As you know, blogging is new for me. Last week while I was rushing to finish a mind-blowingly long application I sent out a request for post ideas. A new acquaintance of mine suggested discussing moving. Or, more accurately, he suggested discussing the mostly-unspoken pressure to move around to complete various degrees.
Moving is a topic near to my heart… Since beginning my undergraduate degree in 1997 I have moved 18 times. I’ve lived in North Carolina, British Columbia (island and interior and, for a short time, on a school bus), Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and now Nova Scotia. I’ve gone to three different universities to obtain my three degrees, took one small year off (hence the BC living), and have happened to move house almost every year for various reasons. Given that I and many of my dear friends and acquaintances are also still on the job market moving is very much on my mind.
But as I mentioned my friend who initially suggested this post had a slightly different angle in mind. He’d been thinking specifically about the pressure to move to a different university to complete your degree. That’s something which was really easy for me to do, and less so for him given family obligations. But he’s got me thinking: is moving to do your degree necessary?
I always thought so, though in retrospect I’m not certain why. I began my academic career in the United States. I was already accustomed to moving, my parents changed career when I was 10 leading us from Ottawa to rural North Carolina twice a year. So perhaps the itch/ability/inevitability to move was ingrained. But, those of you located in the U.S. of A. will know that it isn’t necessary to move this much if you choose to enter academia: the Masters degree is streamed into the PhD process which means that (like the student who received and ‘A’ on her Emerson paper) students begin the PhD process at age 21 or so (making huge obvious assumptions about going straight through one’s degree with no deviations or interruptions called life). Another good friend of mine did this: we began our BA at the same time, she’s finished her PhD now, and she’s lived in the same place for more than 4 years.
In Canada there does seem to be more pressure to move around to do one’s degree. As I say, that’s been easy for me in the past because I’ve almost always been making decisions for myself alone. But I can think of several friends–of various genders–who have agonized about continuing on because it has generally required leaving or uprooting family and partner.
I’m not sure what I think about this imperative–real or implied–to move for various degrees. Certainly that’s due in part to the fact it hasn’t been an overly agonizing detail for me (although that’s changing now). I appreciate the three very different geographic spaces in which I took my degrees: North Carolina and Montreal and Alberta have surprising similarities in addition to the myriad of obvious differences. I have become extremely adept at starting over. But is it necessary to move?
Your turn readers: what do you think about the pressure (implied or overt) to move for various degrees?