samedi, juillet 15, 2006

Tout commence à s'éclaircir

Well, things are beginning to take shape. The whole "Pro Forma or no?" question was sorta settled for me when I realized that taking a leave of absence would cause me to lose my full-time student status @ U of C, which possibly means I lose my US student visa. Now, I just need to fill out a bunch of forms and convince my dept chair to sign off on it. Also, I have to write a pretty detailed cover letter to the dean (of students) of the humanities division to convince him that what I'm up to in Paris is ProForma-worthy. On the "How do I organize August?" front, it seems like my bro's engagement party will probably be the week of August 13-18, so I can now start thinking about how and when I'll start moving out my stuff. I want to secure a storage space from early August, so I can start moving smaller, easier-to-move stuff into the space, but I'll clearly need to do the greater part of the move when I get back from Canada. This raises the question of whether I should actually leave my car in Canada when I go up for the engagement party, or whether I should just keep it with me. Also, my dad's offer to bring his Big Ass Chevy Suburban of Doom still stands, so I might just ask him to come down sometime in late Aug. I'm planning on lending some of my larger pieces of furniture to a friend who is coming to UofC for a post-doc this year, but I'm still not sure when he'll be in town. Ooh. And I need to figure out how much it'll cost me to send a few packages to myself in Paris. There is a few books that I want to read while I'm in Paris, but I don't want to put them in my luggage. Gah! The work never ends!

jeudi, juillet 13, 2006

Argh, decisions...

Ug. So, I have to figure out what I'm going to do with my financial assistance / tuition support while I'm in Paris. The easiest thing to do (administratively speaking) is take a leave of absence for a year, but that nulls my full-time student status, which in turn makes my student visa to the US (F-1) possibly invalid and definitely makes my application for a french student visa problematic. I can also just swallow a year's worth of tuition support (in other words, waste it on a year that I won't even be here) and put the stipend portion of my financial package into some sort of investment until I need it in later years. The third and preferable option is to take a Pro Forma, which is designed for students who need to do research away from campus, but need to keep full-time status. The big bonus is that my tuition support is deferred for a year, rather than lost (so I have financial support for an additional year) and the Pro Forma costs about $200 / quarter instead of $12435234564356145123 (it's actually about 40k a year). But there are a few catches. Technically, I need to be ABD to get a Pro Forma, or I need a special dispensation by my department chair that says that I am effectively a PhD candidate. Thankfully, my coursework and comprehensive exams are behind me, but I still have one more language exam (German) and a few practica (keyboard sight-reading, transcription) to do. Also, I really should have already done my special fields oral exam and my proposal, but one of the reasons for me going to Paris was to do some preliminary field work (i.e. pre-proposal). I think I can convince the chair of my dept to make an exception, but there's another catch that I'm still pondering: you're only supposed to take one year of Pro Forma, and you can sometimes get another year by special request. In other words, if I want to take another year off to do research afterwards, I would have to write a letter to the dean explaining why my first year wasn't enough. And if I need anything after that, I'm screwed. I don't think I'll need more than one year of research in addition to this one (I better not!). What to do? Also, I need to figure out what I'm doing for August. I need to be in London, Ontario for my brother's engagement party (or my mom will kill me), and I need to drop off my car there at some point. I'm planning on hosting a good-bye party at my place in August, I need to start moving my stuff into storage at some point as well. Also, a friend is going to borrow a lot of my large furniture and turntables while I'm away, but he's not getting into town until late Aug/ early September. Meanwhile, I need to be out of my apartment by Aug 31st, so I haven't figured out how I'm going to make that work. Oy, my head....

dimanche, juillet 09, 2006

Woo! Paris! Yeah!

So, I'm heading off to Paris to work for the U of C Paris Center (and hopefully work on my proposal). UofC has its own little satellite campus in Paris for the undergrads that want to study abroad in France (UofC would never allow its students to take classes from other, lesser universities—kidding! sorta). So, they need an IT support guy or gal who knows UofC's systems (especially Chalk, their virtual classroom software), and it's a lot of money and trouble to be continually sending over their professional tech support people. So, instead, they send grad students on a fellowship. That's where I come in. I'll be in Paris from Sep 06 to Jun 07, helping fix the laptops of the undergrads in the program and helping the instructors make use of the Chalk system. Of course, I also plan to do some preliminary work on my PhD, eat great food, catch up with my French friends, meet cute boys, and finally read all of that stuff I've been meaning to read for years. At the moment, I'm still in Chicago, trying to get my student visa for travel to Paris. The Consulate now has this online appointment system that I find cumbersome and a bit annoying...but I'm at their mercy, so whatever *shrug*. Also, I've got to get my stuff in storage and prepare for the trip. Oooh, and book tickets. That's probably important. Regardless of how exciting the destination might be, moving still sucks. In fact, it sucks pretty hard. And not in a good, Behind the Green Door sort of way.