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Feb 28, 2006, 12:26 PM

Post #1 of 333 (12429 views)
The program's great, but does the food suck? Local life! Can't Post

How's this for a place to exchange details on the towns we're thinking about moving to?

(This post was edited by theapplepicker on Feb 28, 2006, 1:46 PM)


Jan 29, 2005, 6:59 PM

Post #2 of 333 (11624 views)
Visiting schools? Can't Post

Assuming I am accepted into more than one program, is it normal practice to visit those schools, attend a sample class, meet with students and profs, etc? Also, is this arranged through the mfa depts themselves or independently? Finally, would the dept pay for the flight and hotel or does that responsibility fall on the student entirely?

Buy this book!

Jan 29, 2005, 8:27 PM

Post #3 of 333 (11621 views)
Re: [mizrachi] Visiting schools? Can't Post

Unless they really want you desperately, the costs of a visit are yours.


The Review Mirror, available at

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at

James Hall

Jan 29, 2005, 10:46 PM

Post #4 of 333 (11612 views)
Re: [mizrachi] Visiting schools? Can't Post

It's really up to you if you want to visit the school, check out the city, meet with current students (and maybe sit in on a class one of them teaches -- just to get a good idea of what kind of environment you'll enter as a TA, if you do), visit a workshop, etc.

The programs I've been involved with have been happy to get prospective students in touch with current ones -- but that's about it. Costs are, like David says, entirely your responsibility. (I've heard of visiting students crashing on a current student's couch or something while they visit, but that's also yours to negotiate).


Jan 30, 2005, 1:21 AM

Post #5 of 333 (11608 views)
Re: [freeverses] Visiting schools? Can't Post

that's sorta what i figured but someone mentioned to me a school offered him a voucher for plane fair. sounded weird


Jan 30, 2005, 2:56 AM

Post #6 of 333 (11607 views)
Re: [mizrachi] Visiting schools? Can't Post

I've heard about that sort of thing at th PhD level, but not for master's students.


Jan 30, 2005, 10:48 AM

Post #7 of 333 (11598 views)
Re: [mizrachi] Visiting schools? Can't Post

Ohio State paid for me to come visit. Some of them will, some won't. I only had to pay for a hotel room & food.


Jan 30, 2005, 4:48 PM

Post #8 of 333 (11574 views)
Re: [mizrachi] Visiting schools? Can't Post

I would definitely recommend visiting and sitting in on a class, talking to teachers, talking to former students, etc . Even if you can't visit, definitely talk to current and former students -- a good program that is interested in you will offer that without you even asking. One place that I was accepted to (and ultimately decided against) didn't, and at the time I was too unassertive to ask, so in desperation I got a name from the school's lit magazine masthead, called information and got his number, and "cold called." It was awkward but he was not very favorable about the school so that told me something (both how I had to get the info and his response).

Also, and this is almost too obvious to mention, but be sure to visit when something's happening. For one school I went during spring break -- a complete waste of time other than to see the city, where I'd never been, and the other during early summer, when there was a summer writing deal going on but no one teaching that I'd be working with. (I didn't have any vacation from work to go, but looking back it would have been worth to take the time off even unpaid to make the trip).

Along those same lines, and this is a bit outside your question, but if you're applying somewhere because there's a particular faculty person you want to work with, and you're set on it because of that reason, by all means be sure they're actually going to be there. I've heard a lot of stories, including in my program, where people were all excited because of this person or that on the faculty and they ended up taking a sabbatical, which led to some bad feelings and disappointment. So it's worth it to do some investigating and try to know beforehand. FWIW!

Also, I've never heard of having your visit paid for by the school -- I don't think I even got offered a lunch, much less a free trip!

James Hall

Jan 30, 2005, 9:19 PM

Post #9 of 333 (11559 views)
Re: [rutha] Visiting schools? Can't Post

In talking with a friend today, she mentioned that one program she applied to did fly her out, and the faculty members she met picked up the tab at lunch. It happens, but I guess is pretty rare.


