Search This Blog

Friday, March 18, 2011


Finally!  I heard back from UCLA and it's good news again! (G - I sorry! You should talk to USC about developing an International & Comparative Ed. program.) This is the last school, because I also got an email this morning from Columbia that says I was rejected.  I honestly could not care less about the Columbia rejection.  We'd already decided Columbia was way too expensive.  Anyway, so now we get to be in the deciding between offers stage!  It's so fun!

Before we get to the photos, let me tell you how I finally found out.  So, I was getting a little worried because I really felt like I should have heard already about UCLA.  Also, I've been keeping up on a grad forum where people post information about the schools and you can see which schools have started sending out decisions, etc.  So, on the site it seemed like a lot of people were being notified through postal mail and it also seemed like most people had already heard.  So, about a week ago I called and said I was worried that they might have sent the decision to me in Taiwan and that it might have gotten lost in the mail.  The lady immediately wrote me off and said they don't send any decisions by mail.  I thought that was a bit strange since clearly others had gotten it through the mail.  But what could I do?

I resolved to just keep waiting, but yesterday I just got fed up and decided to call again.  This time I talked to much nicer people and before too long I got talking to the right person and she said said I should have received an email already and that they'd all been sent out.  She said they also sent me a letter to Taiwan (which, of course, takes forever).  When I told her I never got an email she just went ahead and told me I'd been admitted!

I was ecstatic, but have been dying ever since because even though she said she'd send me the email again I still haven't gotten it.  I wouldn't care except I want to know if it says anything regarding housing or funding or who my advisor is.  Ya know?  Anyway, I'll just have to call again tonight!  Oh, and you better be sure I've thoroughly check all mail and junkmail...several times.

Alright, I'm sorry the intro was sooo long, but I'm really writing these more for my own records, so you'll just have to bear with me.  Onto the photos!!!  I can actually give a little better commentary on these, because I've been to this campus!

Most of these buildings are styled after buildings in Milan, Italy, which I think is just fabulous.  In combination with the weather, this campus really does feel just a bit like heaven.

Royce Hall (performing arts) :

This picture is taken from underneath the arch walkway of Royce Hall.  In the background is the Powell Library - UCLA's main library.

Library esthetics are actually very important for me.  Isn't this one cool?

Inside Powell Library :

Both Powell Library and Royce Hall are at the top of a hill.  There is a nice big open square and fountain between them.  In the photo below you see the top of the Janss Steps.  In this photo, Royce is to your right and Powell is to your left and if you walk forward you will see this fabulous view and the steps going down before you.

Like this:

When Tom and I visited UCLA's campus over Christmas break 2009/10 it was a beautiful day and we spent some time just relaxing at the top of the steps and then on the grass to the side of them.  It really is a great place to enjoy the sunshine.  There were some great dogs playing too.   We loved it.
From the bottom.  That's Royce Hall at the top.


There are a few other nice buildings to the sides and at the bottom of the hill.  One of them is this guy, Kerckhoff Hall.  

Kerckhoff is one of the student union buildings.  So, it has places to study and eat, etc.

View of Kerckhoff from the top of the Janss Steps.

On the other side of the steps is this one - Kaufman Hall.  It's an arts building that, I think, mostly focuses on dance.

And, drum roll...............

The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies building!
The building is called Moore Hall and it was also one of the original buildings from the early years of the school, like the others I've shown so far.  It's really nice!  I like it!  I don't remember seeing it when we visited, so I can't say how I feel about it in person, but I'm not too concerned.  Here are the pics!

Honestly, I feel like it's at the perfect location on campus.  If you look at the map below, it is the one that says "Brevlon Breast Center" - don't ask me why.  But, Kerckhoff Hall and the Student Activities Center are to the left of it and Powell Library is above and to the right of it.  And, therefore, it's also close to the steps and accompanying grassy area that I like.

And, just to end with a nice photo instead of a map, here's a realy cool sculpture garden on campus.

So, now that you've been introduced to the campus, it's time to give the run down!  Man I love doing these posts.  I'm sorry that you probably don't enjoy them neeearly as much as I do.  I just love daydreaming about them!  Don't worry, I'll soon be back to the usual posts.  Here we go.


- Um, I love the campus!  But then again, I say that about all the campuses.
- Up until a few days ago I thought it was a two year program, but somehow I think I actually got that wrong!  It seems like it's a one year program!  I'm in the process of finding out for sure.  For some reason these things aren't as straightforward as one might think.  For this post, we'll assume 1 year.
- If 1 year, it's DEFINITELY the cheapest option, even though housing is horrendously expensive.  Even without funding (which I haven't heard about yet), tuition is about half Vanderbilt's (after funding), which is cheaper than Penn's.  Good thing I refused to give up my California license!
- Um, hello, family and friends!
- Uh, weather!
- Fabulous city with TONS to explore (as if I'll have time)
- Maybe more job options for Tom (although, everywhere's pretty rough right now)
- I really like the program, at least based on the website.
- UCLA is ranked #6 for Ed. programs.  Penn is #12, Vandy is #1.  I think I'm just not that concerned about rank since they're all well ranked.
- My Grandpa Gorg got (I think) a Masters in Engineering at UCLA!  Actually, since my Grandpa Money went to BYU, I'd have attended universities both grandparents had gone to.
- The school year starts way later, which would give us ample time to get all set up and even relax and explore a little.
- The beach...right there.

