I have been in graduate school too long, and I have become too comfortable with the free lifestyle it offers. After defending my dissertation, I felt a sense of wanderlust I had never felt before. I literally couldn't stand to look at a computer screen, to walk down Beal Street to my lab, or walk down South University to Panchero's to eat my typical burrito. It was just too much of the same of the same of the same every day.
The mind turns inward in graduate school. I became so immersed in my own black hole of thought that I forgot there is a world beyond the same streets I walk every day. It sounds trite. It is trite. It is true. America has plenty of beautiful places and fascinating cites; I don’t think I’ll ever fully explore them all.
But, after traveling around this country, I still find myself wanting to stay in Ann Arbor. My friends have criticized me for becoming too comfortable in grad school and Ann Arbor, and that I risk becoming stagnant (if not already). I’ve always felt rather odd regarding this criticism. One of the joys of graduate school, beyond becoming an independent scientist, is that I have seen the world: most of the United States, Egypt, New Zealand, China, India, Dubai, Europe multiple times, Mexico multiple times, Puerto Rico, etc.... I do not feel the need to leave Ann Arbor to find a new place, as I travel one week a month on average anyway. I enjoy, at the end of things, always coming back to Ann Arbor. And now that I am graduated and have my PhD, I am viewing this town as my home rather than as a place I am simply staying on a long-term visit. Tim, born in the Midwest, staying in the Midwest.
The road trip ended symbolically with my flight back from New York City. From the unpretentious Bopper taking me around the west coast, I rolled back to Detroit in first class, surrounded by suits. After landing and waiting for a special lady to pick me up at the airport, I idled with psychedelic visions of the walkway to Terminal C in my mind.