Feb 2, 2005, 10:22 PM

Post #10 of 333 (11501 views)
Re: [freeverses] Visiting schools? Can't Post

Penn State paid for my visit (all expenses, including hotel). From others I've spoken with, this is not uncommon practice at other schools .... though only once you've been accepted; it's something PSU does because they say there are higher acceptance rates if you visit than if you don't. It would probably be different at a top-tier program that everyone's dying to get into.


Feb 7, 2005, 9:00 AM

Post #11 of 333 (11446 views)
Re: [mizrachi] Visiting schools? Can't Post

If I get accepted to more than one school, I definitely plan to visit. Three of the schools I applied to (Michigan, Indiana, Iowa) are about 4 hours' drive from where I live. One of them (Virginia) is about 90 minutes' drive from where my sister lives. If you're going to be spending the next 2-3 years someplace, it's worth it to check the place out. I see it as adding to the investment, myself.

Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


Feb 28, 2006, 12:37 PM

Post #12 of 333 (12402 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] The program's great, but the food sucks: local life! Can't Post

Columbus, Ohio (for people considering Ohio State):

The cost of living isn't bad, especially if you're not going to go to bars every weekend, movies every night. Although no longer living in Cowtown, I did live there for about three years.

My first apartment, which I shared, was a 1 bd that I split with a roommate, and we each paid about $255/month (2002-2003). My second apartment was a 1 bd that I kept to myself, and that cost about $495 a month(2002-2003). The last apartment I lived in I again shared, and it cost me $365/month including water and heat (2004-2005).

The public transportation system is not bad at all if you live in the city proper, but I can't say how good it is coming in to the city from the suburbs. Even though public transportation isn't bad, I would still recommend living within about a mile or two of campus. Nice areas are pretty much anywhere west of High Street, which includes Victorian Village (a sort of historical district, where suprisingly, the rent isn't always so horrible). Clintonville is also nice. A lot of professors live there. I would suggest staying away from the living areas immediately east of High Street, especially those from 1st St through 18th. Lane Ave doesn't seem to be so bad, but most of the areas on that side of the street are filled with undergraduates and their bad behavior. There also seems to be a higher instance of crime in this area. (I used to run there at night; I was insane-O!)

If you do decide to live farther away from campus, make sure that you're living near High St. Catch the 2 bus all the way in to campus, and Denney Hall is just a block or two west, if you get off at the right stop. Another place I thought about living is German Village, which is quite a distance from campus but is right on High. Plus, it has the Book Loft, which is the most fun book store I've ever been in. It's a couple old houses that have been fused together into a maze of a book store. Think of Lady Winchester's house, and that'll sort of give you an idea.

There are various kinds of restaurants: Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Greek, and so on. I haven't had a bad meal at The Happy Greek, and of Indian restaurants I've only eated at Taj Mahal (which was a long time ago but I remember being very tasty), India Kitchen (which was also quite good) and some other place that my dinner crew was very disappointed with. I think if you stick to the Indian places on High St, you should be okay. Oh, and there's an OSU landmark, Buckeye Donuts, that has pretty good falafel. It's a donut and coffee shop run by some Greeks.

The first Saturday of every month a gallery hop is held in the Short North (a section of high street that happens just before you hit downtown). Gallery hop is interesting for people watching alone, but all the galleries open their doors to the bumbling public, too. So sometimes you get to see some beautiful things, and sometimes you get to see some god-awful ugly things.

Columbus has *the* best public library I've ever been in. It's absolutely gorgeous and with a huge selection of books, CDs, DVDs. I think it was even ranked as the best library in the nation.

Any other questions?

