Friday, May 27, 2011

Looking to the future

A couple of months ago I was certain that I would not get into any of the grad schools I was applying to. I fucked around a lot in my first two years and while I did pull my marks up they still weren’t that great. I had resolved myself to taking a couple years off to go travel and teach English abroad and do a bunch of other things to make money before returning to school and hoping those things would make my application more appealing when I did re-apply. I was being realistic- I had a back-up plan. Turns out I didn’t need one.
            I, somehow, got into the three schools I applied to: The University of Oslo (Norway), Aarhus University (Denmark), and the University of Iceland. Oslo has always been my number one choice and it is where I will be going in August. The other schools look fantastic but Oslo’s program just seems to be the best fit. Iceland was Medieval Icelandic Literature: while I’m super interested in the literature I want to focus more on the Vikings and their history and what the sagas and literature can tell us about them and what the medieval Icelanders thought about their cultural Viking history then studying the literature itself in-depth. Aarhus’s Viking Studies program doesn’t officially exist but is made up of a combination of a couple different faculties and a partner institution. I would have to make up my own program between all of them and perhaps even take some undergrad courses where the assignments would be tailored for me. While developing a custom program for myself has some appeal I think it would mostly be a major pain and I’d rather not deal with the politics of several faculties. So at Oslo I’ll be in the Nordic Viking and Medieval Culture Masters which is under the Medieval Studies (middelalderstudier) program. It’s interdisciplinary (the only right way to study the Viking/Middle Ages) and has some very interesting looking courses. Runes ftw!
I’m ecstatic about getting in and very very excited to go but there’s always the self-doubt. What if I’m not ready? What if I can’t handle it? People (mostly Wardy) have told me I’ve grown over the past couple years, that I’ve matured and that they’re proud of me. But have I really? What do I do differently? (besides rarely partying)?  I still wait last minute to do assignments, in my last term I still skipped a number of the readings for each class, I still slept through some ridiculously early-morning classes. Even in my last term I handed in an assignment a week late; first because I needed to get another more important assignment done and then because I had no motivation to do it, and then the paper I did eventually submit was admittedly way sub-par. The way I approach and complete assignments has not changed yet I manage to get higher marks on them. It’s possible I have become a better writer or am now able to make more poignant connections and conclusions but I’m not sure I have made the necessary personal changes necessary to excel in the academic world.   
I’m also going to have to make a painful trip to the bank soon and get a loan in order to afford living in Oslo and that has prompted numerous questions from the parents. Namely- “you will be able to get a job after this right?” I’m well aware of the crappy job market in academia so I bend the truth a little. This fact is something I’m much less concerned about at the moment then the other worries because it’s something I’ll deal with when the time comes and there’s nothing that makes me want to jump into a career post-graduation anyway.    
I should go work on my presentation for a conference next week. See, I’m even working on my dream topic and I’m still not motivated.
Tl;dr- whiny self-doubt about school. Blah.

But then every once and a while I'll just be sitting and remember that OMFG I'M GOING BACK TO OSLO IN AUGUST!!! I GOT IN. HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT FAEN! and that overwhelms the crappy doubt issues. :D


  1. Blogger ate my comment so let me try again: I remember thinking the exact same thing when I was planning to head to the UK. I haven't regretted it - and I don't think you will either. I would recommend studying abroad to anyone who can get accepted. I think it would be amazing to study Vikings in Norway, right in the middle of their descendant culture. What better way to begin a career in academia? Congratulations!!

  2. I'm simultaneously nervous and excited for you. I know how petrified I would be if it was me heading overseas this year. One day I'm 100% sure I want to go and the next day I think it's not a good idea. But I think (debt or no) it's more than worthwhile and I can't see you ever regretting it. Plus, it will be SO much more tailored to you and what you're interested in. I can't wait to hear all about it!