*Update* - I think the itinerary is about set, now. I'm actually quite excited about it. I've just spent the weekend ghost-writing cover letters, and emails of introduction and enquiry. I'm taking a small slice of credit for her success as a royalty payment.

I think what excites me most is the attitude. That she'd have the gall to apply for even quite prestigious universities in some far-away country she's never visited, and then gamble a couple of thousand dollars worth of money she doesn't really have on the off-chance it helps her dream come true. And all on her own two feet - no mister or anyone else to carry her through. Damn. She puts me to shame.

So we've had the conversation about fulfillment in life, and expecting to find it through motherhood, and failing (at least so far) and turning instead to contemplate finding it through work. And I've decided this makes good sense. I'd like infertility to become background to a life in which I create and pursue other dreams. I'd like to think, for the moment at least, that motherhood, if/when it happens, will create a part, not the whole, of that tapestry. I just need something else in my life that actually means something to me. And a beer with old friends last night has brought me closer to deciding a path, closer to realising what excites my passion and has, for as long as they've known who I am.

But enough about me. Let me live vicariously through someone else for a moment.

My sister - who struggled to enter the career I may soon leave behind - is also creating and pursuing her dreams. Yesterday she obtained permission from her boss for 2.5 weeks leave. This morning she booked return flights to New York, and in exactly two weeks she departs our sunny shores to do a whirlwind grad school recon of the USA. Time is tight, and she's just sitting down to work out how much is possible. And I realised I know some USians, and some of them even live in the towns she's thinking of visiting. And I thought you might be neighbourly enough to give her some practical advice - especially with transport options.

So this post is a call to all US citizens and travellers. She needs an itinerary and she needs one fast.

Here's the long list of programs she's applied to:
Texas A&M Uni, UC Davis, Cornell, North Carolina, Uni Pennsylvania, Purdue, Tufts, Uni Wisconsin-Madison, Washington State, Colorado, Virginia-Maryland.

Here's the short list of programs she's really interested in:
UC Davis, U Penn, Purdue, Tufts, UW-Madison, Washington, Virginia-Maryland.

Here's the really short and gravely unambitious list of universities she thinks she has time to visit:
UPenn, UW-Madison, Washington, Purdue.

These aren't necessarily her top four from the short list, just the four she thinks make a nice-looking intinerary, based on a few hours' internet research. Well. That won't do.

She has fifteen full days in the US, and two half-days on either side. By bus, train, plane or car, I think she can make it to more than four universities. I've been on the road with her before - I know she can cover more ground than this, if she thinks it's possible. Help me show her it is.

She wants to have a full day at all the universities she visits.
U Penn has requested she visit on the 1st of December, and Virginia-Maryland wants her there on the 4th.
She arrives at JFK on Saturday the 25th of November, and leaves again on Monday the 11th of December.

So if you have any tips, send them on. And even if you don't, think of her in a couple of weeks time, and remember to wave her hi.

What's with the lack of non-car directions on uni websites? Where are the public transport options, people? Good grief!


Vee said...

Sorry I can't help you but just wanted to wish your sister all the best and I hope her dream comes true.

Very happy you have made some realisations too.

Carly said...

Hey Bea, I've sent you a PM via EB.
When are you gunna check your messages woman!?!?

Thalia said...

If washington is DC, then that's an easy trip on the train to Penn. Penn is walking distance from the mainline train station, depending on how much luggage she has. Or it's just 2 stops on the subway. Philadelphia is very public-transport friendly, and a wonderful place to visit. While she's there she should go to Genji for sushi. There used to be one near the university but I think I heard it had closed down. There's one in center city still, on Sansom St between 17th and 18th.

Bea said...

Hey, Thalia - it's Washington State, waaay over on the West Coast, but it's good to know Penn is walking distance from the station. She's a light packer and will no doubt be taking her backpack. I'll tell her about Genji's.


This is the stuff I need to know.


Ellen K. said...

Public transportation? Leave those ideas at the border (or at least on the East Coast). Middle America is, unfortunately, not so big on public transport.

I went to a Big Ten university (Purdue and Madison are part of the Big Ten Conference), and I hope your sister enjoys her visit at these campuses. Madison is an especially cool place and definitely worth an overnight/weekend visit.

steph said...

Ellen said it, the US pretty much SUCKS for public transit. However, I know a lot of people that have taken the train or the bus when doing large jaunts so that they could go at night and sleep. This kept them from losing an entire day just on travel. Guess that option depends on your ability to sleep in that style, b/c if you can't then it won't help for time, anyway.

If she can follow a map, might not be a bad idea to rent a car. This will also give her some amazing scenery and a way to explore the areas surrounding the colleges.

Sounds like a really fun journey. There are times I wish I could go back and try to do just that.

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