- It would be nice to be in Philly with Tom's brother, Bob and his family.
- In a small way I prefer to go to a school that isn't so familiar...or something like that, but eh, I also don't really care.
- I feel like I almost have a kinship with Vandy because they've been so nice and supportive and I don't feel that way about UCLA.

Well, that's pretty much all I can think of for now.  I hope this post wasn't too indulgent for you!  Finally, may all of you have things in your lives work out for you like grad school has for me so far.  I feel insatiably grateful.  Let the decision making begin!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I am a Bath Person

I am.  I am much happier when I have consistent access to a warm, pleasant bath.  I've always enjoyed a rare bath, but it wasn't until I lived in Evansville, In. that I began to prefer them regularly.  My life at that time was perfect for discovering the world of regular bath-taking.  I was a live-in nanny for my aunt and uncle and only worked until around 5 or so.  I also had zero friends.  So, I had to find something worthwhile to do with my evenings.  I explored the area plenty (though, let's be honest, there wasn't THAT much to explore), I surfed the internet, planned a trip around the world, developed my photography hobby and I read and read and read.  All through college, as an English major, I had done plenty of reading.  But it had been a loooong time since I'd read for pleasure.  The reading began in Mississippi and carried over into Indiana as well.  Some of my favorite books were read during that period.  These books will come back in later.

Another factor was that I had to be "at" work by 8 or 9 in the morning and I wanted to establish a good sleeping routine.  Specifically, I wanted to get to bed at about the same early hour every night so that waking up would become easier.  The problem was that I have never been very good at falling asleep - especially not before midnight (case in point - it is currently 1:17am).  It was through this problem that I discovered the bath.  I discovered that after a nice, lazy bath I was completely relaxed.  I could fall asleep much easier!

At first, I just started taking baths so I could fall asleep.  I'd bring in whatever book I was reading (being fully engrossed and not willing to part with it) and I'd read until I was either tired of reading, so tired I was falling asleep, or too hot to stand it.  At first, it wasn't even that fun.  But, after a grew on me.  I have deliciously fond memories of being in the bath, reading Salman Rushdie's, "Midnight's Children" eating some carefully prepared, refreshing snacks, which I'd laid out on a chair next to the tub along with some water, my chapstick, a watch, some hairthings and a towel.  I didn't realize how good I had it then, but I look back on those times with such affection.  I have rarely been happier.

I still feel rather blessed, but I miss those easy bath days.  Sure, I have a bathtub now, but as of the beginning of winter it's been lukewarm at best.  I miss my baths!  I miss them so much that I did something desperate tonight.  I filled up the tub partway with lukewarm water, then transferred hot water to it from the sink, with a pot.  Yes, the sink gets scalding hot water, but not the tub.  Tom kept asking me if I thought it was really worth it and I assured him that yes, it was.  And you know what?  It really was.  I didn't even read.  I just sat there in the water with my chair of supplies next to me and enjoyed it.  And you know what?  Now, I'm tuckered.  But I didn't want to go to bed without telling all of you out there with bathtubs that can be filled with hot water, to give baths a chance.  Give them a chance tonight. Bring a book, and be prepared with the necessities and enjoy it.  You won't regret it.  Goodnight.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


So, I feel like I won the lottery.  Actually, I feel like I KEEP winning the lottery!  I got into the University of Pennsylvania!  Woohoo!  On the other hand, I did not get into Harvard (big surprise), which I'm really not upset about in the least.  Anyway, I got up in the middle of the night last night because I wanted to call Penn's admissions office.  I was worried that they either sent my decision letter to Taiwan by postal mail (bad idea) or had, ya know, forgotten about me!  I was worried because they'd sent me an email over a month ago saying that my application was under review and then I hadn't heard anything since.  And also because there's this website I check where people post when they get into programs and judging by the archives, most ed. masters had heard by now last year.  Anyway, tmi.  Point is, I was going to call them, but I decided to just check the application website one more time first.  And, sure enough, a link to my decision had been posted!  Along with admission I received a $6,500 scholarship and a $3,500 assistantship.  So cool!  So, first I'll show you so photos, then I'll give you the pro/con breakdown.

I think this is my favorite campus photo.  Love the green building and white trees.

Nice fall foliage would be great after missing it entirely this year.

There's another library that looks pretty ugly to me (a surprisingly big deal to this girl), but this one is beautiful.

Most of the photos I came across were with nice fall or spring foliage.  But, let's be honest, it would probably be more like this most of the year!

Apparently they're building a huge park connecting the campus to the river and downtown.  According to the article I read, which was written in March 2009, it was supposed to be finished in 2 years.  Maybe it'll be open by fall semester.

