Thursday, September 22, 2011

Arrrrrrrrgh, Grad School.

Dear Ashley,

Welcome to today's episode of "What Should I Do With My Life?" In today's episode, we'll examine the pros and cons of various Graduate Schools.

Princeton, Yale, Brown: All of them look like seriously good, seriously hard, and seriously expensive programs. My GRE score was not "high to very high" and I don't already speak three languages, so I think I won't even waste my time applying.

Dartmouth: unfortunately is just a Master's program. I may still apply, but at this point I think a Master's is just a waste of time. I don't want to teach high school, and adjuncts make less than no money, so I really need to go PhD or bust.

UMass Amherst: It's an MA/PhD program, so if I decide that I can't take it halfway through, I can still graduate with a Master's. I'll come out of it with a firm grasp of three languages, and likely be able to teach courses on any of them.
Con: I don't know what it costs, or what the chances of getting in/getting a scholarship are. I'll need to do more research.

Cornell: Looking at my list, I've just realized I never did the pros and cons for Cornell. Excuse me while I open a new tab...

...Pros: The program is SHORT. Their FAQ says generally two and a half years. That's half the time of most other programs. Huge pro.  Cons: Cornell is historically expensive and hard to get into. They accept maybe 6 people per year. My GRE scores weren't that good, but I guess I could try again. Also, I'd have to make Spanish my "primary language" because they want candidates to come into the program proficient in English and their primary language, because the program is so short, they won't have time to become proficient in more than one while they're in it.

Finally, Bing. Pros: The Little Russian Lady is there. I love her; she was my favorite professor at Bing. Cons: It's Bing. It's the 9th cloudiest city in the country and the single most dreary place in the world.

I'm going to apply to Bing, (because another pro is that I think I have the best shot of getting in there) UMass, and Cornell. Any insight you have would be greatly appreciated.

And now, to break up the monotony of grad school woes, a picture! Nothing nearly so exciting as Budapest, but it's the only thing besides drinks that I bought at the Irish Festival. It's a gorgeous and soooo soft merino wool that I've started spinning.

The festival was fun, but was a lot smaller than I imagined. We got there too late to dance- we missed the tutorial and everyone else there comes regularly and was really good- so we just watched. It was still fun. The next day Ben went to his workshop with Billy McComiskey, one of the few American button accordion players to win the All-Ireland Competition. He loved it, and hopefully will be taking lessons with Billy this winter, since Billy lives in Baltimore, not too far away. 

While he was doing that I listened to some local bands that were really good, and then Saturday night was the big concert with Billy, an amazing fiddle player, and a pianist as the main attraction, and a really fun local band that opened for them. All in all, it was a successful birthday weekend :)

Now I think I'll go try to write that scene with Glen. I really want to get query letters out for Rain, and work to revise some other stuff before NaNoProper in November. I feel like I should since I have an abundance of free time right now.

Can't wait to see more of Budapest,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Its hard to read in Hungarian!

So first things first…
Blogger is now in Hungarian and I have yet to find the button to switch it back into English so It's become quite difficult to get to the edit/new post screen. I also can’t use spell check because everything is spelt wrong – good news if I right click I learn the Hungarian word for whatever I’m trying to say.
Now I’m going to give you a tour of Budapest!

This is Central European University. Well this is the main entrance, building 9 on Nador street. It’s called monument building because when you walk inside you’re in a circular room of statues. I don’t have a picture of them yet, but I’m pretty sure that they’re the muses. The school actuall goes on for half a city block, but it looks, from the outside at least, much the same as this first building.
This is the St. Steven’s Basilica.

To get to the top and see the view you can take the elevator or you can walk up 302 stairs which I thought sounded like not so many – it is, many.
But this is the view so, in the end, it was way worth it!

Budapest is separated by the river Danube. The hilly region is Buda, the flat industrial side is Pest (pronounced pesht).
I live in Pest in district VII. No pictures yet of the house, but it’s not so intricate as something like this –

Which is actually my favorite piece of architecture to come across a la Atlas.
This is the view from the highest point in Budapest which if I’m not completely mistakes used to be called o’Buda, but is now part of Buda itself. The left side is Buda, right pest.

On the Buda side you can see overpowering buildings. This is the castle district. Last weekend I went to wine festival here and it was amazing over 200 vendors in this majestic setting. I watched traditional folk dancing and picked which wines to taste by how pretty the label was. My camera’s not awesome in the dark, but here are a few pictures of the castle walls.

This is Parliament.

