For you readers of this blog – prospective applicants and incoming students – life after SIPA probably feels far, far way down the line. And it sure is, but time flies, especially when you are having fun, so it doesn’t hurt to at least imagine how life will be once you are done with grad school. And let me tell you, this is a major milestone in life, or at least it feels like one to me today. It’s a milestone I somehow crossed, leaving me standing on the other side quite excited about my future, but also bewildered with uncertainty; thinking – a bit obsessively, I must admit – about every possible combination of what life could be saving for me in the near future.
Before being a grad student, life had already given me the pleasure of plenty of uncertainty. When I was in primary school, I remember constantly thinking how being part of the middle school cool kids would feel. When I reached my last year of high school, I designed all sort of surreal life plans, which I spent hours trying to seriously decide between – would I be a famous biologist who would finally find the cure for cancer? Or a surprisingly young ambassador to the UN?
The end of college brought with it something similar to how I feel today. On the one hand, I felt the world was really my oyster, as my mom likes to say. I felt free and strong, and deeply trusted that nothing could stop me. On the other, I had no clue of how would I actually make the best out of this massive oyster laying in my hands. Would I enjoy my job? Would my colleagues like me? Would it be easy to make good friends in a new city? Or would I be the one sneaking out to lunch early because I had no one to go to lunch with?
In the end, it all turned out well. It really almost always does, but it is sometimes hard to remember that when we are surrounded by this large cloud called ‘uncertainty’. I am again on route to start a new job, in a new organization, in a country where I’ve been away for so long that seems almost as if it is new. We all are. We are leaving dear friends behind, and the comfort of the classes, coffee shops and bars in Morningside Heights — that had started to feel like home.
We, the graduates, are about to begin ‘Life After SIPA’. I have no doubt it will be awesome, no matter which one of those imaginary stories ends up working out. Most likely, it won’t be any of those, but instead it will be something so unique that we can’t even imagine it now. In a couple of years, when you prospective applicants are also on this side of the boat, I hope we can be an example of how things end up working out well. So for now, no need to think too much about Life After SIPA, although having some surreal imaginary stories never hurts.
Mariana Costa Checa