Saturday, April 27, 2013

Schooling and Madison

I really hated school last semester. It took me a long time to get into a groove, I missed my baby, and it felt very disconnected from reality/ivory towerish and that bothered me. I contemplated ways I could drop out of grad school... but we didn't really have any other great options so I kept going. This semester has been so. much. better. I think it may have to do with the confidence from a very successful first semester, or maybe that Lulah is not so dependent on me, or that my classes are more interesting (Global Feminisms, anyone?) I'm buoyed up even more because I scored a fellowship for next year (FLAS, yay!) and so I will get paid more than if I was TAing and I don't have to work, just go to school, like this year. I'm getting to know my advisor better, and she has been really understanding about my family situation and encouraging me to figure out what will work best for us (she also had a daughter in grad school). It doesn't hurt that we get to spend 6 weeks in Morocco, mostly paid for.

Besides the two very long final papers looming in my immediate future (as I write this, one has been turned in and one is almost finished), this semester has been so manageable as far as workload, once I reduced my class count to three. Arabic has been ridiculously easy (our teacher is kind of a slacker) which kind of bothers me because I'm not learning as much but has allowed me to focus on my seminars. I am actually thinking grad school student life is not so bad as it seemed last semester, if you can live on the stipend check (we can) and you do the bare minimum (which I say is what I'm doing, but actually I'm probably doing a bit more, though  not as much as my classmates certainly). My cohort has a really cool friendly vibe and now that I know everyone a bit more I do not feel quite as weird and freakish as I did when I first started. We live in the magical kingdom of Eagle Heights and I think we'd be hard-pressed to find another community as diverse and nifty as this (our newest Swedish friends are a radical leftist professor/psychologist couple who dig communal living and Judith Butler). Atticus  and Tallulah play on the playground with kids from Bangladesh, Taiwan, Japan, Libya, Chile, Spain, Turkey, Ghana, Jordan, Sweden, Germany, China... and those are just the people we've talked to! I regularly get to speak Arabic on the bus with some random person who initiates a conversation while I am deeply immersed in Al-Kitaab -- "why on earth are you learning Arabic?" is usually how it begins. We hear multiple languages on a daily basis and are trying our best to be good neighbors to the two Pakistani computer science students who I am sure are kept up at night with our (sometimes) shrieking children but are super gracious and say they are heavy sleepers and can't hear them at all.

And you really can't beat the location of living in a nature preserve on a gorgeous lake with well-kept paths but only a 15 minute bike ride along the lakeshore to a vibrant city center with a multitude of delicious restaurants and one of the biggest farmers' markets in the US. Everything we need is walking distance... we are a mile from Whole Foods and Target, 3/4 mile from FUS and the pediatrician, and preschool is up the hill. We knew Madison would be a great place to live, but did not realize just how much we would find our place here.


  1. Sounds awesome. I loved Charlottesville, and I would have loved it even better had we lived in the run-down, moldy grad school housing. Megan and Gavin would have spent all day playing outside with the other kids, who seemed to be either Chinese or Mormon. Kind of like our neighborhood now.

  2. FLASes are awesome. Jeremy had one a few times during his PhD, for Turkish. I'm assuming yours is Arabic? Glad things are looking up.