Ok, so there's the campus preview.  These pictures look pretty great, but of course there are always parts of every campus where the buildings are just cement blocks, usually built in the 70's.  But I'm feeling pretty good about the campus.  Here are the pro's and cons:

  • Um, it's a freaking Ivy League!!
  • It's plenty highly ranked
  • With my $6,500 scholarship & $3,500 assistantship it is much less expensive than GW but a bit more expensive than Vanderbilt (since I posted about it I've received a 1/3 tuition scholarship + $2000 scholarship from Vandy)
  • It's a 1 year program!!
  • Tom's brother, Bob's, family is moving there around the same time because he just got accepted to Penn for a postdoc.
  • Philadelphia seems like a pretty cool city
  • Lots of other cool cities within a decent distance
  • Nice countryside pretty close by
  • It would be nice to be in somewhere like Philly over Nashville after living in Evansville, Jackson and Tulsa
  • The fitness center is right across the street from the Ed. building
  • Will Smith's hometown (important to Tom) - maybe they could be friends :)
  • We could sing the "Fresh Prince" theme song as we drive into town
  • Cost of living is maybe about the same as GW, but significantly more expensive than Nashville
  • While this is a worry with any city, our budget might land us in a more seedy area than we'd like
  • Winter
  • Probably hard to find parking
  • I have a much less comprehensive understand of what the area is like than any of the other schools
Well, that's all I've got for now.  Plus, poor Tom would like to finally get on the computer.  So, to close, we're still waiting to hear back from UCLA and Columbia, although I think Columbia is pretty much out of the running because it's exorbitantly expensive and they're not traditionally know for being generous with funding.  We are ecstatic to hear back from another school because we are SO anxious to begin making this decision and to know what we'll be doing a few months from now!  Thanks for reading, this is very therapeutic.  

The End

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Year : Tsengwen Reservoir

So, this past New Year's celebrations were some of the best I've ever had!  We didn't go to some great party and it was very low key but deliciously enjoyable.  We went camping with out ward!  For any unfamiliar with LDS lingo, a "ward" is like a congregation that you're assigned to based on where you live.  They're often called "ward families" because people in the ward typically try to help out other people in the ward.  Moving on. 

So, we were told that the ward was having a camp out for New Years and since we had no other plans, we decided to go!  There are a few other English speaking foreigners in our ward, but we were the only ones who decided to go.  Because of this language/culture barrier, we were a little worried, but we ended up preferring it that way.  What stuck with me the most throughout the weekend was how unfailingly kind and thoughtful everyone was of us.  There are a few Chinese members who speak some English and they were always trying to help us.  In fact, all the members who didn't speak English were always trying to help us too.  We're seen as these young, well meaning but very confused people who are a bit strange but in an endearing way.  You can see it in their eyes and it's great.  I wish I could adequately describe how welcoming and eager to help they all were (and still are).  So, without further ado, the pictures.

Here we are New Years Eve night
The camp out started on New Years day and we got there a bit late because we had to work til 9:30 or so.  It took about an hour and a half to get up there, so we got there about an hour before the new year.  The Bishop was kind enough to give us a ride.  He's great.

In the morning we had breakfast.  Lots of unappetizing (to us) Taiwanese food, but we scrounged up enough passable stuff to not go hungry.

This is what the site looked like.  It was really nice for a camp ground!  Nice stone tables and chairs.  Great barbeques and cement squares to put the tents on top of.

Our tent.

There was this nice walkway connecting all the tents.

This is the bishop's family.  His wife speaks GREAT English and their kids are just precious.

This baby's great.  Nearly always completely stone faced.  Hilarious.

After breakfast the whole group walked to this beautiful recreation area.  It was a big field surrounded by the green mountains with lots of flowers and everything too.  I wish I'd taken my camera there.  To make things better, we'd expected the whole weekend to be freezing cold like it had been leading up to it, but it ended up being perfect weather.  Nice and sunny and in the low 70's.

At the field we played ultimate frisbee and baseball and chatted.  We actually brought the frisbee and taught a bunch of people how to play.  It was so great trying to explain it to them and then watching them all try.  So endearing.  We loved it.

The whole weekend, but especially while we were at the field, will probably end up being one of my favorite memories from Taiwan.

When we were done, we walked back and had lunch.

For lunch everyone just barbecued a wide variety of foods.  They relentlessly tried to feed us EVERYTHING.  I was brave enough to try one of those dark squares you see on the right.  Blood rice, which is exactly what it sounds like.

I tried a little bit of this too.  It looks like meat, but I think it's made out of fish eggs or something.  Apparently a delicacy.

The meat in the back plus the green peppers were the best.

I just thought this guy looked great.
After lunch, we went for a nice walk and then took a pleasant nap.

The road next to the camp site.  The area was actually really nice.  Very pretty.

This house had a neat style and was just randomly there in the camping area.

It was totally falling apart and didn't seem to have a purpose

The place we were at was a reservoir, I guess, with lots of pretty green mountains around it.

Tom throwing some rocks.

We climbed down by the water and chatted for a while, just enjoying being out in nature.

When we got back, it was time to pack up and go!  But first, we took a group picture.  Isn't this a great group?

Happy New Year!

The End