(This post was edited by theapplepicker on Feb 28, 2006, 3:01 PM)


Feb 28, 2006, 1:45 PM

Post #13 of 333 (12352 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] The program's great, but the food sucks: local life! Can't Post

I posted this in another thread, but it makes more sense to post here, I think:
this is for IOWA CITY

I was born and raised in Iowa City, so here goes about expenses, etc.
--You can get a nice two bedroom apt. for $600 (I lived in a 4 bedroom house for under $1000 at one point, but that was cheap)
--The New Pioneer Co-Op is a fabulous place for organic and health conscious food (and reasonably priced, considering what organic stuff goes for)
--John's Grocery has one of the best wine/beer rooms in the state of Iowa
--Ethnic food options mostly suck, but Masala serves Indian (vegetarian)
--the bars are okay-- if you're a writer, you'll probably barricade yourself in the likes of the Foxhead or Georges anyway.
--In-state tuition is $3 k a year (super cheap) and if you get even 1/4th time t.a. you're assessed in-state tuition.
--In short, you can live very well, and cheaply, in I.C., even if you end up on the bottom of the financial tiers.
--the weather-- winters are cold and very windy. Springs are lovely-- you'll start feeling hope in March but they don't actually come until Apr./May-- summers are very hot-- fall is beautiful and has great changing leaves-- winter doesn't truly start until December
--there aren't a lot of outdoor opportunities, but you can get out into the country and the rolling hills of Iowa relatively quickly with a car (many do, surprisingly enough, become entranced with this supposedly "flat" land)

If people have other questions, I'm happy to answer.

And somebody, please post relevant info about Boston and Amherst!

Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels

Ms. Mystery

Feb 28, 2006, 1:48 PM

Post #14 of 333 (12349 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] The program's great, but the food sucks: local life! Can't Post

Hey everybody. I'm not sure how many people applied to the University of Pittsburgh, but if you did & want insider info on Pittsburgh, I'm your girl.

First of all, the cost of living is really low. I currently have a huge apartment located centrally between a lot of great neighborhoods, and I love it here. Pittsburgh is truly a city of neighborhoods--most college students only experience Oakland, Shadyside, and Squirrel Hill, but the outlying neighborhoods are full of oddities and wonderment, I promise. We've got lots of museums, including the Warhol, which is the largest museum devoted to a single artist in North America (or something like that). You can take photobooth pictures in the basement and take screenprinting lessons on the weekends.

The weather is pretty notoriously grey and rainy for a lot of the year, but some of us (particularly, I think, those of us who were raised here) kind of love it in that cozy post-industrial way.

Football is a HUGE deal in this town. It's pretty much impossible to live here and not be a Steelers fan, so the earlier you can get on board the better. Nothing beats shouting from your fire escape after a particularly thrilling Steelers victory.

Driving is kind of crazy here--the grid system is most definitely NOT the way things work. Lots of steep hills, bridges, rivers, and weird little lost places abound. We put french fries on our salads AND our sandwiches. It's pretty serious stuff.


P.S. Can anybody tell me about Minneapolis-St. Paul? Thanks!


Feb 28, 2006, 2:06 PM

Post #15 of 333 (12328 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] The program's great, but does the food suck? Local life! Can't Post

If anyone would care to share his knowledge of Fayetteville, Arkansas, I would be much obliged.


Feb 28, 2006, 2:14 PM

Post #16 of 333 (12315 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] The program's great, but does the food suck? Local life! Can't Post

I think there are quite a few of us here who could help out - but if anyone wants any info. on NYC feel free to ask me. There's waaaaay too much to try and sum it up in a paragraph or two, but...

I live in a decent area of Brooklyn (the street prostitutes only get loud in the summer and I've only seen two people shooting heroin outside my door...) but it is close to a lot of fantastic stuff AND my boyfriend and I both have a studio and office, respectively; and we share the place with one other person. The rent is around $2400 a month. It's a steal. In Brooklyn I would expect to pay no less than $700 a month in a shared place. Queens is probably the same, and well, Manhattan is probably just out of the question.

Feel free to write with Q's!


