Fell4Ever added a blog entry in Asian Studies MastersT-minus 12 days.This might just be my last blog post here on The Grad Cafe, and it is an exciting turn of events. How I went from a 'decaf' lurker to a Master's Student is certainly a trek I will not soon forget. I still wake up some days just wondering how I got into such a great program when everyone just seemed to out-qualify me, but there are those days when I feel confident, happy and ready. I am ready.
I'm still not 100 percent positive with what I want to do with my life, but I know I want to get my Masters and I know I am happy with the program I am in. I still wish my Japanese was better, I still wish I had more work experience and I still wished I had more time to stay young - but, as I said, I think I'm ready. No matter what number my dice lands on, I'm happy with the way things have worked out right now.
Where I was
Undergraduate Institution: Temple University, Japan Campus
GPA: 3.85, one of 5 Magna Cum Laude
Major/Minor: Asian Studies/Political Science
Reflection:Considering the school is the first 6 stories of an Office Building in downtown Tokyo, I don't really regret going to TUJ. It wasn't the hardest school - and most of the students really aren't in it for the academics - but it did teach me a lot. Being in such an unique international set up - an American school in Japan with people from all around the world - really taught me a lot about the world, myself and academia. Maybe I wasn't pushed to my limits, but I really enjoyed the ride and I cannot deny the growth I feel as person with a Temple Japan degree.
Where I will be
Graduate Institution: University of British Columbia
Program: Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Policy Studies
Worries: I'm going to die - taking such a heavy course loud to finish school in a year. I'm going to be the dumbest one in the room. The program doesn't focus enough on Japan. Canadian credentials might get in the way down the road, maybe.
Hopes: I meet a plethora of new international friends and contacts to add to my already varied list. I get a stronger focus on policy studies. The beautiful campus inspires me to actually leave my room. I succeed.
Where I could have been
Graduate Institution: Seton Hall University
Program: Duel Masters in Asian Studies and Diplomacy & International Relations (Whitehead school)
Why I didn't go: Offered only a few TA-ships and no other substantial financial assistance. Huge China focus - limited Japan courses that I saw. Didn't make me feel special.
What I'll miss out on: Seton Hall has fantastic networking and a unique partnership with the UN that I wish I had access to. Despite being much smaller and younger than UBC, I'm pretty sure Seton Hall's networking and alumni set up is far superior. I would have been able to live at home, and NYC/DC were so close.
I have officially registered for all but one of my classes with UBC - and I'll be in that last one soon enough. UBC makes you register for the whole year, instead of semester by semester, and since I plan on graduating in one year (=Death) that means I'm all set. My classes are really varied but, ultimately, set me up to have a strong foundation in international development and the role policy plays in the growth of Asia Pacific countries. There's a focus on East Asian diplomacy and Japanese government structures which I'm going to love as well. One of the cooler things I've learned is that many of my professors will let me tailor the classes to fix my interest - they wont care if all my papers are on Japan/US relations or what not. As long as I do the research and mold in their coursework, I'm set.
I'm taking 4 courses a term/semester, which is scary considering everyone is telling me not to take more than 3. But even grad school has to obey the law of economics and I do not have the money for a fourth semester, so I have to finish up in one year. The only thing I don't know yet is where/what my Practicum will be, though I know it will take place over the summer. I'm hoping to do something in Japan - worth with an NGO or government agency but of course my Japanese will need improving.
Of course it seems like I will be missing yet another one of my graduations, which is extremely depressing. I missed TUJ's ceremony because I couldn't afford to fly to Japan for it (graduated a semester early) and now UBC's ceremony for me wouldn't be until November, with me having finished all requirements by September 2013. Oh well. T_T
I'm still trying to find a job - I applied to a bunch of RA'ships but I didn't get any so far. If I can make 200 a week than I should be able to pay for grad school on my own and return my loan to good old Uncle Sam - but taking so many classes AND working might just honestly kill me.
Since this might be my last post ever, I guess I should leave a small bit about what I have learned about applying. One of the things I will point out is to just APPLY to a program - even if you don't think you'll ever get in. I thought UBC and White Head were well beyond my abilities - and yet both got in. UBC even called me an extremely strong candidate (I'm sure they had me mixed up with someone else, though). If you have the money and don't mind bothering the people writing your LoR, please, please, just apply to the programs you are interested in. You never know what will happen.
Thank You Grad Cafe for scaring the hell out of me with your 'I save orphans and scored a perfect GRE test', its been mad fun : )
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Fell4Ever added a blog entry in Asian Studies MastersIts all about to START soon.I leave for Vancouver Canada on August 15th, 2012 at around 7:20 AM from Newark Liberty International Airport and land at around 10:30 AM local time. August cannot come soon enough. Everything is falling in place, and the more I get done, the longer each day becomes. Its just like how it was when I was six and it was 3 days from Christmas... the waiting game is a horrible one.
