I have great news that I can finally share. At the end of last year, I applied to nine universities. This spring, four rejected me outright, two put me on a waiting list, one offered me a place without funding, and two offered me a place with (very generous) funding. All of these were good places to study. When I began the process, the University of Tennessee was one of my top choices, and so when they made me a really good offer, I was happy to accept. It’s a great end to a very long process. Sooner or later, I may write a post detailing the story of how it all went, but all in all, it was much more complicated than I expected, and was more like playing a six-month long hand of poker than anticipated.
At Knoxville, I have received a combined funding package, which includes a first-year fellowship, a four to five-year teaching assistantship (I teach two classes a semester in return for free tuition, a salary, and health insurance), and, additionally, a chancellor’s stipend for the first four years. There are also a lot of scholarships to apply for once in the department: among others, there is money available to travel to conferences, to take summer courses, and there is the chance to teach one less class in a semester in return for helping a professor with his or her research.
I feel pretty great about this.
The programme at Tennessee has highly experienced fiction faculty, teachers who seem dedicated to teaching the kind of fiction I want to write. The writing students I spoke to there sounded very happy. Knoxville is a small city with a lot going on, and an interesting mix of conservative and liberal tendencies. The city is thirty minutes from the Smoky Mountains.
It’s possible to take a bus to Nashville, a longer bus to D.C., drive to the hip mountain town of Asheville, visit whisky refineries, and eat very healthy food.
When I first got the offers from colleges, my parents danced around the living room. Now that I have accepted one, the three of us are a touch sad, as we know this nice period of me living at home is coming to an end.
Tomorrow I’m going to speak to the department further, and ask a lot of questions. I have a lot of writing I want to do, a lot of reading, and I’m going to make a lot of new friends. I’m also going to be living in the American south for the first time.
I hope you will keep reading as the adventure continues.