Feb 28, 2006, 2:16 PM

Post #17 of 333 (12315 views)
Re: The program's great, but does the food suck? Local life! Can't Post

Eugene, OR - University of Oregon

I lived in Eugene for three years while completing my undergraduate degree; and the cost of living is very reasonable. I paid $315/mo in 2003-2004, splitting a four bedroom house with three roommates, and $445/mo (including utilities) from 2004-2006, living on my own in a one bedroom apartment. I lived in the immediate vicinity of the U of O campus, however, and most graduate students opt to live in nicer, quieter, and cheaper neighborhoods further away from campus.
The public transportation system in Eugene is great, very reliable. Your U of O ID doubles as a bus pass. It's very easy to get to campus from almost any area of town, but the service does slow down considerably at night and during the weekend. The city is great for cyclists, though, and it's also super easy (and very safe, tons of bike lanes and such) to get around on two wheels.
There are tons of health food stores in Eugene, and it's a haven for vegans and vegetarians. Most are independently owned (Sundance, the Kiva, the Red Barn), and the others are relatively small chains (Market of Choice, Acapella). There are plenty of ethnic food options and literally every restaurant in town has an extensive vegetarian menu. My only gripe is that there isn't any good mexican food.
The campus area has a couple of bars, but the only ones really worth going to are Max's (the inspiration for Mo's from the Simpsons) and the Indigo District (good drinks, smarmy hipster central). The rest of the good bars are downtown (John Henry's, the Horsehead, Sam Bond's Garage). WOW hall hosts lots of great shows, it's downtown as well.
Culturally, Eugene is a little hit-or-miss. There is a great independent movie house, the Bijou, which still has obscenely low ticket prices and plays new releases, "classics" (like big lebowski shout-alongs and whatnot) and animation festivals. The University of Oregon museum of art just (FINALLY) re-opened and has a great permanant exhibit of Chinese, Korean and Japanese art, as well as good rotating exhibits (there have been Picasso and Warhol since it opened in Jan. 2005). Henry Rollins loves to do spoken word shows in Eugene. There are tons of small DIY-style venues with exhibits and shows from small bands and such, but they are hit-or-miss as well. Eugene is only an hour's drive from Portland (if you speed). Frank Black definitely has close friends in Eugene and I have seen him around town once or twice, if that's your thing.
Eugene's a great place if you love the outdoors. In the winter there is skiing, ice climbing, hiking, snowshoeing available. Floating in innertubes down the Willamette and the Mckenzie rivers is a popular pasttime in the summer, along with hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, boating, fishing, and literally anything else you can think of. The scenery is breathtaking and it's only an hour away from the BEAUTIFUL coast. Florence, the town most visited, has great dunes and absolutely beautiful views.
In the summer, there's also this huge gathering called the Oregon Country Fair outside Eugene. It's basically full of hippies (like Eugene) and it's a weekend full of weird vegan food, drum circles, tye-dye and hallucinogenic drugs.
This is getting long, and if anyone even ends up going to U of O (which they should LOVE, i loved it), I will share more upon request.


Feb 28, 2006, 2:22 PM

Post #18 of 333 (12303 views)
Re: [franz] The program's great, but the food sucks: local life! Can't Post

Boston is wonderful but the cost of living is quite high, though there's cheap housing depending on where you're willing to live. Jamaica Plain is on the Orange Line and I paid $400 for a good room share there four years ago, but that's unusual.

As a city, Boston is clean but possibly a bit cold and Puritanical. Bars and clubs close at 2 a.m. The ballet and symphony are both great. There are a bunch of co-ops in Cambridge, Trader Joe's, etc. Restaurants abound.

Don't know exactly where the writing program is based, but I know that Emerson's buildings are in the heart of Boston, so it's also possible to live in Davis Square or other areas in Somerville, which are awesome.

The intellectual life is amazing if you get plugged into the whole academic scene. It's also a fairly active and vibrant writing community. One drawback I could see with Emerson is that its focus for undergrads is much more communications based rather than general liberal arts, and I'm more of a hard core liberal arts person. Of course, I was a snotty Harvard undergrad so take that with a grain of salt.