I've been in contact with my school - The University of British Columbia - and my program - Masters of Arts in Asia Pacific Policy Studies - and I seem to be on track. I've picked all the classes I want to register for (discussed below), with registration only 3 days away. I have my loan approved from the US Government and I'm just waiting to finalize my scholarship with UBC that should pay for most of my tuition. I found an amazing apartment in Vancouver: a 4 bedroom 2 bath basement suite in a cute (but flat!) neighborhood which comes pre-furnished and has all new appliances in the kitchen. Its 500 CAD a month, utilities included, which is a great deal. I am rooming with one girl from my program - she actually found the apartment - which should be useful. The other 2 rooms are currently unoccupied, but I'm sure our landlord is trying to change that. There's a grocery store and a small strip of stores/restaurants/businesses just a few minutes walk away, including a bus stop which links me to the rest of the city.
The commute from my apartment to school is about a 5-10 minute walk - depending on how lazy I am - to the bus stop and then a 40 minute bus ride (sometimes shorter sometimes longer) with a final 5-10 minute walk to the school building. Its basically an hour commute, which isn't that bad. I'm still #220 on the waitlist for housing (I was originally #440) and there are only 200 grad student rooms, so its pretty obvious I'm not getting an apartment there. Its fine, I commuted to school when I was in Tokyo, so its not like its anything new.
All my classes have always been MON/WED/FRI and TUE/THURS, which sucked. But for UBC, my grad courses are one day a week for about 3 hours, sometimes 2 days a week for 1.5. This will make commuting easier, AND it will mean I can do fun things like attending school meetings, lectures, etc. Should be exciting. I don't want to list all my classes out of pure laziness, but basically I'm taking 8 courses for a total of 4 classes per semester/term. I'm taking 2 senior level undergrad courses because they're on interesting topics and the rest are all grad level. I'm taking things like Gender and Policy, Democratization in Asia, and a research class on China and Sea-Conflicts in South China Sea
which should be really cool.
There are some issues still: like how I want to take every course ever and have no room, but its fine. I actually have to run to my job, so i'll post this now and post another lattttter.
Good luck to you all, and me too
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Fell4Ever added a blog entry in Asian Studies MastersGetting Ready for Grad SchoolSo now that I've been accepted into both the schools I applied for (Still in shock), its time for me to figure everything else out - like how to get to school, how to pay for school, etc.
I went to a Seton Hall "Meet the Dean and Faculty" meeting, which was a big mistake. Since the beginning I was pretty set on going to UBC, but this meeting gave Seton Hall a fighting chance. After they introduced the faculty and staff and discussed what they were studying and such, they brought on the students. Those undergrads at the Whitehead school are so much better then me. They all had beyond-impressive internships at the State Department, the UN or even the Defense Department. And the alumni they brought in - AMAZING. Some where just three years out of school and had fantastic, high level jobs, and of course they all said it was because of Whitehead and their networking abilities. But I will not be going there >.< I hope anyway. I can live at home and go to Seton Hall, but that's the problem - living at home. My family drives me insane (in a good way, not in an abusive way) and I hate living with them. It might sound stupid, but I'll go to UBC and take on more debt just to get away from them and live on my own. I am 100 percent more happy when I'm in my dorm or apartment, and I think that happiness will really help me out in grad school.
So, now that I'm set on going to UBC (theoretically, at least) I need to get everything planned. I know its still six months away (a little less), but planning helps me relax (and procrastinate, I'm suppose to be studying my Japanese). Again, this blog post is probably more for me and my brain then for you
Things To Do
Graduate Stafford Loan
I have to sign up for and apply for the Graduate Stafford Loan so that I can pay for Tuition and Housing (and most likely food). Tuition, after scholarships, is costing me around $2000, and housing (if I get it) is around $9000, so I need at least $11,000 in loan money. I'm going to want extra for food, fun/living expenses, and internship money, so maybe I'll take out a total of $16000. Anything I don't use I can instantly put back into the loan as payment, or I could use it as 'moving costs' for after I graduate
I'm not sure if my practicum/internship will be paid for, or if it will even be in Canada or the United States. So I need some money to pay for food/housing for 2 months in case this happens
Just for fun, I already have $18000 in loans from Undergrad from the Federal Government and $4400 from the State of Vermont
Pre-Grad School Costs + Job
I have been looking for a job for the past 2 months and no one will hire me. At first I applied for "real jobs", like ones that require a cover letter and such. But since then I've been applying to everything, including cashier jobs and restaurants, and no one will even call me back.
