Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Andrew's visit to Indiana

Andrew arrived home at around midnight last night positively raving about Bloomington. He's here for a quick little tryst—we chatted for two hours last night before going to sleep and then I violently woke him up at 7:10 this morning ("You have to leave in twenty minutes!") so that he could go to school for twelve hours (he has to do his law reading and go to law class (the one class he didn't want to miss this week), go to his other classes, polish up a group paper, take a midterm (isn't it a little late for midterms?), meet with the study abroad office to coordinate visas for everyone going on the study abroad to Ghana, etc.) so that he can come home and kiss his children goodnight before running off to the airport again.

Talking until 2 AM and then getting up at 7 AM has this funny way of making you feel exhausted the next morning—especially when you have to get up to use the bathroom three times in those five hours and when the baby in your tummy decides that he's actually a bouncy ball and when your husband spends the whole night blurting out random sentences:

"Now that's an acronym!"

"All the kings are coming. All of them. They're all coming!"

I kid you not. Andrew said something positively ridiculous about every half hour or so. I have a hunch he might be a little sleep-deprived as well.

But it sounds like he's in love with Bloomington. He had so many good things to say about it that "almost [he] persuadest me to be a [Hoosier]" (see Acts 26:28).

Let's see...

He said that several of the professors he talked to referred to Bloomington as "the hole in the center of the donut," meaning that it's a little oasis of culture and refinement surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. And that's true—Andrew took a shuttle from the airport in Indianapolis to Bloomington and saw a whole lot of nothing along the way. He was dropped off in a parking lot and had to walk to his hotel (at midnight—no big deal) by jumping over a grassy ditch and wheeling his suitcase along the highway for a third of a mile (we've done worse). He wasn't entirely impressed when he arrived at the hotel but it seems that his view of things changed in the morning (they always do, don't they?).

He had to walk 2 miles to campus but had a great time while he was there.

He met with various current students for lunch and dinner dates (all of which were paid for by the department so were at restaurants that we have no hope of ever frequenting while living there). He said the single students he had lunch with one day were a little crazy but meeting with the married students was great. They all assured him they lived quite happily on their piddly stipend.

There are opportunities to augment that stipend—by working over the summer as well as during the school year and by teaching more classes than one after he passes his qualifying exams. Plus, he just got hired permanently as the Middle Eastern text-guy at BYU (they changed his position from student to staff and gave him permission to work from wherever in the world he is), so that will help with our income as well.

He said the first semester is notoriously difficult and then it gets easier from there. I said, "Oh, wonderful—because we'll have a brand new baby and will be living in a brand new place so I was just hoping that the first four months would be the hardest of the five years of your PhD program. Yippee."

He said he should be able to finish in four years. Or at least mostly finish.

He said they only want him to take twelve credits per semester. Not, like, 20+.

He said their elementary schools are good and it's fairly easy for "trailing spouses" (that's what I am) to get part-time office jobs (you know, if I ever want to get a, after the first semester because I know I'm not getting a brand new job while living in a brand new place with a brand new baby while my husband completes what both professors and students have warned him will be the hardest semester of his life).

They even have a "trailing spouses association," or something like that.

He said they have lots of trails around the city—everyone seems to run or bike or both.

Word on the street is that it gets cold but doesn't snow much. At least we won't have to shovel (but sometimes winter is even more depressing when it's cold without snow than when it's cold with snow).

IUB's music program is apparently top-notch and they do a lot of operas and ballets. The school sponsors a movie-night once a month for families. They do other fun activities.

Their lake has a "beach" and there are a lot of forests and camping places nearby.

They have some sort of an agreement with a university in Abu Dhabi and said it might be possible to send us out there on a Fulbright or something—we could do stuff at the university there and use it as a homebase to do research in Egypt (sounds a little far away from Egypt to me but if they want to pay for it...). They'll also pay for him to go to one conference per semester.

There were a lot of exciting things he told me and he even showed me a few pictures of campus. "And that's the SPEA building. And that's the bridge-thing by the business school. And that's their football stadium that looks like a Quidditch field. And that...that's a gorilla. Hmmm...that's not from Indiana. That's from the Hogle Zoo." (Andrew had a field trip to the zoo on Friday—for one of his classes...for his master's degree...yeah).

I'm sure if we end up choosing IUB we'll do just fine. But we'll see how Andrew feels about Duke, first.

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