I lived there for nine years so I have lots of tips if you end up going. Let me know!


Feb 28, 2006, 2:31 PM

Post #19 of 333 (12293 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] The program's great, but does the food sucks? Local life! Can't Post

For Cornell acceptees:

First of all, let me preface this by saying that I love living in Ithaca. In fact, I will be spending my summer here.

Let me start with the problems I've found throughout my time here, which may or may not apply to you:

Ithaca is cold and grey for most of the year. The Pac NW is known for it's rainy weather, but Ithaca is no different. Today I walked to class in 15 degree air with a negative wind chill. Everyone jokes with me about how rainy Eugene will be if I'm accepted, but trust me--a 45 degree, rainy winter is much better than a 20 degree, snowy one, even if you have a few more sunny days in there. No sunlight will make up for a *high* of 5-15 degrees, I can assure you. And Cornell NEVER cancels class or closes. There would have to be a -40 degree wind chill, or the monster of all storms, for that to happen.

Sometimes Ithaca is not receptive to students, although that may be more related to undergraduates. For example, in Collegetown, a place where lots of Cornell students live, the cost of meter parking went up drastically this year. I think it's 25 cents for 10 minutes now. This is because the committee intentionally held their meeting during winter break, when the Cornell student representatives were visiting their families. This is not the first time they have intentionally held a meeting during a period when they knew students would not be around to challenge them. Collegetown businesses sometimes suffer because of these decisions.

Recently, a noise law was passed: police may enter a "loud" home without a noise complaint. This seems unfair to me, in the same tradition of the Patriot Act--what constitutes "too loud"? A "party"? Though bars in NY state may remain open until 4am, Ithaca bars follow more conservative Connecticut times: last call is at 12:30 on weeknights and 1:30 on weekends. Keep in mind that this is a town where the majority of residents are students and faculty, since Cornell alone has probably 17,000 students, and Ithaca College has around 7,000.

Cornell is sometimes not received well in the community because of its size and influence. Sometimes Cornell as an institution wants to do frustrating things in its own interest--like pave woods to construct a parking lot--against the wishes of the city and even its own students (see: Redbud Woods). As a result, Cornell in general sometimes feels like its own separate body, and I've found myself embarassed to say "I got to Cornell" because sometimes I feel as if the person might consider me an "elitist."

But that's all for me. Weather and town-gown relations.

The gorges are breathtaking, even in the winter. If you drive to Taughannock Falls during January or February, it looks like an ice castle from a fairytale. Lots of the gorges on the Cornell campus freeze in mid-flow, which is kind of scary but beautiful at the same time. In late Spring, after the thaw, you can easily hike down and through them. This is my favorite thing to do on a nice day. It's especially good for writing.

Cornell also has a beautiful campus in general. It is very green when the snow melts. We have plantations--near the Agriculture school--with a plethora of different flower and plant species, most of which are labeled. Go farther, and there are apple orchards, from which Cornell makes apple juice to sell in its ala carte dining places. There are horses and cows for the Agriculture students as well.

Ithaca has lots of community activities: chili cook-off in February, apple festival in autumn, Light in Winter festival, a music festival in the summer, etc. There is local theatre (and of course Ithaca College theatre and Cornell theatre). My favorite thing is the Farmers' Market, which runs from April-October. You can get lots of organic produce, and even meat if you're into that, for much cheaper than in stores, and several restaurants and bakeries also set up there. It's just a great thing to have; farmers come from all over the area.

There is a community space called The Commons, which has lots of local stores and restaurants, including the famous Moosewood Restaurant, and some headshops and great used bookstores. I buy all my used vinyls down there. It's also the place where all the festivals and town events are held.

When there is no Farmers' Market, Ithaca has a nice natural foods co-op called GreenStar, which offers organic and natural food for decent prices. If you aren't as into sustainable farming/healthy eating as I am you can always shop at the Wegman's, which is actually a very impressive supermarket, with lots of gourmet cheeses and all kinds of interesting products, like kumquats and stuff.