I also just got an e-mail from the Fed telling me I go into repayment on my student loans in 3 months, and I can't go back into deferral until September when I start school full time. This means I need a job ASAP so I can make the payments on my undergrad loans for July, August, and September (probably)
Also, every dollar I make now is one less dollar I need to take out in Loans for grad school.
I officially applied for year-round housing at UBC. There's a huge waiting line, so its good I applied already. The top-choice housing I want is in this graduate only complex called Thunderbird located in the middle of campus. Its furnished, and has a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and 4 bedrooms. I really do not want to share my living space with anyone (Japanese share-houses ruined that for me) but I'll suck it up. I really hope I get it, and it works out to about $650 a month, which is not bad in Vancouver.
Of course I wouldn't mind private housing, but I'm worried about the housing contract. I cannot sign a year-round lease in case I end up getting an internship or practicum in another country. I'm sure if I explained it to my landlord or whatever they would forgive me, but it just complicates things. Most housing I've seen ranges from $500-$800, so my on-campus housing isn't a bad choice. Though I do hope it has a kitchen...
My parents pay for my cell phone, but I think they're going to cut me off when I'm in Canada. I'd have to pay massive roaming charges, etc. if I use it there, so it makes sense to switch to one in Canada. I wont sign a contract with anyone, just get one of those pay-as-you-go ones.
[*]Canada has universal health insurance, and unlike Japan's it cost more then 10 dollars a month. I think my parents might take me off of their insurance, which would suck since I could still leech off of it when I move back to the states after graduation.
[*]How the hell am I getting there?
[*]Flying: I have no problem with flying. It doesn't bother me, especially after 15 hour flights from Newark to Tokyo non stop. My friend who I met in college in Japan (who is American) has offered to let me visit her in Spokane Washington, stay a few days, and would then drive me up to Vancouver, which seems fun and fine.
[*]Driving: I do not have a car, but my father is hinting that he might give me his. I've been in college in a different country for the last few years so I could never buy one, so it would be a really nice graduation gift if he gave me his XD And I would really love to drive across the country, it would be great. He also might want to DRIVE WITH ME (and my mom) to vancouver. Which I wont do. I'll kill them. I have to explain to them that I hate being trapped in small spaces with them and would rather sleep in a dark room with 10 serial killers then drive cross country with them. Ah, love. And it would be really awesome to have a car in Canada and rive to Seattle or what have you on weekends. Though car insurance gets tricky...
[*]Gotta get thin and sexy for grad school. Or I could cheesedoodles. Yup.
I know it sounds like a lot, but I'm good at getting shit settled. And I have 6 months. Plenty of time.
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Fell4Ever added a blog entry in Asian Studies MastersGot Into Dream SchoolI. Did. It~ I am officially done with the application period for 2012!
Summary: I initially set off with the idea of applying to about 5-6 schools, but once I realized that application fees were around $100 each, I backed off fast. And then when I found TheGradCafe things just got worse. I saw the pure competitive nature of getting into on of the top 10 MPA schools and just gave up. I had a strong GPA and undergraduate background, but no policy work experience. So with that thinking, I settled onto two schools.
Seton Hall University: SHU has a reputation of being one of the better schools in New Jersey, and after I did some research I became really interested in their Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Its local, so I could live at home (and thus save money on rent) and apparently its ranked pretty high up there. It is in a great location (close to NYC and DC) and the school itself is beautiful (though really small in my opinion). I applied for - and was accepted into - both the Masters in Asian Studies program and the Masters in Diplomacy and International Relations program. It was my first grad-school acceptance and I was thrilled! If I do both degrees, I cannot qualify for any scholarships, but I can get TA-ships. The TA-ships pay up to 12 credits worth of tuition, which is good. Each degree itself is about 39 credits, but if I got both degrees I could complete it after 60 credits. Each credit for Seton Hall's grad program is 1000 dollars. So ultimately, it would be a 3 year, 60K program. If I somehow managed to get a TA-ship for every semester it would be completely free (as I would live at home) but that seems unlikely.
University of British Columbia: When I told my professors that I was considering going to grad school for Asian Studies or Political Science, one of them mentioned UBC. He said it was a great school with a fantastic reputation - and I checked it out. It looks beautiful, and apparently its one of the top research universities in the world! And its in a major city (which I love!). When I mentioned it to two other professors I trust, both told me that its a great school that they love and that both have worked there in the past! One professor did a guest professorship there for a year, and the other did something there ( I can't remember if he taught or did research, whoops). With such great recommendations, how could I not apply to the program. I applied for their Masters in Asian Pacific Policy Studies. Essentially it combines Political Science/Policy Studies with Asian Studies. So while it is not a MPA, its pretty damn close. And I love its focus on Asia. It is ALL about North America-Asian relations. For Canadian students it costs (no lie) around $4400 A YEAR. For international students (meaning my American ass) its about $7500 a year. But they give out a scholarship to every international student worth about $3000 to help cover the difference. I think that is extremely generous of them. There are opportunities for other scholarships but they don't tell us much about them. In a perfect world I would get enough money to pay for all my tuition, but even if I'm stuck paying the hole $5000 I'm okay with it.
