Friday, November 9, 2012

Between a BA and an MFA

Being away from the university for six years gave me invaluable insight into the doings of the world, and this sounds corny, but many disparate experiences can occur within someone’s absence from a campus.  The two and a half years I spent in Hungary gave me many things, including a two fingered grip on a rich and complex language.  Upon returning to USA, I worked in the bus industry, including city transportation and private buses, which is another dichotomy rich with material for a creative writer to navigate, due to often complete income disparities, and even learning a city inside and out. I believe it is a plus to have had a school ‘break’ and to be in my early thirties, for after years of debating societal expectations, I feel at home here in the academy.  I guess it would be possible to cut and paste the narrative of The Alchemist here. 

Moving to a new state is a challenge for many new graduate students.  For some around the country the change may be slight, but moving to South Florida feels as though you have been transplanted to a different region entirely.  The culture is unlike any other in the United States, and exists at the far end of a peninsula; few parts of the United States, in my experience, can claim such diversity.  A newcomer can explore Caribbean, South American, European, and even the culture of the Northeast right here in Palm Beach county.  However, with the palm trees swaying and lines of pelicans crisscrossing the breaking waves, it’s easy to surmise the greatest benefit of living here is the ocean.  All of these new animals and objects with exotic names like mangrove, conch, and the ever present curly-tailed lizard offer a boon to the creative writer. 

It seems to me that having a gap between an undergraduate degree and master’s program gives a sense of validity, in the sense that you have tried other things and this is the conclusion you have come to. However, after a six year lull, one may view fundamental concepts like theses and criticism as abstract amoebas at first glance, but after concentrating, certain geometric shapes become more apparent.   A regained sense of keyboard adeptness that was caught in the sheets of propriety reemerges to form semi-colon trophies; in a sense you must learn how to remake your bed.   The community that I've been a part of here is much closer than it was in undergrad; this is a plus in my book, and many of the individuals you will meet share a common interest; I state the obvious because it should not be understated.

The reentry into academic life can look a little daunting, but after the first semester you get your sea legs back and in a sense become the captain of your own boat; it also becomes apparent that the helm of the boat is approachable. The multitudes of opportunities begin to take shape and present themselves along a coastal exploration of self.

Growing up Ian Rice lived in Georgetown, Texas, Cedarville, Arkansas, San Marcos, Texas, and Ruston, Louisiana.  He graduated from Texas State University in Spring 2006 with a degree in European Studies and then moved to Nyiregyhaza, Hungary where he worked as a conversational English teacher in Zrinyi Ilona Gim.  After leaving Nyiregyhaza, he moved to Budapest for six months where he taught ESL to business professionals after receiving his CELTA.  He moved back to Austin, Texas and took some creative writing classes at Austin Community College (while working in the bus business).  After gaining essential material and the rest, he applied to the MFA program at FAU, and voilà: he is an MFA candidate for poetry.

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