I would be untruthful if I wrote that I had everything planned about what to do after I graduate from Arcadia University. There are other things that I wish to look into, such as working on obtaining my teaching license and maybe publishing my thesis once all of the kinks are ironed out. Most importantly, I hope to better my chances of finding a well-paying job. A goal that many in my age bracket share.
I find myself at a point in my life where I’m still trying to decide what I want to do and what will bring me the most joy. And I think that’s an ok place to be. As they say, the sky is the limit, and within these last few months, I’ve had a lot to think about. For starters, graduate school is truly a different kind of undertaking. It requires a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and the willingness to grow.
I don’t regret my decision to enroll at the university, and I still think the experience I have gained so far has been worthwhile. Taking a leap of faith was the best decision that I could make. I’ll admit there have been some challenges. Working full time and attending school full time can be overwhelming, but I’ve learned to manage my time and push through. Willingness, I think, is a big part of Arcadia’s MFA program.
Writing is a solitary activity for me, and one of the core assignments students must do in the program is critique each other’s work. To be willing to allow someone, peer or otherwise, to review a piece of work of mine is something that I’m still not accustomed to, even though this is my second year. It’s a challenge to open up that way and become vulnerable, allowing all of your work’s little mistakes and insecurities to be seen by those around you.
It was something to overcome in the first few months of the program, that’s for sure. But I’m glad I stuck with it, not just because it is required and I need to grade, but to prove to myself just a little bit that I do know what I’m doing when it comes to crafting a story or essay. That if I believe in myself and put in the effort, I can accomplish what I set out to do when I decided to start this two-year journey.
And the journey continues. I visited Edinburgh, Scotland, this past summer, a country I always wanted to visit but never thought I would get to. It’s such a different world there, and I surprise myself when I think of how nervous I was when preparing to travel. I was worried that I would be judged by skin color, and I was close to reaching out to my professor to ask him if it was safe for me. But what stood out was how diverse and welcoming Edinburgh was.
Presently, I’m knee deep in working on my thesis that’s due next year—an actual book inspired by and loosely based on the MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia. And though writing a book had been something I dreamed about, I don’t think I ever saw myself sitting down to write one. It has proved challenging, and there have been a lot of sleepless nights associated with it, revisions and the like. However, I can’t deny how excited I become each time I open my computer to work on it. I’m not sure how far I’ll take it once it’s completed, but it will be nice to have.
As I reflect on my experience at Arcadia so far, I don’t have many complaints. I still have a ways to go, even though May is just around the corner. There’s still a lot of writing to do, and I feel that there are more opportunities to explore, both at the University and outside of it, and I’m looking forward to whatever that journey brings.