I'm so excited to tell you all about the wonderful time I had visiting my new school's campus last week. My one year anniversary was Tuesday, and that night (after an incredible day together, of course), my husband and I left LA on a redeye for Newark. We were there for about four days, and it was... an incredible experience. Unforgettable, really. We met with current graduate students who could not have been more friendly, fun, hospitable, and informative if they tried, and (squeal) we met my POI. The meeting with my POI and one of his PhD students was so much fun, almost like being at a stand up comedy show or something. I can't wait to work with these fine people for the next several years!
In addition to meeting current faculty and students, we also went apartment hunting. We accomplished our hunting in just a few hours, many thanks to the last minute car we rented and to finding basically the paradise of apartments at the end of what was several otherwise discouraging hours of looking. The apartment complex is lovely and just a short walk from White Clay Creek (pictures below!), Newark's Main Street which is the social hub of the city, and Old College, where the art history department and my classes are housed. There's also a university shuttle that stops right at the complex, which will be a godsend in the winter (and sleepy mornings). They told us that they're considering building a dog park. This was surprising because... what apartment complex builds dog parks? We've always wanted a puppy but never considered getting one in our current living situation... but the apartment complex we found is lush and green and pet friendly and I can think of all these great places our little puppy would love running around and playing. So, we might end up adopting a puppy sometime in our tenure here. (I know this is sort of irrelevant but the thought of a cute little puppy running around the greenery of our apartment complex makes me really happy ) Unfortunately, we weren't able to leave with a signed lease or a deposit down (which we were hoping to), but they promised to follow up with us when a unit becomes available in our timeframe -- and they've already been in touch twice! Very reassuring.
One of our nights there, we attended a student production of the Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber's version). It was phenomenal! We also got to try a bunch of local coffee shops (I've now picked out two that I know I'll be frequenting), restaurants, and went to a restaurant that makes its own gelato (which was thisclose to being as good as Italy's).
Edit to say that: I spent the entire trip thinking that the UDel Blue Hen was actually the Road Runner from Looney Tunes. I can't shake it. The Blue Hen looks just like him to me. It's endearing (and hilarious). Meep meep.
Unbeknownst to us, we visited UDel during "Decision Days," the decision weekend for undergraduates, and thus we constantly ran into/walked along with tours full of bright-eyed freshmen and impressed parents. It was a somewhat poignant reminder that I'm separated from this phase of life now and that over the next 2 (or several, if I'm lucky enough to get into the PhD program), I'll be learning how to teach these "youngins." One exciting moment (as if all moments on this trip weren't exciting for my very easily excited self) was when someone told me that as a TA, I'd probably be explaining to undergrads why they got something wrong on their test, and my mind did a mental "Success Kid" meme. How cool is that? I love explaining art history to people, and so to actually be in a position where I can explain it to undergraduates for the betterment of their (grades, personal selves, knowledge, etc.) is something that I'm really looking forward to doing. I've heard that TAing for my department is excellent preparation for when one moves on into academic teaching positions. The undergraduates I've encountered seemed to be consistently and genuinely excited about and involved with their university, but I think that my level of excitement to be here for graduate student exceeds all of their enthusiasm combined! (Yes, I am the superwoman of being excited about Delaware!! I can't help it! Sorry!)
Delaware is basically heaven. I'm thrilled about the program and my fellow students. I hope that I can keep up with them -- they're all incredibly smart, successful, well respected young scholars and I admit that it's a little bit intimidating to be surrounded by such prestigious students! But hearing of all their successes (mostly via the department's newsletter), moreso than being intimidating, had me beaming with pride that I'll soon be part of such a stellar department, and under the guidance of a faculty that seems to genuinely care about their students' academic successes and growth. I haven't even begun, and already my heart is tethered to this place. I can't imagine going anywhere else for my MA, or for my PhD, and I'm hoping that the department and I will have a mutual excitement about each other so I don't have to leave in two years! Seriously. After this incredible week, there is no other program for me. No other program that I'd rather study at. Not Yale, not Virginia, not Maryland, not Columbia. This is it. I know that over the next two years I'll grow exponentially as a scholar and I can't imagine not doing my PhD here with this POI. I know I'm jumping the gun a little already thinking about my PhD when I haven't completed the MA yet, but -- I applied to the PhD program in the first place, anyway. I knew from the start that I could see myself being here for five years, and I now I know it like the back of my hand. I can't wait to start learning, researching, writing, and forging new relationships in the Fall!
