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 : )