Apr 20, 2007, 3:05 AM
Post #7 of 145
i'm ending my first year. almost all first years work in the writing center for 20 hours a week as tutors. Pay is a little over 1k per month after taxes. Most first years don't have the opportunity to teach and very limited employment over the summer. if, like me, you come in with 18 hours or more of graduate work in english or creative writing, they make you teach right away. if, like me, you don't come it with teaching experience, the first semester will be spent teaching one class of freshman composition. there's a one unit pedagogy course you have to take each semester for your first year of teaching and you have to take a 3 unit comp pedagogy theory course. Most people take 2-3 courses each semester. After you've taught for a year you have the opportunity to teach during the summer and don't have to take courses--i'm teaching an online course. after teaching for a year you become eligible to teach an intro creative writing course and they set it up so that everyone is entitled to at least on semester of teaching it (when you do, you will teach one creative writing course and another course). after a year of teaching, you become eligible to teach an honors freshman comp course that is way more flexible (though, they give a lot of flexibility to designing most courses). after a year of teaching and at least two graduate english courses in the same field (i.e modern brit lit or early american lit) you become eligible to teach an intro literature program. there is also a living-learning program that i am teaching next year (great for the cv).
no need to worry about not getting into the class you want: you sign up by going to your advising appt. first come, first served. when registration happens, even if people take your spot (which they aren't supposed to do) the dept will just give you an over-ride. there are generally between two fiction and two poetry workshops each semester. there are generally several craft courses each semester. some of the english professors will allow creative papers/projects in lieu of regular research/academic papers.
there are mfa readings most friday afternoons of each semester (more in the fall than the spring) and are open to all mfa students regardless of year. there are bankhead readings most thursday evenings where they bring in cool writers and there are parties afterwards at prof's and student's houses.
people like to hang out at the downtown pub.
tuscaloosa is a crappy football town. but the english dept is cool and way in to meet other cool people (like the MFA people in the book arts and fine arts depts and the library science people, for example). there is a new SDS chapter that is run by an MFA poet.
there's a real appreciation for experimentation and i have never, even as a very experimental and queer writer, been on the receiving end of hostility to my writing.
uh, rent is cheap to the point of stupidity. in sf i paid 1200 for a one bedroom. we're paying 365 for a one bedroom here and will be paying 450 for a two bedroom when we move next month.
tuscaloosa is boring. tuscaloosa has no viable public transportation and not a lot of sidewalks.
there is a natural foods store.
you can't buy alcohol on sundays.
you can't find beer over 6% alcohol, which means that you won't find any belgium goodies or barley wine. and you have to buy liquor from the state store where they charge a 15% tax.
birmingham ain't far and there are some cool parts to it. it is awesome by comparison. they have a few clubs where cool bands come once in a blue moon.
mfa grad students are the majority in the english dept, which is weird. it's a position of some privilege--which shouldn't be abused as it causes some hostility from the lit and comp grads. but, overall, people get along ok.
they started giving free health insurance (but it's not very good if you ever have to go outside of the student health center).
it ain't perfect. but i don't at all regret my decision. i got into unlv as well. it was a hard decision. but alabama was my first choice and unlv my second and there's that. i'm getting teaching experience, which i wanted. my writing feels welcome. i have time to write. and i get paid not enough that i'm happy about, but enough to get by on for a single person. which i'm not, which is why we need more income and my other works full time on campus.