After two weeks of being obsessively nervous, I finally left for my interview extravaganza at University of Southern California this past Sunday. Vying for a position in their very competitive Ph.D. in Clinical Science program (Think 6 open spots out of 300 applicants), I felt stunned and pretty much just plain lucky about my interview invite. Not to mention the opportunity for a free two day trip to enjoy LA's lovely weather.
After a short but luxurious flight on Virgin America (if you have never flown with them, then seriously you should. Coach class entails huge leather seats, free wifi, crazy but comforting blue lighting? as well as your own tv screen complete with remote control and free video games. I played "Anagrama" for far too long...but that's educational right?) I arrived at LAX and was picked up by the graduate student that graciously offered to let me stay with her. I was so proud of my passenger-phobia self for not immediately curling up in a ball on the front seat while she began to magically find spaces to slide into in order to change lanes. Since she lived in the middle of downtown she equipped me with her LA tour books-which were, of course, in French (I barely met one applicant or graduate student that didn't speak a second language fluently)-and sent me to go explore on my own. After finding the Disney Concert Music Hall and not much else, I began to try and find my way back to her studio, while attempting to learn French directions at the same time. Failing at both tasks, I found myself wandering around, alone, at dark, lost, in LA, being followed by a crazy homeless man and hoping the scary man with the evil tattoos that was also near by would actually turn out to be really nice and end up saving me when my self-muttering follower eventually attacked me. Luckily I found my right street to proceed on just in time and then sprinted all the way home. Apparently I'm not as street smart as I think!
Walt Disney Music Hall
On Monday morning I met the 22 other applicants before we began our day long agenda of interviews. I was astonished to look around me and realize that besides the four lonely boy applicants, everyone else was super beautiful, friendly, and wearing gorgeous suits. As awful as it sounds...where were the weaknesses in my competition to help me feel better about myself? After making myself feel completely inadequate and insecure (always the best tactic when trying to project confidence) I stepped into my four different interviews and was relieved to find the whole experience less stress inducing then I thought. Because I'm not even sure if I'm ready to move to LA or commit to a 6 year program that is self-professed to be quite the pressure cooker, all I really wanted to walk away from these interviews with was a feeling that I didn't come across as a total fool. Thanks to my very intense preparation, which included reading every article written by my potential advisor in the past 10 years, I feel that my biggest goal was accomplished.
Despite having a generally good time on my trip, words can't express how great I felt when I finally arrived back at the airport to go home, changed out of my suit and pointy high heels into jeans and a sweatshirt. Pressure finally lifted. (Not so cool was my indulgement in Burger King that quickly resulted in a two day food poisoning episode...but that's another story...and at least I won't be tempted by fast food for a very long time.)
After touching down in Seatown and picking up my car in the rain (of course) I felt so happy to be home and so in love with Seattle as I drove through it on my way back to Bellingham. It will be a couple weeks until I find out if I made the USC cut, but even if I don't...I don't foresee being too bummed. I just have no desire to trade in pine trees and rain for palm trees and 6 years without seasons. I have become a northwest girl through and through, and I will have to think long and hard before leaving what I now feel is home.
On a recent hike with William at Whatcom Falls Park. Gorgeous.