The weeks since my trip out west have been exhausting, to say the least. I returned to my usual sleep-deprived schedule due to a nice case of jet-lag (only 2 hours of sleep my first night back). By Tuesday afternoon, I could already see how daunting my next few weeks would be, as homework and exams began to pile up. Not to mention, procrastination had gotten the best of me in regards to my online class; 2 weeks to finish 4 assignments, 2 exams and a 6-page paper. At least amidst all this stress came some good news.. and maybe a tad bit more stress..
My main reason for the roadtrip out west, aside from getting out of the shithole that is Muncie, was to visit graduate school programs and help set myself apart from other applicants. As mentioned before, my visits at my top 2 choices (UCSB and Utah) went well, but the only official word I had received at this point was my acceptance letter from Utah and denied admissions at Wisconsin-Madison. On my way back to Muncie from the airport Monday night, I opened an email on my phone from a professor at U of South Carolina. She went on to describe some micro-meteorological research she was working on that she thought I'd be perfect for as a research assistant. I was shocked, as I had spent the last week trying to woo my top 2 programs, completely forgetting about the other 3 programs on my list. I replied showing some general interest in the work and was met with an admissions letter and assistantship offer 2 days later. I was elated! It was an incredible relief to know that, no matter the other news I may receive concerning my applications, I was getting funding somewhere. The offer came with a tuition waiver and $11,000 stipend for 9 months; just the kind of offer I was counting on. The program at USC is almost a mirror image of Utah's program, with just a few more faculty that make the program both more diverse and prestigious. Now I just had to play the waiting game with the other schools.. well, mostly waiting, as I gave Utah a little push by letting them know I already had an offer.
My first weekend back was spent at home in Elkhart/South Bend, instead of staggering through the streets of Muncie in the white trash bash that is Muncie Gras. My friend John was visiting from Wisconsin and I hadn't seen the rest of my friends since January. I also had countless tasks that I needed to accomplish and knew none of them would be possible with a raging hangover. I spent Friday night surrounded with old friends (and the unfortunate guests of one of those friends) in Tony's garage. Around 9:00, I got a phone call from a random number with an unfamiliar area code. The music was blaring and an intense game of flip cup was in progress, so I stepped out to the backyard to take the call. I'm very glad I did. It was the Graduate Program Director at San Diego State calling to tell me that they had just gotten out of their meetings and would like to offer me a funded position. Needless to say, I was kind of speechless. Not only because of it was my second offer of the week, but also that I was totally unprepared to get that kind of news in that setting. Nonetheless, I was excited to now officially have choices in programs.
The rest of my weekend was spent relaxing, playing the usual Call of Duty with Jake, and catching up on some school work. I didn't leave my Mom's until almost 10:00pm Sunday night because I just wasn't ready to get back to another week crammed full of work. Like the rest of us students this close to the end of the semester, I pulled my chin up and pressed forward. The drive back to Muncie was one of the best I've had. My iPod was on shuffle, constantly putting out good song after good song, and the sky around me was constantly lit up by intense cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. I managed to stay dry until I got to the Muncie exit. Thanks Mother Nature, I was already depressed enough to be back here without you pissing all over my welcome back.