There are three independent movie theatres: Cornell has one, and then there are two more elsewhere. Between the three, there will almost always be a good film. And, if you get sick of the indie films, there is a mainstream movie theatre that you can get to by bus or car. The theatre is located in a mall, which is not impressive but has your typical mall stores if you're into shopping: The Gap, Old Navy, Target, Abercrombie and Fitch, etc.

Ithaca is overall a very politically liberal place, probably because of the colleges. This is a very postive thing for me; it may be a negative one for you. A common bumper sticker is, "Ithaca is not George's" (as a joke on "Ithaca is Gorges"). There are all sorts of groups around that work to promote progessive thinking and awareness. For example, a Walmart eventually came to Ithaca (you won't see it around Cornell or the Commons; it's located far downtown). The Ithaca Living Wage Coalition has been trying to fight them to pay a living wage since even before they arrived. They showed the Walmart Movie at the Commons and had a discussion group afterwards. Or, in early Fall, there was an anti-war "sit-in" on the Commons that featured lots of information booths for various groups and some speakers. Overall, people here care one way or another. Even though it's mainly liberal, Ithaca is dynamic: there are conservative groups as well. Cornell has two conservative newspapers (one of which is fine, and one that is the laughing stock of the school).

There are lots of cafes as well. Gimme Coffee has the best coffee in my opinion, but my favorite place to hangout is the ABC Cafe, a vegetarian place, where they have open jazz night. Some places have open poetry readings.

Overall, it's just a community oriented place. Gimme Coffee, Purity Ice Cream, Ithaca Bakery/Collegetown Bagels, and the Ithaca Brewery (some of the beers are really tasty) are all local places--businesses that originated in Ithaca. If you want to drive a little farther, by Wegman's, Home Depot and Walmart, you can find McDonalds and Taco Bell, but none of the big chains have really succeeded in derailing local businesses. They seem to coexist peacefully. The town supports its "own."

Lots of Cornell students seem to complain about Ithaca, but I think it's because they're used to bigger cities. There is a bar scene but it is nothing compared to other places. It is small, but I'm a nature-person and I like the rural feel. Ithaca is also bigger than it seems.

I'm not sure about rent for grad students. If you have a car it will be easy to find a cheap enough place. If you need to be close to campus, it may be harder, because rent very close to the college is obviously going to be steeper. Cornell has grad housing available (condos or apartments). If you don't want to be near lots of undergraduates, North Campus is better than Collegetown. If you have a car or don't mind having to take a bus everday, I would live on or near the Commons. A parking permit at Cornell is not exactly cheap, so keep that in mind.

Also, I do like the restaurants here. Lots of Thai food (the best is Thai Cuisine, with Taste of Thai as a close second). Moosewood is pretty good. Collegetown has more college-y food, like pizza slices and bagels. The Commons has more "nice" restaurants, like Madeline's and Taste of Thai. If you can drive, Zaza's Cucina has very good Italian food and Maxie's has good Cajun food.

If you have a car or know someone who does, something that's fun to do in warmer weather--besides driving to all the parks and waterfalls to hike and all that--is a wine tour. You drive along Seneca or Cayuga lake, and on a nice, blue day it's a beautiful road.

So between wine tours, food festivals, bars, cafes, restaurants, three theatres, plays, academic and literary readings, concerts, etc., there are plenty of things to do here. I wouldn't listen to people who tell you "it's in the middle of nowhere." Yes, Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere, and you will pass abandoned barns and all that rural stuff to get here, but once you're inside you'll find things to do.

That was long. I'm procrastinating writing a paper, so you understand. Good luck.

Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Feb 28, 2006, 2:32 PM

Post #20 of 333 (12292 views)
Re: [sibyline] The program's great, but the food sucks: local life! Can't Post

More on Boston, or specifically, Cambridge & Somerville (as those are essentially where I spend 99% of my time):

--Davis Square, Porter Square, Central Square are great areas to live in/look for roommate or shared living situations in that are right on the red line of the T (Boston's lingo for 'subway')
--Inman Square, Union Square, Huron Village, Cambridgeport are other areas in the Cambridge/Somerville area that have a decent vibe, are comfortable, and have enough roommate situations where you can reasonably look to pay $500-600
--Save money for the upshoot in utilities in the winter; it's not unusual for a heating bill in a winter month to climb above $200 for the whole apartment
--There are some really fabulous used bookstores close to the T stations
--Grolier Poetry Bookshop, in Harvard Square, has a pretty good reading series
--The Harvard Advocate also sponsors a good poetry reading series, though you'd likely have to inquire at the HA house in harvard square since I don't think they advertise on the web
--There are some really great bars & pubs, and they range in scale from total dive and no-frills to hip to hoity toity
--The live music scene is amazing. Since last summer I have seen Lucinda Williams, Death Cab for Cutie, Youth Group, Ray LaMontagne, Stars--and in the next month-ish I am seeing The Damnwells, Augustana, and Built to Spill. I am missing out on five million amazing concerts, including Belle & Sebastian, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Wolf Parade.
--There are many concerts in the Cambridge/Somerville area, as well as in downtown venues, where you can spend under $15.
--On weekends the T and bus run until about 2 in the morning.
--There are some really good free health clinics in the area
--Lots of bicycle stores
--Craig's List is amazingly active much more to say, and I have to post about Gainesville, though I'm distracted with things here at work. So...

Steph. :)


Feb 28, 2006, 3:08 PM

Post #21 of 333 (12264 views)
Re: [franz] The program's great, but the food sucks: local life! Can't Post


Thanks for the info about Iowa City . . . it looks like I'll be headed there in the fall so I am glad to here that it is a (relatively) inexpensive place to live. Are there any particular neighborhoods you would suggest living in? I'm 30 y/o and married, no kids (but a big dog). I'd like to live near campus, but not in an undergrad slum. I'm thinking I'll need something with a garage and/or a yard (for the dog).

Thanks so much. BTW, congrats on UMASS.


Feb 28, 2006, 3:08 PM

Post #22 of 333 (12264 views)
Re: [sarandipidy] The program's great, but does the food sucks? Local life! Can't Post

holy crap sarandipidy, when you procrastinate, you procrastinate. thanks for the 411. very psyched to know which Thai place to hit.


Feb 28, 2006, 4:52 PM

Post #23 of 333 (12210 views)
Re: [theapplepicker] The program's great, but does the food suck? Local life! Can't Post

Yeah... Fayetteville...

did you apply to the Arkansas program, and if so, have you already heard?

Anyway, depending on what you're used to and/or what you're looking for, Fayetteville can be anywhere from really awesome to downright depressing. The nightlife is limited to a small strip of town with a dozen or so clubs and bars, only a few of which I find tolerable enough to visit. (Common Grounds, Brewskis, Maxines.) There are several good locally owned restaurants within walking distance of the campus, ranging from the typical college-town pizzerias and burrito joints to more upscale italian and french establishments. Further from campus you'll find a fairly wide assortment of ethnic restaurants too. A few thai restaurants, some middle-eastern restaurants, a wide assortment of Mexican restaurants, Chinese (of course), Japanese/Sushi (not always the same thing around here), and a pretty good Indian restaurant (in Bentonville). There are a few movie theaters, but they generally play the blockbusters--there isn't an independent theater, so you often have to wait for months to see the hot "indie" films or drive to Tulsa or Kansas City. (If movies are that important to you.) The Fayetteville Public Library is brand new (it reopened in a new building last year) and it was named Library Journal's library of the year last summer. (Needless to say, it's excellent.) There's a really nice used book store not far from campus that I still consider to be one of the best used book stores I've ever been to. The cultural climate is pretty stagnant right now. There is hardly any worthwhile live music that makes it through anymore, as most of the live venues have either shifted to having DJ'ed dance parties to make more money or slowly moved toward booking cover bands who appease the business men from nearby Bentonville. Fayetteville's got a nice natural food store, which, though overpriced and staffed by some incredibly unfriedly people, has a good selection of foods unavailable elsewhere in town.

