Thursday, April 16, 2009

Uncertainty

I have finally finished grading all of my students' papers and midterms. In fact, despite the fact that I was out of commission for 2.5 weeks taking my written doctoral exams, I have finished grading exams ahead of 3 of my coworkers. Hm.

Anyway, today I'm taking the day off from work. The only thing I need to do is plan for my class tomorrow, but I needed a day away from the office. Unfortunately, by 8 a.m. I was already fretting over finances and the future. This next year after June is all completely uncertain right now. Here's what I know:

1. My lease is up at the end of June.
2. My paychecks stop as of the middle of July, once my summer course is over.
3. I have no grants so far and need to fund dissertation research in Spain on my own.
4. The likelihood of getting any substantial support from my university is slim to none.

I have estimated the likely costs that I'll incur over the next year, between tuition/registration/fees at the university, health insurance (not counting my $20 per pill prescriptions), living costs in the US for six months, and living costs in Spain for six months. My not-so-scientific estimate is that all of this combined might add up to around $28,000.

Keep in mind that I have never made more than $13,000 per year, and after July I will have no paychecks coming.

The very sketchy plan is that I would head to Spain for up to 90 days sometime after July, come back to the States and work through the spring (at least for another 90 days, until I can return on a new visa, but also will have to find more money to go back), and then return to Spain in the late spring or summer for another 90 days, then come back for good.

Problems with this plan:
1. As of right now, I don't have the money to do any of this. Even with loans, I'm not sure how to get up to $28,000...
2. I would have to either move out of my apartment or get my landlord to extend my lease after June until I can leave for Spain.
3. When I would return from Spain, I would have no place to live.
4. I have absolutely NO idea what to do with my cat for these 12 months. One negative of being constantly alone and having virtually no support system in town is that there is no one who can take care of him here, and shipping him off to live with my parents is less than ideal for many reasons. But I have no other real options right now.
5. When I would return from Spain, I have no idea if there would be any job available. Because my department is 97% dependent on state funds, they're cutting GTA funds, and since I have already had 4 years of funding, it is possible that they will be unable to give me any financial support (in employment or otherwise) for the rest of my doctoral program. The economy stinks here right now, and I am not sure what, if anything, would be available for a 28-year old, A.B.D. European history expert who has been in academia for the last 23 years and has a number of physical limitations on the kind of work she can do.
6. When I would return from Spain, I am not sure if I would have to rent an apartment for more than 3 months - would I have to be paying rent on an apartment while also paying for research in Spain in the summer? I am not sure if it would be easier or harder to do it this way.
7. If I send my cat off to my parents' apartment in the fall, could I bring him back to live with me in the spring? If so, would I have to ship him away again in the summer? That seems awfully traumatic for such a scared and untrusting creature. But could I live for 12 months completely without him? He's my baby. He's my only companion many days.

I'm sure there are more problems that I'm not thinking about. Things like dealing with my medicine, trying to apply for grants while in Spain, trying to *find* new grants to apply for that haven't already rejected me twice, etc.

Everything is just so uncertain. It's awful, but for a brief minute I wished I were married. Most of these problems would either not exist or would at least be lessened if I weren't having to do it all alone. I wouldn't have to worry about a place to live, wouldn't have to try to fund everything myself despite no job, wouldn't have to worry about Dominic... I know that's awful. Married couples have just as many if not more concerns. But sometimes it gets very old being one of the only single people in my office. Almost everyone I work with has a partner to go through all of this with, while I... I have to deal with chronic migraines and fatigue and all the physical crap, plus the work, and the funding issues, and everything else alone.

So yeah, with all of this (which I worked through between about 7:30 and 10:30 this morning), I'm taking the day off. I'm stressed out.

1 comment:

More Than Science said...

I'm so sorry all of this is happening, I'm sending you a big hug. I think grad students can file for ferderal student loans/aid at anytime of the year even after the official deadline. I really hope something pans out for you.