Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things I like, and some things I don't.

I love my MFA program. I am really very happy with my professors, my fellow classmates, and the atmosphere of the program in general. I love doing the work, the readings, the writing--being at UNH has shown me that yes, this is absolutely the right path for me. Even though I didn't really have much to say in workshop this past week, I definitely am going to make up for that next week, because I'll be able to read my classmates' work ahead of time and prepare good, well-thought out responses. I love being immersed in the "writing culture" and getting to know other people who actually love writing as much as I do.

As much as I love the program, the atmosphere, and everything with my MFA program, I am definitely having a really hard time adjusting to the area of the country I've chosen to move to. Somersworth, NH is really in the middle of nowhere and totally rural. It takes a lot of adjustment to get used to a small town after living two years in a small city. I miss the diverse foods, the option to go out somewhere after midnight and that something will be open. I miss people walking around on functioning sidewalks, and I really miss falling asleep to the constant whirr of highway traffic. I think I feel more free, more open, and more confident when I am in a city. The rural life has left me feeling restricted, trapped and kind of sad. What kills me the most is that I knew I would hate it before I moved here. I keep trying to find the good: there's a beach a half-hour away, the mountains are an hour away, Boston is an hour and a half away, but these things never seem like enough.

Which brings me to another thing I'm having trouble with: I'm really poor. I noticed this when I arrived in workshop and I didn't have my pages stapled. I don't know where I put my stapler in the move, and I've looked for it everywhere. The stapler may have fallen onto the highway during the move, but I cannot find it. Also, I showed up in my novel-writing class with an assignment printed in blue ink because I'd forgotten to put black printer ink on the list of back-to-school items. People might have to get used to it for a while, because I can't afford more black ink.

But, I am really happy with my work, my classmates' work, and I am totally dedicated to the UNH program. I am willing to suffer through the awful rural aspects of the small-town for three years because I think the MFA program at UNH is pretty awesome. I think that says something about the program and how happy and lucky I feel to be a part of something that, in my opinion, totally rocks dude. I'm just curious though: how do you feel about the place that you moved to for the MFA? Does it really matter, and should it matter?


  1. Being poor = uber frustrating. Please know you're not alone. I've learned to stay away from Target until my $$ situation improves.

    I can't imagine what it's like leaving a city for, well, anywhere in NH haha. Who knows though, maybe the move will actually reinvigorate your writing--there are plenty of comparisons to be made.

    I grew not too far from Boston and it is a lovely place to visit. It'll satisfy your city fix when need be!

  2. This made me laugh, but I'm laughing with you thinking back to my undergrad days :) but I love the fact that you didn't go out and charge the stapler you just sucked it up. Start collecting paper clips I say!

  3. Katie, I always enjoy reading your blog posts.

    1. there's a free stapler at the front desk in the library :)

    2. Why do you live in Somersworth? Couldn't you find cheap housing in Durham, Dover or Newmarket, etc? Or is Somersworth really cheap?

  4. I think location is HUGE. It was one of the biggest factors for me when I was deciding where to apply. I wanted to be a in a big city, a small city (>20,000, MINIMUM). I'm at Ohio State, in Columbus, which is huge (~750,000, I think?).

    I love living here -- the food options, the diversity, the options of things to do, etc. -- but it has definitely taken a little bit of time to adjust. I'm from a small town (4,000 people) and went to college in another small town (8,000) people, and so it's weird to be in a place where I can't walk in certain areas after dark. Or where there's public transportation. I like it, though. I think the culture shock will be good for my writing.

  5. Yeah, I think everyone agrees about riding the culture shock. I guess also try to make the most out of how beautiful rural living can be. My big city can be a little ugly, even if it's ugly in a really strangely compelling way.

    And yeah, we're all pretty poor, huh.

  6. Oh, do I feel for you in your location woes... I had spent almost seven years living in the very same Columbus that Lindsay described (pop. >750K) before moving to State College, PA which is just a college town in the middle of nowhere. Very homogeneous, very isolated, very conservative, and I kind of *hate* it.

    I definitely miss the city a LOT, but I think in some ways it's been good for my writing. And certainly less distracting. And it's only two years. And it's made me very cognizant of considering location when applying to PhD programs and jobs. So it's not all bad.

    I guess my advice, as someone who's in the same spot, is just hang in there. Get out when you have the chance - weekend trips, holiday breaks, etc. Find other people who feel the same; there are quite a few people in the department here who like to vent together about how much we miss cities. And find the good things about it - here it's the biweekly farmer's market and the challenging hilly running trails and the view of small mountains and wild animals. And know it's only for a limited time :)

  7. Thank you for the wonderful advice, guys! I'm trying to find little things about New Hampshire that I like, and I actually am kind of happy that there are so many distractions for me, because I can confess to getting distracted easily.

    It's very good to know that there's a stapler in the library!

    Thanks guys, you've been very helpful.

  8. I'd love to live in NH. I admit I'm jealous. The lack of funding was the only thing that kept me from applying to the UNH program ... I've been wanting to hit that school since I was a teenage sophomore. But the money ... Crikey! Even as an undergrad ...

    I fear really missing autumn (as I know it) in Florida. The idea of New England still captivates me in so many ways. No place feels quite like home without crunchy leaves and a good, brisk wind now and then.

  9. In case of stapling emergency:

    1. Use the corner of an ID card to loosen a staple from the nearest bulletin board. Pull it out. Try not to mangle it.
    2. Shove the sharp ends through your stack of paper.
    3. Carefully fold the sharp ends toward the back page. Use your ID card to press them completely down.

  10. I grew up in a small town (~6,000), went to undergrad in a smallish college town (~23,000), lived in a largish city in the Czech Republic (~500,000) and a small city in Slovakia (~60,000), and now I'm at OSU in the oft-mentioned relatively big city of Columbus (~750,000), and I have to say that, given time, wonderful things revealed themselves about all of them. I tend to find that the relationships you cultivate in a place end up doing a lot to color the way you feel about the place itself. I have a feeling that your warm feelings about your program will slowly start to attach themselves to Somerworth for you. Just a hunch. I am thrilled to read that you are in love with your program. That bodes well for your future happiness there.


Related Posts with Thumbnails