You can see it towards the back of the panoramic view on the Pest side. I quite like the outside of the building… I haven’t toured inside yet, but based on the gorgeous exterior I’m likely to be disappointed.
In the next addition of Budapest through Ashley’s eyes I’ll show you the opera, the synagogue which is the second largest in Europe and literally a few blocks from my apartment (which incidentally I’ve started calling a flat because EVERYBODY here does), and more pictures of the castle district in daylight!
I start classes tomorrow so I’ll be sure to give you an update soonish that is if I have time with the zillion classes I’m taking this term…
Now to you!
You have a great relationship with Ben and I‘m super glad that the only thing you have to complain about is his being a bit bad at time – although it’s not the first time I’ve heard it so you should probably take your mom’s advice and set the clocks ahead :p
How was the dancing and the concert? Did you find anything fun at the festival? I hope you come to Italy while I’m still here and I can see you and Italy at the same time – it would be perfect :)
P.S. It’s getting colder at night here so pretty soon I’m gonna have a chance to break out my new grey hat!!     

Friday, September 9, 2011

Birthdays, etc.

Dear Ashley,

I'm so incredibly jealous that you're in Europe. Seriously, it made me a little depressed. Totally not your fault, don't feel bad. I can tolerate the dog job most of the time, but when something pops up on facebook about what other people are doing, or in your case, where you are, I get a little angry that I can't find something better, and I feel incredibly stagnant.

But every day I rip off a page of my day by day Italy calendar, and hope that I'm that much closer to really being there.

When in doubt, there's always travel memoir, which is like crack. 

Things are good in Philly, although I could throttle the boy right now. We're going to a Ceili Dance as part of the Irish Festival that I bought tickets to for Ben's birthday (which was yesterday). Dancing starts at 8, he said himself that it could take us 45 minutes to get there in Friday evening traffic, and we need to eat first. So at 6 o'clock I said "okay, it's 6." And by that, I really meant "stop playing your silly war computer game and let's go."

He didn't take the hint because 20 minutes later he finally got up to start getting ready to leave.
This is why we're late everywhere we go.
My mom suggested setting all the clocks in the house a half hour ahead and not telling him. I might take her up on that.
But really, if that's the only thing I have to complain about, then our relationship is pretty good.

Throttling aside, we going dancing tonight, and to a concert tomorrow night, and he's going to an accordion workshop given by one of his favorite accordion players so he's stoked. I'll wander around the festival and see what I can find. More on that on Sunday, probably.

In other news, I found $100 on the sidewalk today!! It was soooo exciting- I'm not lucky, I never find anything. But it totally made up for the otherwise shitty week I'd been having (loads of rain, flat tires on the bike AGAIN, that sort of thing).

I think that's all the exciting news from here. CAN'T WAIT to see Budapest pictures!! And your apartment, when you get there. Sorry the hostel people are noisy...that would suck.

Oh, yay, the shower's off. We can (finally) leave soon.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I made it to Budapest!
It’s like walking into the past , well minus the occasional pink spray paint graffiti and consistent car fumes :p
The architecture is beautiful, marble buildings, random wall carvings, the occasional park with well-known Hungarian men and women preserved forever in stone… In other words, incredible.
I haven’t had much time to explore, but I get the feeling that the city is as much a player in this country as the people who live here. I honestly don’t think you could come here and not be affected by your surroundings, but ask me again in a year and I’ll probably be like ‘yeah, that’s a building – point please’.
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to find my way around CEU, mostly with luck. Everything is connected and in circles and sometimes it requires backtracking (you know 4 or 5 times) to end up in the right place. I’ve met some nice people from my program and by the sound of the programs intensity they’re the only people I’m going to meet so fingers crossed for them to stay as normal and kind as they are now.
I also got lost on the metro today – twice. But I found my way home eventually with cell phone and computer adaptor in tow!
Oh, and I found this fantastic little restaurant behind the school called the humus bar which was delicious and reasonably priced as well as having fantastic fresh lemonade and you know how much I love lemonade.
I finally feel human again so I’m hoping that means that the worst of my jet lag has passed, but living in the hostel until my apartment is ready has its challenges especially since most people here are on a backpacking schedule which means they leave to party late and get in super early and as you know unless you’re operating on that same time table it’s hard to wake up to that.
Despite hostel living and remnants of jet lag I’m having the time of my life and I can’t wait to explore Budapest and get some pictures which I have yet to do being too lazy to find the camera in my Mary Poppins bag, take it out of its own bag, and hope that the battery is still charged!
Don’t worry though they’ll be some in my next entry!
Hope all is well in Philly!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Procrastination not Packing


I don't want to pack!!!!!!!!!

So instead I caught up on our awesome blog :)

I love your pesto, crayon, and (not on the blog, but equally as exciting!) the first couple entries of letters!!

I leave in 2 days which is literally insane and I've been having minor panic attacks for the last 24 hours, but my suitcase is still unpacked so I know that I'm fine and still me :p

On another note I used my first F****** Genius post-its for the first time! It was actually quite fun coming up with a line exciting enough to want to remember. It's for Alice so I'll post it when I've written the monologue that comes out of the sentence, by itself it may not sound so genius...

All right I'm gonna go get some shut eye in preparation for tomorrows marathon packing day!

I'll post some yay Budapest pictures as soon as I get a chance :)