Six years later

Decision 2004: where to go to grad school?

“I’m so excited! I haven’t been back here in ten years,” my co-worker said with an enthusiasm I didn’t expect after traveling for nearly 8 hours.

“I haven’t been back since oh-four,” I offered.

We rolled our bags out of the Detroit airport, which we both agreed look different and much nicer from our previous visits. After checking out the rental car, we drove to Ann Arbor. As we entered his former college town, my co-worker excitedly listed the dives and restaurants he fondly remembered from his undergrad days in the late 90s. I listened, looking out the windows and trying to remember if any of the campus and city looked familiar.

I almost came to Michigan for grad school. I applied to five schools and was admitted to each, but soon Michigan and UCLA became the frontrunners.

During my trip to Michigan, Nahui, my host and good friend from UCLA, told me, “You know where you’re going. You’re just in denial.”

She wasn’t entirely right. I was didn’t make my decision until I spoke to another friend in the same shoes. After that it was all clear, sort of. But a week later, I still asserted on my blog that I’d yet to make a decision. The next day, I had it all figured out:

it’s official
04.07.04 // 4:55 p.m.

I’m not going anywhere. UCLA is the place for me.

Six years later (to the day), I leave Ann Arbor and return to LA. I’m not entirely sure I made the best decision. I certainly don’t regret it, but anyone who has read this for a while knows I’ve had a tough time in my program. I don’t blame the faculty, resources or even my peers. They’ve all been supportive. I’m just not sure I was mature enough or even ready for a PhD program.

Maybe I could have used the time in the [fully funded] Master’s program and additional work experience I would have gained afterward. Would I even be interested in a PhD at that point? Who knows.

Oh well. No sense in mulling over this now. Real life isn’t a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I can’t go back and see what would have been different if I chose Michigan over UCLA. I just know it would be different.


5 thoughts on “Six years later

  1. R. says:

    That’s interesting. It was also six years ago, at the cusp of the new year, that I made a decision when I did not know there was one to be made. Instead of staying in London and looking for job then and there, I decided to head back home for a couple of months to ‘save money’ only to find myself back in London three months later without much of a chance.

    I know things would have been different but like you said, you live and you learn.

  2. If you had decided to go to michigan you’d never had met me, and maybe not Anita and El Chavo which would have been an EPIC FAIL!!! I’m glad you’re capable of sound decision! Being in the place where the cool kids meet is pivotal to having a good life.

  3. I am sending this post to my comadre’s daughter..she is facing this choice right now..UCLA or Santa BArbara..Everyone is pushing UCLA on her, but i want her to make the best choice for HER..With that being said, one of the hardest things in life (to me), is not looking back and thinking how one choice could have impacted my whole life..

  4. Liz says:

    good times cindy! i clearly remember this day.
    things happen for a reason. you stayed at ucla for a reason.

    i’ve thought about that same question, what if i would have stayed at ucla? but then again, i wouldn’t be who i am today as a person.

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