In a Quandary…..

As many of you know, I am currently working on my Master’s Degree. I am working through the Bread Loaf School of English (affiliated with Middlebury College) and it is definitely geared towards teachers. In essence the program requires students to take two classes each summer for 5 summers in order to earn a Master of Arts degree. The vast majority of these classes are literature based, with a requirement that 2 of the classes be British Literature prior to 1700; 2 classes be British Literature post 1700; 1 American Literature; and 1 World Literature course. The remaining 4 courses can be electives.

I have currently completed 2 summers — one in Santa Fe, NM where I took a course on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and a course on Victorian Narratives; and last summer I attended the campus in Asheville, NC where I took a course called Rewriting Your Life and one on Teaching Shakespeare.
There are two other campuses that I can attend, or I can go back to either of the above locations. My quandary is that I really…REALLY…REALLY want to go to Oxford. They have a class entitled, Atlantic Crossings: Anglo-American Literary Relations from 1798-1900 —and it will fulfill two of my remaining American Lit and Brit Lit post 1700 requirements. The problem is….of course….money. I am just not sure that I swing the cost and even if I can – there will be the added airfare expense and the inevitable sight-seeing excursions that I know I will want to take. Somehow it just does not seem fair to my family if I do this. YET….this is truly a chance of a lifetime and a window of opportunity. I am clueless how to proceed. Any wisdom or advice from you literary experts out there would be greatly appreciated.

NOW…this does have a direct impact on blogging. See, if I take this course then I think I can safely join some other reading challenges that have tempted me for weeks, namely the Typically British reading challenge and the Chunkster challenge. The required reading for this susmmer course includes Moby Dick and The Mill on the Floss (definitely chunkster material), as well as Walden, Scarlet Letter, selections from Edgar Allan Poe, Frankenstein, and The House of Mirth.
On the other hand, if I do not go to Oxford, then I will probably return to Asheville, where I will take another writing course (this time focusing on Writing about Place) and a course solely devoted to Faulkner (whom I have never read, but the professor is amazing and I have been told that I simply must take him before I graduate). I guess if Oxford does not pan out, I can offer my own reading challenge on Faulkner material (just trying to look on the bright side of things). AND…if I do not go to England then there is the very good chance that I can attend the Book Expo of America 2010 in New York City – which was quite the blast year.
Anyway, there is my dilemma. I do not have to decide on a campus until mid-February, but for those of you who know me, I do like to have all my ducks in a row as soon as possible. If you have any opinion whatsoever regarding this “momentous” decision 🙂 —- I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.


  • Kathrin

    Molly, I indeed think going to Oxford for this summer's classes might be an opportunity of a lifetime. So, if you *can* swing the cost, I'd say go for it. I'm sure your family will understand and support you – and it is only for the summer.
    I know it is an expensive thing to do, but when will you have the chance again? Will you ever? In addition, you'll have the experience of having lived and studied abroad, you might make friends that could help you further in your career post M.A., even.

    That's just from a student, who would jump at about every opportunity to leave her university for one semester (and eventually will just do that, I'm saving up money as we speak)…

  • Bonnie

    What an opportunity Molly and what a decision! I would suggest that if you can swing the expense to go to Oxford that you should go. That is an opportunity of a lifetime that may not happen again. Also, what an impressive experience to have on your resume as well. On the other hand, if you cannot afford it then you have a wonderful alternative with the classes in Asheville and the opportunity to atten BEA. Good luck, let us know what you decide to do.

  • Sandy Nawrot

    I can imagine how torn you are. It sounds like life would not be so bad if you went back to Ashville, with that Faulkner class. But my husband and I have always had this mantra…if you can do it now, then go for it. You don't want to have regrets.

  • Jenny

    Speaking as a teacher… I have traveled abroad and the experiences I encountered there have made me a much better teacher. There is just something magic about saying…"When we were in Westminster and saw the Coronation Chair used since William the Conquerer was crowned…" Kids seem to perk up when they realize you have "been there, done that". So, I say if you can make it happen, go to Oxford!

  • Kristen

    I would probably sell my kids for the chance to go to Oxford. (Don't tell them I said that!) But I understand your concerns. Good luck noodling through to a decision.

  • Rodger Coleman

    Hi, Molly!

    Well, since you really REALLY want to go to Oxford, then you should try to make that dream a reality. I am sure your family will be most supportive.

    On the other hand, I do think the writing class and Faulkner sound fabulous. Your writing is excellent and I'd love to see you take it further. And, although I do not read much fiction, I have read a lot of Faulkner and he is wonderful — THE great American novelist, IMHO. So, there might be other advantages to being stateside next summer.

    Just my two cents!
    Your loving brother.

  • Alyce

    Wow, Oxford really sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity! I hope that everything sorts itself out so that this is an easier decision for you. I wouldn't even know where to start.

  • Michelle

    Oh, Molly! Oxford? Screw the money! What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!! I say jump at it with both feet and don't look back. If you don't, you will always wonder what-if.

  • Oh

    Quite a quandry, perhaps. And yet somehow the op for Oxford seems impossible to pass up. Things work out. Your family will be cheering for you should you accept. As for the little side trips and other temptations that crop up when living/traveling abroad, well, somehow they always work out. I hope that (vote) you go, fly, learn, embrace!

    But somehting tells me that whichever choice you make, it will be the right one.

  • ds

    Oxford, if it is at all possible, would be my choice. As you–and others–say, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. But only you know in your heart how comfortable you would be with either option. Go with your gut: things have a way of working out. And neither place is going anywhere anytime soon…
    Oh is right: whichever you choose, you will make the right decision.
    Good luck!

  • Lisa

    Oxford sounds like a fantastic opportunity. Let me put it to you this way: if one of your children had this opportunity, if it were at all possible, wouldn't you want them to take it?

    Faulkner taught by an excellent professor isn't such a bad fall back plan, though!

  • Beth F

    Be strict with yourself to save money. Realize that it is important to do fabulous things for yourself. It's just a few months (weeks?) your family will survive. I'd miss you at BEA, but Oxford sounds better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: