Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TAship Update!


I got an e-mail today from UAF offering me a TAship for the full 2007-2008 academic year - including the Fall! And of course, I've accepted. This is great news. Now I can focus on other finanacial aspects of the trip, like paying for the airfare and acquiring a nice suitcase.

Mike and I went to the Huntsville Public Library today and I picked up two Alaska books:

  • The Great Land: Reflections on Alaska edited by Robert Hedin & Gary Holthaus
  • Alaska 24/7: Amazing Photographs of an Extraordinary State from the 24/7 series created by Rick Smolan and David Elliot Cohen

I'll post the book musings here as soon as I've finished them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Northern Future

This Fall I will be moving to Fairbanks, Alaska to attend the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at UAF. Finding personal insights to Fairbanks, UAF, and the MFA program there has been quite difficult. This blog will serve as a place for my memories and experiences, and aims to smooth the breach between cold guidebook facts and the actual experience of living in Alaska.

On March 8, 2007, I received an e-mail from UAF stating that I had been accepted into the writing program. I was so excited! But I was on the wait list for a Teaching Assistantship, so I tried not to daydream about it too much. I couldn't help myself. Alaska! How beautiful and exciting and harsh and real.

On April 13, 2007, I received an update from UAF offering me a Teaching Assistantship starting in the Spring 2008 semester. As a Teaching Assistant, I will teach one composition course per semester and will tutor for 5 hours each week in the Writing Center. In return, each semester I will receive a stipend of $5,358.00 and will have 10 hours of graduate tuition waived. I'm currently on the waitlist for a Fall 2007 Teaching Assistantship as well. Once you are awarded a TAship, it can be renewed each semester as long as you stay in good standing. So, now that I know I have a TAship for the Spring semester (and hopefully the subsequent semesters, as long as I stay on top of things), I can take out a loan for the first semester without feeling like I am jumping into space without a tether.

I have never visited Alaska. But I have traveled and lived outside of the United States. From 2002 - 2003 I lived in Saijo, Japan, as an exchange student through the Hiroshima University Study Abroad (HUSA) program. During the long University vacation that spans February and March, a few friends and I traveled for 3 days in Hokkaido. My main reason for wanting to visit Hokkaido was the Sapporo Snow Fesitval, where giant snow and ice sculptures are displayed in Odori Park. But as we traveled from Sapporo to the small onsen (hot springs) town of Noboribetsu, I realized that Hokkaido was by far my favorite place in Japan. I loved the snow and ice and the communities rich with individuality.

Noboribetsu, Japan 2003

I'm looking forward to the challenge of graduate school and living in Alaska. Mike, my partner and best friend, will be moving to Fairbanks with me. We are applying to live in the dormitory there as a Financially Interdependent Couple, which basically means that you live together and share expenses but are not married in a legal sense.

We are reading everything we can find about Alaska to prepare for the mental and physical shift to the North. This blog will share everything - from books and media I find on Alaska to my life there.

Alabama's state motto makes little sense for a Red state to bear - Audemus jura nostra defendere (translated from Latin = "We Dare Defend Our Rights" or "We Dare Maintain Our Rights"). But Alaska's motto is less pretentious and extremely prescient - North to the Future.