September 2, 2012

Missing Mount Allison University

So it's been nearly four months since I said my heartfelt goodbye to Mount Allison University, Sackville, and my friends there.

Since then I worked at a cafe for about a month before moving out to Syracuse, NY to attend the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. I've already finished a 6-week semester in PR writing and graphic design, earning and A and A- respectively. I've met a lot of people from well, actually not that diverse of backgrounds. A lot of people in public relations took English, Communications, or Public Relations in undergrad. I know of only two other Canadians out of over two hundred graduate students here. 

I'm just now starting the full fall semester here. I'm taking these courses:

PRL 605 Public Relations Theory
This course covers theories of excellence in public relations by looking at models, roles, communication, organizational culture, diversity and ethics. A brief overview of communication theory included. Theories form the foundation for professional practice.
PRL 611 Public Relations Research
Nature, formation, and communications of attitudes and public opinion in public relations settings. Application of social science methods for measuring attitudes, opinions, and public relations performances. Actual research designed and carried out for client.
PRL 614 Advanced Public Relations Writing for Digital Platforms
This course builds on the students’ understanding of news writing and fundamental writing skills emphasized and developed in PRL 604 by introducing them to social media and writing for an online, digital world.
COM 698 Media Law
Problems in media law, including libel, privacy, fair trial/free press, obscenity.
It's been not too difficult so far. There is going to be a lot of work and a lot of reading but I've been through much tougher times at Mt A. Part of that is due to all the love and support I had from my friends but that experience also imbued within me a great sense of optimism, endurance, and confidence. I miss my friends a lot more than I'd care to admit here but I know that they care for me and believe in me. I know that if life turned sour I could call them up and they'd know how to help. I've tried to keep up with some of them but it can be difficult. While it's a sad fact of life I may not see all of them again I know if I see those that have made the biggest impact in my life we could pick up where we left off. I'm making good friendships now but I also realize that was a special time in my life.

I knew I'd be taking these courses and I had a general idea of what environment Syracuse is but it really is a completely different world from Sackville, NB. To be honest the first couple weeks were a bit difficult. I chose to live on my own this year and while I'm incredibly glad about that decision there were a a few days it was lonely.

Even when I was arguing with my roommates or hated people down the hall in residence I at least knew there were friends nearby to care and look after me. The first few days here I had nothing, knew nobody, and was a foreigner again. I had to alter the "where are you from" story for the first time since first year at Mt. A.

[By the way...nobody around here knows what Atlantic Canada or New Brunswick, much less Mount Allison University is so anybody reading this really needs to cut the communication department some slack. They have a hard job trying to bring attention to a school a lot of people (even a lot of Canadians) think is in the middle nowhere.]

My short where are you from response is "I was born in Canada, grew up outside Chicago and did my undergrad at a small school in eastern Canada."

I've met a lot of people to the point where most any night I feel the need to be social I can be. I feel well-liked by people I respect, feel as though I'm in the right place, and am generally happy. I haven't quite found my niche or made my mark the way I did at Mt A. but if I'm working on it.

What I came here with the knowledge of (and some people are just starting to adjust to) is the fact that this isn't just a continuation of undergrad. Sure, for me the coursework may not be much more challenging but this is a professional program. We need an internship for January and a full-time job (I'd really much rather not intern for free anywhere ever again) for May. I'm paying tens of thousands of dollars I need to pay interest on. It's not just for a mark on a transcript or a pat on the back, it's to learn the skills and have the experience to get a job I enjoy just eight months from now. You'll have to excuse me if I don't want to go to some nondescript bar twice a week and drink like I'm a 19-year old frat boy. Moving on.

My life has been pretty full-steam ahead lately. I just ended a less-than-productive remote summer internship for a start-up tech company. I've nominated myself to be a representative on a student representative committee (ideally the search or tenure committee), asked to audit a New Media Business class, and applied to what could possibly be the best research assistant position I've ever seen doing research on social media platforms.

I've also started getting back in shape, began dating a really amazing aspiring art director from Los Angeles, and am seriously considering moving to the San Francisco Bay Area following this program.

[The Bay Area has a high concentration of highly paid PR Managers.'s in California. In addition flights from here to L.A. are cheaper than from here to Moncton. I may be going out west in search of employment this winter break.]

So all in all things are going really well for me and depending on how this week goes they may improve even further. I've been thinking about the present and the future a lot.

However, this morning I played this Foo Fighters - Another Round which I played a lot in Sackville. It got me to thinking about being back there, specifically getting another round of (Alexander) Keith's (India Pale Ale) with some friends at Ducky's. I remember at times desperately needing something new but when my last classes were over I began romanticizing the town I sometimes could not stand to live in. Walking around Syracuse last night I immediately recognized how much better a place Sackville was to grow up in than here.

Mount Allison and Sackville both played an immeasurably important part in my life. It's both why I never thought I would 'sell-out' and work in a corporate setting and part of what gave me the strength to let go of everything, lose my bearings again, and really get the most out of life. Thank you Mount Allison. Maybe I'll see you again some day. For now, here's this song:

I'll be writing about any positions I land on my new blog, and I may return here with any major life updates.




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