My Road to the Ph.D.: The First 24 Hours


In March 2009, I traveled to Indiana, PA to interview for a spot in their summer doctoral program in English Literature & Criticism.  Fast forward nearly 15 months later and I am now settled into my two-bedroom apartment and am beginning my first day of classes. I will be here in Western PA during June, July, and the first week of August taking four of my courses and repeating the same process again next summer.  With a lot of work and a little luck, I should complete all of my coursework for the doctorate by the end of the Fall of 2011.

I moved in yesterday actually, and the apartment is nice–especially since it doesn’t look like I’ll have a roommate.  There are two bedrooms each with its own full bathroom, a nice-sized living room with lots of natural lighting and a kitchenette with a full fridge.  I’ll probably keep my bedroom for my academic work and the living room will be a nice place to set up my workbench for my models.  Since I didn’t bring a television, I figure this will be a good mental reprieve from the workload.   Otherwise, all the amenities I need are either here or readily accessible.

Generally speaking, everything is within walking distance.  My classes are held right across the street and less than 5 minutes walk from the time I leave my room.  While a few of the buildings’ exteriors look like they could use a fresh coat of paint, the interiors are about a high-end as one could hope for.  Of course, most of the buildings are in like-new condition and the campus itself is definitely undergoing a major renovation which is nice.

The fitness center is only on the other side of the parking lot and is fully loaded with all of the equipment I like to use for high-intensity cardio and regular weight lifting. The dining hall is just about two blocks down from where my classes are held and only about three total from my dorm.  Probably the only downside of this will be when it’s humid out and walking in general will prove to be a more uncomfortable proposition than anything else.  The only point of interest that is any noticeable distance from the dorm is the parking garage which is about 3/4 of the campus away from where I’m located; however, the campus isn’t really all that large so the inconvenience is negligible when considering I didn’t have to pay for my summer parking pass (directly–I’m sure that fee was rolled into my tuition, etc).

One downside that I recently found out about was this campus is 100% dry–no booze!  So much for a cold beer after a long day of work.  But, I can look at this as a positive since I’m hoping to capitalize on my Winter & Spring workouts as I try to get in better shape this summer.

So, I’m not sure this is the most exciting or enthralling entry but I think it does a sufficient job of running down the basics of my first 24 hours while setting up and getting things up and running here at IUP.

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About fhelvie

I live in CT with my wife and two sons. I am also writing my doctoral dissertation, which is focused on the relationship between American literature and comic book superheroes. I have served as a panelist at a number of conferences discussing my research in comics, medieval literature, and pedagogy. Most recently, I had the good fortune to present at the New York Comic Con. In addition to my work in comics scholarship, I'm also a full-time professor of developmental English.
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