Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose: at least here

My quasi reintegration began when the great state of Louisiana, ecstatic over a bit of unexpected state funding, posted an ad on Linguistlist, hoping for a few adventurous souls to hop on down and do a Ph.D. Yours truly, then sampling Slovakian cuisine, was one of the applicants. This was so since he wanted a doctorate very muchly and the offer- free tuition and a graduate assistantship stipend- was greatly to his liking. However, your intrepid reintegrationst was mindful of the fact that because the docs didn't do such a hot job at his delivery and left him with hand tremors and a shitty memory, he would need accommodations to make it through school. In fact, Northwestern U. had mentioned that he should stay away from them for this exact reason. And so, taking the risk that he would be left to munch on carbs for another year, he sent off his many medical documents with his application.

But behold, if you will, a letter of acceptance which led to a hastily arranged departure from the quasi-motherland, leaving behind his 90something grandmother [whom he was very fond of- a rarity for him] to sample the delights, savory and otherwise of his newly adopted home state. Of course, he was used to adopting new homes, but that's neither here nor there.

And so it is, that he arrived on a rainy summer day, to the warm southern hospitality of the only other New York Jew on the premises, an anti-social lad who liked the idea of helping much more than helping. And in 2 days time, faced, again, with homelessness, he secured a place on campus, but not the place that most locals thought an "international student" [which he is not- which is neither here nor there] should occupy. Though a grad student, he was given a roommate- another international student. [The university housing survey's first item? Ethnicity. The Louisiana voter registration form's penultimate question? Religious affiliation.]

Sadly, all was not entirely well in La La Land. That accommodation thingie? Never happened. Of course there was a chat or three with one of the professors, which is how your intrepid academic wanker learned, much to his surprise, that his English may not be good enough for graduate school. The first semester ended on a definite downer, having secured a C+ average- not what grad school calls for by the way- and nearly getting kicked out.

Fear not though, for a letter high on legal mumbo jumbo earned a trip back to the cauldron of higher education. Sadly, some were displeased by this show of gumption and responded by saying many mean things about yours truly, and, much more importantly, setting about screwing him over grade wise. Which he does not appreciate. At all. So, for example, when his class ended after ten weeks without a single grade, only to learn, one day before the deadline, that he had failed, your newly minted Louisianan got grouchy enough to file all sorts of papers. (He got even more grouchy when learning that the lad who admitted him has been demoted from his position and that a friend of his was threatened by the faculty.)

And so it is, that your earnest blogger is once again on the outside of the tent, pissing in, rather than inside the tent, pissing out. This is quite liberating however. For example, I now wear a yarmulke, confident that my situation here can't detoriate any further. Should anyone ask why I do not live with the international students, or why I haven't been to church, or where I am from and when am I leaving [all questions I have gotten] I am free to respond with a stream of dirty words I have not previously uttered but very much wanted to, especially to the young man who still does not know my name but insists that I attend bible study.

Freedom rocks. The insecurity that brings about said freedom? Meh.

No comments: