here: http://www.bannack.org/photo_tour.htm

As the undisputed champion of how it shouldn't be done, I vote for Rakvere Castle in Estonia. How it made it onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I have absolutely no idea (do they not have standards for how you're allowed to "restore" things?! I wish I had a website to show you all the horrors they've done to this medieval castle (12-14th centuries, if memory serves me). My biggest problem with this place is that they're "restored" it with absolutely no thought to history (or maybe accuracy or genuiness wasn't their intent?). Maybe it just bothers me a lot because I'm a medievalist? Maybe I'm also that annoying person who points out anachronisms in movies, and that's why it bothers me? They's built up a hokey seige machine playground (why on earth would there be a seige machine on the inside of a fortress?! Besides, what good is a seige machine doing to do you on a hill fortress?), and have an archaery range inside the walls of the castle (5 Euros and you too can be a medieval warrior!). Go ahead an eat lunch there, you can have some "medieval beverage" (watered-down cranberry juice, don't ask me the reasoning there) and "medieval food" (pita bread and parsnips? You can do better, I know you can.). Unable to escape, I was forced on a tour with a monk (I wonder how he rocks the tonsure when he heads home at night?), who led the wide-eyed tour group to the "torture chamber". This is when I died a little inside. This windowless room was likely a cellar back in the day, but some crazed person had rigged up red lights, strewn plastic rats all over the floor, hung plastic skeletons everywhere, and was piping in screams/creepy music. In the cellar next door, we were told about the horrible outbreak of the plague and how all the dead bodies were kept in her (First, its a cellar. Second, it barely fits our tour group of 8, I doubt it could possibly fit hundreds of dead bodies. Third, plague dead get buried outside the walls! Argh.) The next room was decorated in painted styrofoam to look like Dante's Hell (there was even a sign to let us know, and pop-up ghouls to scare the youngins), but I was already too dead inside to care about this room. All I could think about was "what have you done to this perfectly wonderful castle?! You've ruined it!" Argh! Pain. Despair!

Kudos to anyone who's held on through this much of my rant. I do want to open up the question (not just to the historians/art historians/museum studiers)- what do you think about historic preservations and restorations and that type thing? Are there any places that you think have handled the issu particularly well or particularly poorly? Do you think I'm a total nut/jerk/snob? Penny for your thoughts. And hey, maybe it will take your mind off of admissions for a bit. Thanks for enduring my whole long, ranty, non-admissions-related post! Happy second work week of February!

May the odds be ever in your favor!

I've known all along that January 2012 id what follows December 2011, but I think I somehow managed to block out from my head what that means, you know, practically speaking. For instance, Today is the 28th of December, 2011. Now, if this were the 28th of, say, November, that would be totally cool and everything, and I could treat it like the 28th of any month ("oh la di da, look, I'll have to change the title of my whiteboard calendar/planner, I'll have to remember to dig out a set of replacement contacts, etc.") After surviving the final exams and papers for my classes and about half of my app due dates in December, I figured I deserved a well-earned bout of relaxing. Maybe until the end of the month? Why of course.

The problem is that January 2012 immediately (IMMEDIATELY!) follows December 2011. So I'm sitting here relaxing my way through the last week of December, completely neglecting (until like 20 minutes ago) that January 1st (when two of my apps are due) is in four days. FOUR DAYS! AGH! I tried to do all of my December apps at least a week (or three) ahead of time. All of those apps that were sitting in the misty, undefined future, are now due in a few days- dang it. Now I have to shift into panic-and-get-things-done gear, and desperately hope that the one transcript and two GRE scores that I forgot to send arrive in time. Sigh. Why do I do this to myself?

I do love google, and all of its myriad miracle products, but I'm starting to be driven crazy by the google ad generator advertisements to grad school-related things. Every time I open up my email, google lays a bunch of judgement on me. I'm trying to write my emails, and there looming on the top/side/bottom of the page is google's suggestions for my life plan (which are currently "Improve your life with Devry!" and "ITT Tech, degrees for your future")

Don't even get me started on my Facebook advertisements, they're even more judgey (no I'm not looking to be a baby donor, nor am I looking to choose engagement rings, and for the love of all things holy stop suggesting tech schools to me!!!!)

Also, I've just noticed as I'm sitting here writing this, all of the ads at the top of this page are for graduate programs. Dear google, lay off my life please. Right up there looming, there is an advertisement for Loyola MBA (you don't know me google! I don't want that kind of degree!), "Top engineering degrees near you" (oh no you don't, you don't know me), and "Top universities near you, professors to inspire you." (fine, you win.I give up google).

Is anyone else being bombarded by judgey online advertisements? I can't be the only one.

An Observation

By LLajax,

So, I've been pouring over the posts here for months (okay, so I don't know how much I've gotten out of the various science-y posts, but I'm reading them nonetheless), and I realized just today that I've totally drank the GradCafe koolaid. I've found this particularly true in read the frequent "what are my chances?" posts. Heck, I think my first post not too many months ago was one of them, and I mean no judgment against those who post them- I get it. Your/my first concern is "Oh my gosh, can I do this???" and everyone's natural reaction in to search for some way of quantifying our chances (because we are people and people like numbers. I like numbers... okay that's a lie- I like pictures and not numbers). But still, when I'm waiting for a bus or train, I want to know exactly how many minutes/seconds its running late, and when I'm taking a test, I mentally divide up exactly how much time each question is allotted. I always look to see how many times various people have posted, even if it means nothing whatsoever. I think maybe its because numbers are strangely comforting? "I know nothing, but I have numbers to soothe myself!"

So what I've realized lately is that there's absolutely no numbers whatsoever for me to take comfort in (no matter how many times people ask me what the average admitted "put statistic type here" is for the schools I'm applying to, the answer is still going to be "I don't know"). But thanks to GradCafers kindly reminding every "what are my chances" poster that there's more to it than just numbers, and exceptions for every kind of assumption, I've sort of been able to let go of it.

I'm applying to schools. I really like the ones (9) I picked. I really hope I get in, but have absolutely no expectations about one school or another. Regardless of their names or ranks (I'm doubtful about the very existence of any kind of ranking for my exact interests anyways)- I don't have any better (or worse) chances of getting into any of them. Of course I have favorites (I have a favorite of everything: pair of socks, type of macaroni and cheese, pencil), but that doesn't mean I'm any more or less likely to get in. I'm just doing my best, and hoping some adcom out there really thinks I'm rad. All in all, I'd like to thank the GradCafers for chilling me out (I am, like, at peace with the process, man...woahhh).

Hello everyone!

I am going not to try to step on any toes or overlap with other things written on the other blogs, but I can't make any promises.

By way of introduction, I'm currently in my last year of undergrad (in History! But I want to switch over to Art History for grad!). I've been receiving emails galore as part of my senior undergraduate listserv for career fairs (come on Career Services people...you know I'm never going to make a good banker or lawyer). Wouldn't it be nice if there were friendly Applying-to-Grad-School services people to hold your hand and offer you chocolate when you need it (or whatever your stress-reliever of choice is). I may of may not think of GradCafe-ers as those people.

In general, I'm mildly terrified that after all the hard work of applying, I'm going to be left standing around in May, as my classmates graduate and go to their nice, paying jobs, while I'm thrown into total chaos because the admissions gods did not favor my request. Unfortunately, I can't sacrifice a fatted calf at the Altar of Admissions (if I could...I just might).

Hopefully, this blog will follow me along as I apply. I also write another blog, but it isn't a personal. http://liberlexica.wordpress.com/ Pay no mind to my irreverent appropriation of history.)

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