While in SC I am trying to reconnect/ visit with as many people as I can. Saturday I went with my old roommate back to our stomping grounds- Clemson SC! It was great seeing one of my closest work friends, who now has a baby! Even though I hadn’t seen them for several months/years, we picked up right where we left off. It is amazing how some things never change.
This comic post is a little late since we got so busy packing the last week… for those of you who don’t follow me on instagram, we left Florida yesterday morning- for the last time. We are now in South Carolina, staying with my mom, waiting on the final word regarding our delicate situation… yes, it has been a many-months-long process. Inshallah the news will be good!
Yesterday I received an email telling me that my thesis has been accepted by the graduate school.
My status has been changed to final clearance.
What does that mean?
The era of higher education, for me anyway, is done. Complete. Finished. Beginning around six years ago, this month, my technical graduation will be August, but for all practical purposes, I’ve completed my schooling.
It’s been a long journey. Starting in upstate South Carolina and eventually finding my way to Florida, I’ve had many experiences as a student. Realizing that my studies have completed, I became a little nostalgic. There is so much I miss about my undergraduate experience… the city of Clemson, the friends that I had there, meeting the love of my life (and marrying him), summer Sundays at Lake Hartwell, and fresh fall Saturdays spent on the hill with 80,000 of my closest friends (only fellow Tigers know what I’m talking about).
Those are days I will never forget. Let alone the less pleasant memories…my first failing grade, thinking my love was going to have to stay in Turkey right after meeting him, professors who couldn’t teach their way out of a paper bag…
But the good memories are so much more than the bad ones.
And then I came here.
Most of the memories I’ve made since moving to Florida revolve around married life. Like I had said before, Hubby and I married a week before moving further south…so I wasn’t surrounded with the friends one can only make during their undergrad, but I did experience so many other things that only graduate school can provide. That incomparable rush when you make an A in the hardest class in the department, spending every waking moment working on your research, forgetting what the outside of the lab looks like, and second guessing why in the world you are here.
But I came.
And now it’s done.
Of course there were lots of vacation/ beach trip memories to be made too, but those aren’t over. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy in Turkey (can’t beat the Mediterranean, am I right?)…but school, formally, is done. I can’t even wrap my head around it! What will I do with my time?
You never stop learning, really. For instance, I will be learning Turkish, sewing, cooking methods, etc (inshallah)…but there is something so heavy about finishing something you have been working on for years. Six years, to be precise. I wonder if I will look back on Florida the way I look back at Clemson…with fondness, and a pang of longing. Time will only tell, I guess…
It’s the end of an era.
A lot has been going on recently, especially with the hubsy’s PhD! He put his foot down with his advisor saying that he only has a little bit of time left in the US before he MUST return to Turkey, PhD or no PhD, and he has no time for classes! His advisor was shocked, expecting many more years out of the hubster before he could graduate. Well, long story short, it seems that he is done with classes after this term! YAY!
Also, he took his qualifies (the exam that means you can continue your PhD studies…like a GRE for PhDs) and PASSED! Alhamdulillah!
These are all the things that we were looking for as signs that his PhD is attainable and we should stay after I graduate this coming summer. Inshallah it all works out! Sorry I can’t be more detailed, I have to study for an exam. I hope my next post will be as happy!
At this point we are standing at the crossroads. This is the point of no return, at which we must take a step in one direction and follow through. The options are neither clear nor simple, both loaded with risks, negatives, positives and uncertainty, but this is where we are.
1. Remain in the US
On my side this is a no-brainer. Everything for me has been working out to a T (for now at least). I graduated magna cum laude 2 months ago with a bachelors in Food Science, was accepted to another university to receive my masters (for which my tuition is covered by the school and I will be paid a salary for living). No clouds here, right? My husband, however (married for 2 months, together for 3 years) is living a different story. Being a Turkish national, he is here on a stressfull J1 visa with a scholarship from his government (going on 6 years now) that gives him 3 more years to obtain his PhD. No problem? Wrong. Everything for him is going to hell in a hand basket. Research is not fruitful, advisor doesnt give two narrow pigeon farts about his struggles, and all the while the debt is ringing up and time is burning out, limiting his retirement in the future and his pay grade. Not too bright.
2. Return to Turkey
And here the coin flips. We’ve known all along that we would be returning to Turkey to work off his debt to his government via teaching. However, we had planned for him to have his PhD and me my masters before this occurred. If we leave now I will be master-less (meaning there is no job for me in Turkey), not speaking the language, and basically house bound for God only knows how long until I can speak the language and learn the customs well enough to venture out alone. Possibly in the future I could take my masters from a Turkish school, but their level of education is pitiful in comparison to the options here. Its better than nothing, right? But for him, he would be able to complete his PhD under an advisor he knows and trusts, studying his favorite topic, in a city that he loves, near his family (whom I also love!). And while he is studying at the university, finding his niche, I will be left in the house with nothing to do but clean and bake. I am not housewife material. But on the other hand, I would be fluent and comfortable in Turkish in 4 years when he must enter basic training (a requirement for all Turkish men) instead of floundering after only a year in Turkey.
As you can see, the decision is not one to be made lightly. There are many benefits and side effects to both options. Family isn’t even being considered, since weighing my family vs. his family balances at 0. They both are wonderful. By the time this is read, however, the decision will probably have been made. All we can do now is look for guidance and a sign. Insallah the decision will be made painlessly.