Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grad School: NYC, Chicago, and the Future

I'm feeling rather melancholy this Sunday morning as I'm thinking about the homework I should be doing if I could be bothered to drag myself the 5 feet out of bed to where my radio book is sitting on the floor. That final is all that stands between me and graduation. Graduation. Again.

The 17th grade is to be my last year of school. I love learning and always will, but I'm ready for Real Life now. One full year of information-packed graduate school was enough to fill my brain with things I didn't know I desperately needed to learn. Still, it's going to feel weird to have no papers to write, no tests to study for. I'm 22 years old. School has been all I've ever known.

I'm generally a quiet person who is extremely attached to my closest friends. Moving 4 states away to a place where I know nobody has been a huge test for me. In many ways it worked, in some ways it didn't. I did the whole internship in NYC like everybody else and I'm still not sure if I'd call it a success or not. Mostly, I'm disappointed in myself that I was mentally and physically unable to keep commuting the whole time, and switched to telecommuting halfway through.

I didn't see much of New York City. I've said it before, being very grounded in the landlocked Midwest made me prideful about where I come from, so I had a horrible outlook on NYC from the start. I interned there and that was it. I didn't go to Central Park, I only came within a far sight of the State of Liberty, and I never made it to the Ground Zero Memorial (which is what I'm most upset about. I wanted to see that. Every American should.). But honestly... I don't really care about the place. I wasn't happy there. NYC has the most opportunities in the magazine industry. That's where I should be working if I want to go far in my field. But it's not what I want. I want my real friends back and my family and the place I feel familiar and most comfortable with. And that's Chicago.

I've had this city-country-suburban struggle my entire life. I live in the burbs but am close enough to Chicago to go there whenever I want, and half my family lives 3 hours away in small town farmland Wisconsin, where I've spent a lot of time every school break. I'm as at home at the Metropolitan Opera House as I am drinking a beer around a bonfire while listening to a Sunday NASCAR race. And that's really confusing, but I like it that way. I'm not willing to give up my city or country side, and my suburban location makes that possible.

This is the last picture I took in NYC, out the window of my hostel on 14th Street. It was an unusually warm day and all the trees were beginning to bud and flower. This is how I'm preferring to remember the city. Maybe I'll get back there one day, maybe not.

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