Growing up, Bruce Springsteen was always a favorite of many people in my hometown. Maybe it was because of his patriotic songs that continue to be anthems to generation after generation. Maybe it was because of his rock star persona that earned him one of the best nicknames ever. Maybe it was because of his local and musical ties to the City of Brotherly Love. I never quite understood the obsession until his song “My Hometown” came on the radio during my summer vacation road trip.
The last verse reads:
Last night me and Kate, we laid in bed,
Talking about getting out, packing up our bags and maybe heading south.
I’m thirty-five, we got a boy of our own now,
Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said,
“Son take a good look around, this is your hometown.”
Then, it finally hit me. Perhaps the reason why so many people in the area loved The Boss was because of the fact that they could easily identify with the lyrics of hometowns and glory days. Perhaps, like Bruce and Kate, they missed the opportunity to leave and have been stuck in the same city ever since. Perhaps they are now always finding themselves wondering and “talking about getting out.”
Attending Graduate School gives you the opportunity to avoid wondering all of the “what ifs” and “could have beens.” The best advice that I could ever give is: take it!
I don’t say this because I think that people should be wanderlust travelers or because I think that never leaving the same place shows a lack of ambition or because I think that I have a poor relationship with my hometown. In fact, I plan on returning to eastern Pennsylvania because it is home and nothing ever beats home. I say this because when I do go back, I know I won’t ever wonder if I belong somewhere else.
I didn’t apply to a school in central Texas by accident. I was always decent at geography and knew what I was getting myself into moving a two-day car ride away. The truth is that I’m using my time in Graduate School as a trial period – a trial period for discovering if I can live away from my entire family and lifelong friends and everything that I have known for the first twenty-two years of my life. I did it now because I want to know where to look for employment after I graduate. I want to know if I can look in Texas or further away on the West Coast or if I need to look closer to home. I want to know this before I accept a job that I’ll have to leave in a few months because I’m too lonely or scared and send my career careening backwards.
Graduate School is not only a time for challenging ourselves inside the classrooms and research labs, but it is also a time for learning what environments we enjoy. Our time in school, despite some of our best efforts, has an expiration date. Our job is to be as prepared as possible when that time inevitably comes. It doesn’t matter if we end up where we started or halfway across the world. If we took the time to learn in Graduate School where we can make it, then we’ll know that it won’t matter.
Written by: Matthew Doyen