I remember the moment I received my offer letter pretty clearly, and fortunately for my twitter followers, they probably do as well.
Well, let me backtrack a little bit. I won’t go into detail about the application process. (If you haven’t figured out by now that this blog will be about my graduate school adventures, you either skipped the ‘About’ section entirely or have poor reading comprehension skills.) I also won’t go into detail about the months and months I spent agonising after submitting my application. Actually, I’m lying about the months and months part. I got accepted to the program less than a month after I had applied and before either of my references had been sent in, but that’s actually an important detail of the story I’m about to tell.
So anyway, during the nearly four weeks I had to wait to hear whether I was accepted to the program, I convinced myself pretty easily that I wasn’t going to get in. Not to be humble, but mostly because nothing has gone my way at all since I graduated from college almost two years ago, so why would it now? Plus, the Social Anthropology program was my top choice (out of, well, only two, but to be fair, I had considered up to six different schools). If I had a dollar for every time someone said I chose this program because it’ll put me closer to Manchester United, I’d probably have enough money (converted to pounds) to actually buy a ticket to a game at Old Trafford, which I probably won’t have otherwise. But I digress. Despite a few people telling me it didn’t have enough “name recognition” internationally and my dad’s less-than-thrilled attitude regarding his beloved daughter incurring a mountain of debt, I was still set on Manchester.
The first odd thing to happen was that I noticed my references were taken off my to-do list in the application tracking system provided by the university. My point of contact informed me that this was not because my references had magically appeared (I knew they hadn’t — at least one probably still hasn’t been written yet), but because all they needed at that point was the contact information for the references, which I provided in the application. “That’s fantastic,” I said to myself, simultaneously feeling a bit peeved because I had spent my valuable free time trying to get my references sent in via the powers of Gmail and a couple of sappy “thank you-now-please-send-my-references” cards.
The second odd thing was that a couple of nights before I was accepted (little did I know at the time), I was obsessively checking the application tracking page as I’m wont to do, and I noticed there was an option to accept/decline unconditional offer. I didn’t actually click it — in fact, I exited the website pretty quickly at that point, knowing that I would obsess over it for hours. (I still did.) Was it a fluke? Surely they wouldn’t show my acceptance on the website before I got the official offer letter via email? And all these memories of when my alma mater accidentally sent over 2000 students acceptance letter emails by accident replayed in my head and I figured even if I got the email I’d probably somehow convince myself it was a mistake.
We reach the morning of Wednesday, 16 March 2011. I have this habit of checking all my emails and messages when I first wake up in the morning, even knowing that my ability to understand anything before 12:00PM is slim at best. I had a newsletter from UoM that I was trying to read from my phone (bad idea). I noticed there was a section that said ‘introduction to the university’ or something like that and got a little panicky. Could this be? But no, still no email acceptance letter.
Of course, it would come while I’m driving to work. I promise, I don’t really talk or text while I’m driving. But I will admit that when I get stuck at virtually every single light on Wisconsin Ave in the morning, I will check my phone. It blinked. Right as I’m driving up to where I take a left turn in Bethesda off Wisconsin, I see the acceptance letter. The woman didn’t even put a subject title, so I saw the text immediately welcoming me to the university.
I started hyperventilating, which I do rather easily as well (anxiety disorders and all that), started shaking so badly my foot was tapping the brake at random and dangerous intervals, immediately pulled up UberSocial to tweet that I was hyperventilating, and went on to almost hit another car while making the left turn. Don’t worry — I made it out unscathed after recovering my senses a little bit. I managed to park (really badly), run up to my office, and call my dad. Who then didn’t pick up. Kind of a buzzkill. And then I called my mom, who was happy for me but kind of sad at the same time because, “Oh… England” before finally getting in touch with my dad who also acted excited but wasn’t really that thrilled because, “Oh… we need to talk about this” but fortunately the congratulations pouring in via twitter and facebook (and text message thanks to facebook) were enough to keep the euphoria in full force. Luckily my boss came in late and I was able to pretend to not be in a good mood (which would have been very unusual for me at the office) because, well, I’m not quite going down that road just yet.
I accepted my offer a couple of days later, and then decided to start this blog. And here we are. I can’t promise that not all my entries will be less long-winded, but I can promise they will probably bore you equally if not more.