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  1. I am comfortable with the department itself, and would be happy to go there. What I cannot tell, without having spent time as a student in the department, is what the faculty and students are really like, what the atmosphere is like, etc. and those are the things that most significantly affected my mental health during my MA program. So, I am not relying on emotional support to feel good about the decision, but rather have it as a kind of safety net if something doesn't jive with me there. But you're certainly right that I should let facts about the department determine how well I feel about my decision. Right. That's my current plan. I know the drives will be unproductive, all things considered, but I don't think they won't serve any function at all.
  2. My SO is going to be admitted into Medical School at UF, so living in Ocala will both give us both a commute, but her's will be half as long as mine. If we don't go to Ocala, then we will be separate for the entirety of our respective programs. One benefit of trying the halfway point together, I think, is if it is necessary we can just relocate to our respective cities (Gainesville for her and Tampa for me) if things don't work out with the commutes after about a year. She is currently in Gainesville right now, but she'll have to relocate anyway at the end of her lease. That's a good point. My SO has to move soon, anyway, and the question is whether we move together to Ocala, or she stays in Gainesville and I relocate to Tampa. We don't currently live together, but have in the past when I was in gradschool in Gainesville. In my MA program, I was in the department between 3 and 5 times a week, depending on my course load and teaching obligations. I intend to plan for being there five days a week, but it will be nice if the department could reduce it down to 3 or 4 days. It would help a lot, but I don't think there is any guarantee. Having lectures on hand for drives could be useful. I have also hear of folks having an app on their smartphone read them PDF text; it's not perfect, but it could help.
  3. @accidental_philologist & @Psygeek & others, Thank you for your replies and advice. I don't know if this would change your responses to my questions at all, but I have already completed my MA in philosophy, so I have some experience with gradschool right now. That isn't to say a PhD would be an identical experience of course, but I am not moving from undergrad to graduate school. I will add that I didn't commute to campus then. One thing I worry about is, based on some experiences I had in my MA program, if the department isn't right for me, living alone might make things a lot worse for me. I had a rough year my first year of grad school, and I think being able to maintain a home with my SO will be a good buffer for those kinds of experiences. Maybe this is naive. I am still pretty concerned about the time I will have to spend commuting and the wear and tear on my car, of course. I'm just not convinced it will ruin my ability to adequately socialize with my peers there given my previous experiences.
  4. Does anyone have experience commuting to campus while in grad school? Right now, I am considering settling in a town (Ocala, FL) about 95 minutes or so away from the campus where I will attend classes (USF). This is partially because I would prefer to live with my SO (and thereby not live alone or with strangers). It also makes rent considerably cheaper as compared to attempting to settle in a large college town (Tampa, FL). The drive is about 90 miles, all highway. I'd plan on putting the money I save in rent towards gas and regular maintenance on the car to keep it in good working order. What are some concerns I should be taking into account that I may not have in mind right now? I don't really mind driving or commutes, but maybe I am not anticipating how I will feel after a year of doing this. I'm also worried that, if my car breaks down for some unforeseen reason, I will be in some hot water that I might otherwise avoid. On the other hand, it may be a good opportunity for me to develop the kind of adult discipline that comes with having a less flexible schedule; I think I could use that. While I haven't completely settled on attending USF, I'd like to try and hammer this out before I do.
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