The program is designed to be finished in 1-year, and about 1/3 of students finish in that time. Another 3rd take an half a year. I think if you are dong a practicum (internship/work experience) or a complex thesis or field work its hard to finish in 1 year. If you're doing a Thesis its probably easier because you just cram it in (and die) with all your other course work. As of right now, I am going to do a practicum because I think its the smart thing for me to do. For one, my degree will be Canadian. I don't think this matters really, especially because UBC is such a great school overall, but I feel like there's going to be at least one loser out there who's going to look down on my resume and reject me because of where my degree is coming from. Second, I don't have any policy work experience. All my work with policy and asian studies has been academic. I've only been out of school for 2 months (undergrad), and when I was living in Tokyo I couldn't afford to do an internship AND work my English teaching job. So a practicum gives me a good working experience background ( I think so anyway ). This gives me the ability to back up my degree with work experience when it comes to snagging a job. Third and finally, I do not want a PhD anytime soon, and that's what a Thesis helps build up to.
One of the issues/strengths with MAAPPS at UBC is that you have to pick a 'stream' to help guide you. They are "Economy and Social Change", "Gender and Development", "Security", "Governance and Human Rights", and "Media". In a perfect world, I would erase "economy" and just do "social change". That's what I love studying - social changes and pop culture. I'm HUGE into Japanese modern society like Yakuza, Enjo Kosai, sex drugs and rock n' roll. You know, the cool stuff But I also love security and human rights. Its going to be a tough choice. I think on my resume I hinted I wanted to do gender, but I'm not sure if I want to spend another year studying feminism.
Ultimately If I haven't made myself clear, I am so excited about getting into UBC. It was my top choice of the two, and I love that it is in a big city in a foreign country (I did spend the last 2 years of undergrad in Tokyo, after all). Even though I only found out 2 days ago, I am already day dreaming about living in Vancouver. I haven't formally accepted yet, but I can't think of any reason why I would turn it down. Even if I get no money what-so-ever, the Graduate Student Stafford loan would cover everything (tuition + housing), so I know I can afford it. I'm trying to find a job now (will not be telling them I'm leaving in six months haha) so I can start saving future-rent money. I had an amazing interview somewhere, and they said they'd get back to me in 2 weeks. Its been 12 days. ANYWAY: I'm just really excited that I got into UBC. I was told that they only accept 20 students a year and get about 80-100 applicants, so I'm feeling pretty strong. But I'm also worried.
Worried beause I have a lot of... bonuses on my resume that might make me look better that I actually am.
1 ) The program prefers people with Asian studies experience and language ability, and I lived in Tokyo for two years. On an application, that gives me a big bonus, and they probably assume I'm much better at Japanese then I actually am (I'm horrible).
2 ) I wrote a thesis on feminism and female agency in Japan and the United States for my last semester as an undergrad, and I wrote about it in my personal statement. One of their 'themes' is "Gender and Development" so any gender professor who read my stuff would have liked me, but I do not plan on doing Gender as my theme.
3 ) I met the Graduate Director for the program at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Not only was I the only American in the room, but I was the only one who spoke fluent English so he and I had a nice conversation. I'm sure this didn't hurt my chances.
4 ) One of the Professors who wrote my letter of rec worked at UBC as a visiting scholar for over a year.
Part of me is a little worried I am not cut out for graduate work and they think I'm a better student then I actually am: but the worst that can happen is I fail (oh god!). I have faith in my abilities, but I'm not sure if I have faith in their faith of my abilities.
Thank You for reading my blog entries. I only wrote a few, but they were always helpful for me in getting my thoughts out. Its really been a great experience. And if you take any advice from any of my entries, it should be this: Take everything said on this forum with a grain of salt. Just because someone appears to be Buddah himself or the perfect candidate doesn't mean they're getting in and you're getting rejected. Just because people are touting GRE's like their the end-all of all application killers doesn't mean they always matter or you need to study for 4 years. Just breath. Just relax. And apply.
If anyone has any questions, or has been Waitlisted at Seton Hall, please let me know. I haven't rejected Seton Hall yet just in case something bad happens, but if you're wait listed PM me and we'll see if I can back out for you.
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