Here's a few pictures from our trip!
Old College @ the University of Delaware. Old College is the oldest building on campus. This is where the art history department is housed. Surprisingly, even with all the tours going on, no one was ever in front of this building so we consistently got the best shots! Win.
Inside Old College.
Old College also has an impressive art gallery.
This is White Clay Creek, a short walk from our (hopefully) new home!
And this is one of our wedding photos, because really the best part of last week was that I've been married to an amazing man for a year already! Best year of my life.
Post-op update at present is the best possible news for a cancer diagnosis - the lumpectomy went VERY well, they found NO visual signs of cancer in any of the lymph nodes or in the surrounding tissue, although the pathologist will have to confirm that. I will go in Thursday for those results and then we will talk radiation. Chemo is currently not on the table yet. I have Vicoden. We are Good To Go. Hang in there - we got this.
Also, just 'cause I was feeling feisty and oh! so badass, so, I made my sister (drove down to be with me since DH had to work) take me to the local coffee shop for a grande soy latte, we swung by to pick up the girls from daycare, and then we all headed over to the local specialty cafe for gelato prior to coming home. Just to let the cancer know who it was trying to screw with. Now I will be good and go lie down, because it actually does hurt like a mother...
Unfortunately, we got home too late to gt a hold of anyone at UNC-G, but I left a message on Dr. Dowd's phone to call me at her convenience. I just don't want to email this one, it seems bad form.
So, given that I have the Big C and don't have a timeline or prognosis, and that it is so close to April 15, I decided that it would be unethical for me not to call the director of English Graduate Studies, tell her what is going on and that I can't say for sure what I will and will not be able to do, and give her the chance to offer my slot to someone who isn't dealing with the Unknown. It was definitely NOT an easy phone call to make, and NOT a phone call I would ever wish on anyone.
That said, when I told her my situation, she was so wonderful. First she was adamant that no, they were not taking back their offer. She said I can certainly defer for a year if I need to, and also that she is going to talk with some other people and find out if there is any other form of alternative funding available so I don't have to count on the TAship for the tuition waiver for the first year; I might be able to take classes and work in the writing lab instyead, then TA the following year, for example - she doesn't know, but she is going to explore options and get back to me. I felt so relieved to hear that this is not unusual, that they do make exceptions, and that there are precedents for this (See? Always ASK!) It would have been so much easier for her to just say "Well, thanks for the heads-up, appreciate you letting us know before April 15, apply again when you're clean". Instead, I was re-affirmed all over again a.) that I certainly chose the right program to work in and b.) I'm worth it.
SO...Cancer, yes. Cancellation of PhD - NO WAY!
I am a really, really lucky girl, all things considering. OK...off to sleep off the next round of Vicoden.
So...I got news on my funding package. And SUCH news on funding. I am just sitting on Cloud 9 here. After an application year in which I couldn't get a parking ticket validated, to be so generously treated is just....it's amazing. I've gone from Zero to Hero in a year, apparently. Oh, the programs that rejected me last year have again rejected me this year - or at least I think they have, one is still out but I'm not holding my breath. Besides which, I doubt very much anything they would offer me would compare to the offer I have been presented with. Which is (drum-roll, please.....):
NOT a TA ship (1:1 load the first year, 1:2 load the next three years) with my choice of time slots to teach in.
NOT a full, out-of-state tuition waiver good for four years.
NOT a teaching stipend of $14,000, going to $18,500 after the first two years.
NOT health insurance coverage.
and NOT a university-wide excellence fellowship nomination.
ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :lol:
I kid you not. Pinch me, because I am absolutely dreaming over here. It looks too good to be true - but I double- and triple - checked on the whole thing, and this is no mistake or exaggeration - it's my fully - funded plus some package. Because finally, I found a department that wants me as badly as I want to be there. So, this is what it's really like! Wow. Just...wow.
It took me about a minute to sign that Letter of Intent. I'm officially a doctoral student!
As promised, I WILL post my statement of purpose drafts and final edition, with commentary, when I get the chance. And I am happy to answer any questions I can about this process...after two years, I think I do have something to offer by way of insight into what it takes (and how much of this is really just Right Time, Right Place).