Fact: I haven't posted an entry in a while. Since August 13, to be exact.
Fact: August 13 was the day (or night) I arrived in LA.
Fact: I am not in LA anymore. Or Washington, DC. I am in Cambridge.
Fact: Classes has formally started this week.
Fact: I'm already exhausted.
I'm at the KSG Forum, this open area in the main structure of the Kennedy school, at one of the soft seating areas, as I type this entry. I've finally made my decision on what courses to take for my first fall semester. I had to make a decision because the deadline for class enrollment was yesterday at noon. It was a bit comforting to know that I was not the only one who felt more than bit overwhelmed with the course selection, with the 'shopping days' and bidding process, and with the power to create our own curriculum. Almost everyone in my program had some kind of information overload beginning with the week-long orientation that we had last week, and the last couple of days where we had the chance to sit in and have informal classes with teachers, which is otherwise known as shopping days. Yesterday was officially our first day. I will be taking four courses this semester, which is just about right.
So, since I arrived state-side on August 13, that means I have been here for a month now. It feels like six months. I had a very busy four-and-a-half weeks. I got to spend a couple of weeks with JC in our house in Cheverly, unpacked my stuff, went through some of my old stuff, redecorated the house a bit, went on an overnight trip to NY to watch Avenue Q, had a weekend bbq, hosted PP for her 24-hour visit, did tons of shopping (the Leesburg outlets were just great), and got caught up with my Top Chef season 3 watching. I also got spend time with old friends, some of the Pinoy posse, and had an excellent time swapping stories while we ate at a seafood place in Old Town Alexandria. Soon enough I was packing my stuff again to take with me to Cambridge. T-Train could never be still.
It was quite a feat--more like a miracle--that we were able to fit all my stuff onto the Jeep. I'm sure we broke a few laws, mainly by obstructing the driver's view of the rear window, but the drive was more or less uneventful. We did pass by New Jersey so that I could meet JC's family, and that little dinner went very well. (The food was excellent too.) After sleeping overnight at a hotel in West Haven, we continued our drive north to Cambridge.
My first three days in Cambridge got even busier. JC and I hied it off to the nearest Ikea almost as soon as we got to Cambridge since we didn't want to sleep on the floor of the studio apartment for even a night (which I did when I first moved into my DC apartment). After four hours in the store and fortified with yummy Swedish meatballs and mac and cheese, we had two cartfuls of Scandinavian goodies to furnish the aparment. Subsequent trips were made to Target; The Container Store; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Costco; Staples; Circuit City; Urban Outfitters; City Sports; Whole Foods; Trader Joe's; and other stores. My credit card almost melted but it survived the shopping spree. I just had to keep telling myself that all the things that I bought were essentials. (I have my supplies and the apartment is now looking lovely.)
Time here with JC was also punctuated with a few excellent meals. I never thought that Cambridge would be a good restaurant town but we were able to discover places that are worth going back to, even the humble Chinese restaurant where we had our first meal. If ever you're in Cambridge, you should try out Red House, Rendezvous, Z-Square, and Grafton Street Pub. Almost always we had a seafood entree and we were never disappointed (Cambridge being a New England city). Of course we also had our fair share of chain restaurants, and those were fairly good too.
I had a few days off and was able to settle in my new place. JC and I got to explore a bit of Cambridge and Boton. But soon enough I had my orientation week where I got to meet a lot of new people and participate in some fun and informative activities. The practically packed four-day orientation was merely a prelude to the kind of life we are going to have at the Kennedy School. The two days we had to shop for classes were very important because were given the privilege, as an MPA candidate, to create our own curriculum and in effect direct our own MPA experience. We have no core courses since we were all supposed to have had previous grad school experience and should therefore build upon the skills and knowledge we already have. It's difficult to plan out our next four semesters but we all did our best to come up with a coherent list of courses we want to take. KSG's peculiar enrollment process added to the stress but I supposed we're supposed to be smart enough to figure it all out. (Everybody was extra helpful, though, and people did their best to explain the systems and processes to us newcomers.)
Just finished my school week today with a class in Civil Society and Development. We don't have review sessions until next week, I think, so it'll be a three-day weekend. But it doesn't mean that no work will be done. There are readings to do and analyze, books to buy, dirty clothes to be washed, an apartment to clean, etc. I guess I am settling in.