Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Brace yourselves for pathos!
Earlier this week I had to go out and purchase some hiking gear; I’m going on an expedition with some of my lab mates to gather platypus and echidna samples from the field. This is a 10 day trek to the northern Barnard river near Hunter Valley (alas, we’re not going for the wine). I’m extremely excited at the prospect of getting to observe and handle platypus and echidna in the wild, but simultaneously I’m nervous…nervous because I have only gone camping once before (for only one night), and I have no clue what the hell I’m doing. But I purchased hiking gear nonetheless—I needed a jacket (I had none), and boots (I only have my converse), and a waterproof shell (because rain permeates most fabrics). All this set me back more than a pretty penny, though, and now I’m starting to panic about my financial status. As things stand, I have a little under $8K AUD to my name, which is enough to make it through the semester, but certainly not through the three years (minimum) of my program. Even holding down a job, working the maximum hours my visa allows at Australian minimum wage, wouldn’t cover all the expenses I require. It looks like I may have to pack my bags and return to the states…
Or do I? My parents have offered to loan me money to pay for my living expenses (which my scholarship, sadly, does not cover). I don’t want to put financial strain on my parents because they will already be strapped for cash as they move cross country to new, lower-paying jobs. But it’s possible that I’m rolling out a hundred reasons why I must drop out and return to the US simply because a part of me wants this outcome. There are those doubts eating away at my confidence: doubts surrounding whether or not I can hack a PhD and whether or not I have that work ethic (I believe I wrote about this before). At this point it would really suck to come back to the US, but at the same time it would be a great relief, especially when I’m at a point in my studies where I don’t entirely know what the hell I’m doing. It would be easier to simply return home to everything that’s familiar and comfortable.
I know some of the decision to stay or go is out of my hands. If it turns out my parents cannot help me as much as I require, and there are no work opportunities (or work in addition to parents help is still insufficient), I will have to return home or else find myself unable to pay for shelter or food. But, barring the extreme misfortune of having every possible solution fall through, I’m going to stay on. Maybe this venture is fated for horrible failure, but if that’s the case then I’ll face it. I still have doubts and the desire to return home to reconcile with my determination to have my degree, but this is a journey, after all.