UMich Visit

After returning to work for a grand total of one day, I ran away from DC again to explore Ann Arbor. The campus visit was packed into two days, though at least I arrived Sunday afternoon (the 11th) and got some time to myself.

Upon landing in Detroit, I watched in horror as the taxi meter climbed to unfathomable numbers unsupported by an AmeriCorps stipend. As we approached the inn on campus, I stared, eyes wide, at how big and imposing all the buildings were. Some worker took pity on me inside the campus building, because the pure confusion I was feeling must’ve been written across my face—I assumed the inn would consist of, you know, one building, but instead it was located on the fourth floor.

Once I settled in, a current French student met me outside and took me on a tour of the campus and the town before leaving me to my own devices. I managed not to get lost as I wandered the busy streets and then made my way back to the inn to meet up with another prospective French student, A, and his partner. The three of us headed over to an Irish pub/restaurant for dinner, where, while we had a lovely dinner conversation, I yearned for the week I’d spent in Ireland. (Galway and Dublin were just too pretty.)


On Monday, I reluctantly forced myself out of the king-sized bed and proceeded to get lost in the Modern Languages building, but made it to breakfast early. The other 9 prospective students (3 French, 7 Spanish) slowly trickled in, and the graduate chair and graduate assistant held an informal Q&A session. Next on the schedule was a graduate teaching session, followed by a library tour (can I live there?), and then lunch with faculty and students.

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I met so many people that I promptly forgot most of their names, oops. One of them took A and me to a local café for some delicious tea, and after I met with a professor, a bunch of prospective and current students sat and talked in a restaurant before heading over to the graduate chair’s house for dinner and a “party,” or endless social interaction that lasted until way past my bedtime…even though I left early before I fell asleep in my chair.


Tuesday was rather uneventful because I had to leave early in order to make it back to DC at an unreasonable time. A good chunk of us were probably half-asleep at breakfast, though at least some of us got an hour-long break to fight the urge to fall asleep. Current students came into the commons room to talk to us about housing and student life, and then we were supposed to go to lunch in small groups, but that plan fell apart and I went on a grocery store venture so that I could use my food stamps. #CityYearlife. A final meeting with a professor wrapped up my time at Michigan, because then I had to run out of his office to catch my taxi and get to the airport.

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Everyone at my three campus visits has been so incredibly kind, I’m already dreading having to tell schools no. I’ve loved talking to all the professors, students, and graduate assistants that I’ve met, and having to decline their acceptances will crush a small part of me.

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Cornell Visit

For the last two days, I’ve been learning everything there possibly is to know about Cornell’s French department. The graduate field assistant, professors, and current students have showered us in kindness and pampered us 8 prospective students (three French, five Spanish) with a free hotel room, endless amounts of food (pains au chocolat, éclairs, cheese, Thai food, and sushi), and other free items (a lanyard, folder, screen cleaner, three-day bus pass, and an issue of a feminist criticism magazine).

On Tuesday, I awoke at the wonderful hour of 4:30 to take the metro to the DC airport and my flights to Newark and Ithaca. As soon as the bus reached campus and I found the graduate field assistant’s office, lo and behold, the 18th century and feminist theory professor I was supposed to meet with showed up and took me to lunch.

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Yep, this café is inside the Romance Studies building. How ridiculously extra is that? Anyways, it’s a small world, because the professor was born in Laon and got her PhD at the Université de Nice, two French cities where I’ve spent a year of my life.

The free hotel shuttle them took me from the campus to the Hotel Ithaca, where I finally got to meet my hotel roommate, a fellow queer WOC French nerd. The hotel is the fanciest place I’ve ever stayed in, and I didn’t even pay money for that queen-sized bed with five pillows and a glorious view of a Sunoco gas station.

After a couple of hours, A and I unglued ourselves from the luxurious beds and headed over to campus for a creative writing seminar among the Romance Studies students. (Yes, this department is incredibly interdisciplinary.) We later headed downtown to dinner with a majority of the current grad students, where we got delicious pizza and I, through a series of unfortunate events, got a bruise on my butt. The four French students there had nothing but positive things to say about Cornell (including “Cornell’s so gay”), and they have such varied research interests. After two hours, a current student kindly drove us back to the hotel, where A and I immediately passed out.

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Tuesday morning began with breakfast, where I gasped at the sight of mini pains au chocolat, and we got to meet more faculty and current students before embarking on a library tour. The main library is incredible, there are 7 floors and 8 million books (and there was an exhibition in witchcraft that included manuscripts in old French!); the second library has a room that I want to live in forever.

After I fawned over the libraries, the department fed us Thai food for lunch—the way to my heart—and I had so many wonderful conversations, notably ones about feminism and Black Panther.

I then met with another professor, who took me on a walk to see one of Ithaca’s famous apple vending machines and gorges. Unfortunately, I had to leave behind this pure, wholesome man and rush to a graduate class afterwards, which was…strange because, since the graduate departments here are so interdisciplinary, the class was cross-listed with French and taught entirely in English.

But the reception for prospective students took over my confusion, because I’ve never seen the Romance Studies lounge so full of Spanish, French, and Italian professors and students—and the food! Wine, cheese, éclairs, cannolis, fruit,  charcuterie, and five huge trays of sushi. Who needs dinner after all that food? A and I returned to the hotel after two hours of chatting with professors and students, and then somehow stayed up until 11 discussing Cornell and our grad school choices, among other topics, and spent at least twenty minutes refusing to believe that one of the professors is in his 40s. Also, I will say that, damn, this department is incredibly queer.

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This morning, three Spanish students met us in the hotel lobby and took us to a delicious breakfast at Café DeWitt, and then I had a wonderful meeting with a professor during which we agreed that gender shouldn’t exist. Finally, I had a tiny bit of free time before I had to catch the bus to the airport, so I wandered the campus. My emotional moment happened as I was walking toward this beautiful view and had to stop and stand there and wonder about how much I’d regret it if I turned down Cornell.

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And now I’m sitting here in Ithaca, stuck on the plane that was supposed to have departed an hour and forty minutes ago, munching on leftover baguette from breakfast.