The political and cultural climate is a bit schizophrenic. In the past, Fayetteville has been a hippy town. In the sixties, people moved to the area and built Walden-esque cabins in the woods and grew beards and became one with nature and all that. Nowadays, you'll see tons of dudes with dreadlocks playing bongos, and lots of girls wearing sundresses and the like. But since Wal-Mart is based out of Bentonville nearby, there's a lot of (ahem... right-wing/christian) money pumping through the area these days, and pretty much everywhere you go, you're going to see "W" stickers on giant SUVs. And you'll see lots of anti-abortion bumper stickers and stuff like that too. Every so often, you'll see the odd human embodiment of the two, seemingly opposed worldviews: the hippy guy with the pro-life t-shirt, or, stranger yet, the giant SUV with a greenpeace sticker.

The one thing that I should emphasize is that the people are, generally, very friendly. And the town is built in the foothills of the Ozark mountains; the natural beauty of the area is unquestionable. (N.B.: If you don't like trees, don't come to Fayetteville. It's like a jungle.) But the place is definitely a small town and there aren't tons of interesting things happening all the time. Interesting things DO happen, but they're usually fairly spaced out.

If you have any more specific questions, I'd be happy to try to help out.


Feb 28, 2006, 6:14 PM

Post #24 of 333 (12163 views)
Re: Boston and Amherst Can't Post

And yet more on Boston: I went to Emerson for undergrad and did a pretty hard-core liberal arts curriculum :) , it's there if you want it--(when you're a Writing, Literature and Publishing major, anyway) the upper-level lit classes are fantastic, and lots of great professors...I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the academics there. If you go, check out William Donoghue and Donald Perret for lit classes, they're truly above and beyond...I'm not sure who teaches graduate fiction workshops right now, so I'll refrain from comment there. I think everyone else covered the city aspect of it pretty well. I live in the South End, and it's very lovely to look at, but can be expensive ( I pay 850 for half a two-bedroom, heat included, which is quite reasonable for downtown, and the apartment is very big) and gentrification is an issue...violence is up in Boston right now but overall I still feel pretty safe and I live on the cusp of what's considered a "bad" area. Boston is definitely a little puritanical and cold, but it's a great place to go to school.

Conveniently, I went to Hampshire College for my first year of college, which is located in Amherst, MA, so I can cover both towns for Franz :) This may be a little garbled, but bear with me--A lot of people LOVE Amherst and the surrounding towns, all together known as the Pioneer Valley. I'm not a huge fan. I can't say why. I didn't like Hampshire, so I'm probably biased, and I was nineteen then, so I couldn't escape to the local bar scene, which is really pretty vibrant, as is the music scene. Lots of resources, academic and social, for a smallish area. Basically, Amherst never excited me, yet I could see grad school there being quite a different experience, in a good way. I had plenty of friends who graduated from Hampshire and stayed in the area because they liked it so much...hope that helps! :)


Feb 28, 2006, 7:48 PM

Post #25 of 333 (12138 views)
Re: [tomyum] The program's great, but does the food suck? Local life! Can't Post

Thanks for the response, tomyum. Yes, I applied to Arkansas, and they accepted me into the program based on my manuscript, and since I supposedly have a contract for a teaching assistantship coming my way, I guess that means the grad school thought my supporting materials were okay.

I love trees. I love natural beauty. And the foothills of the Ozarks sound awesome.

I can live without seeing movies all the time as I'm used to being poor and waiting until the library gets movies, ten years after release. The new and excellent library is really exciting; libraries are my home.

So Bentonville is about 30 miles away from Fayetteville? (That's what MapQuest says.)

Since it's a small town, how do most people get around? Personal vehicle? Bike? Walking? I'm guessing there's not much of a public transportation system?

What is the weather like?

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