Strangled creativity?

I haven’t blogged much since starting my PhD studies. In large part, this has been due to my busy schedule and, in general, adjusting to a new and very different lifestyle. But I don’t think that’s the only reason. I’ve been feeling less creative lately. Maybe my head is overcrowded with everything else I’m trying to retain, maybe I’m just too tired all the time to think creatively, but either way, it’s not a good thing. I think it’s about time for me to sit down and re-evaluate some things. After all, thinking creativity should in turn benefit my critical thinking and writing, right? Grr…

Regardless, I should probably try to blog more, if for no other reason than to try and respark my creativity.

I’m baacckkkkk!

Okay, so I took a two-month break. Sue me. I was enjoying every precious second I had left in the glorious city of DC. Now I am living in the less-than-exciting state of Michigan (although it has yet to become the icy wasteland I previously predicted).

On the bright side, school has begun and I’m enjoying it so far. I’m studying social networks and online communities Michigan State’s Media & Information Studies PhD program. I cannot begin to express how amazing it is to work with experts in your field, where you no longer have to second-guess yourself because you have no one more knowledgeable about the subject matter than yourself. Now I am not only being taught by experts, but in some cases, by the people I cited most heavily during my thesis research (i.e., Joe Walther, Nicole Ellison, Cliff Lampe, Chip Steinfield, among others).

So keep your fingers crossed that Lansing grows on me like a dirty fungus and that I don’t crack under the pressures of “PhD paralysis.”
I’ll be trying to update this blog regularly with interesting posts related to my research.

Oh the joys of choosing a place to live (and research) for four long years …

I’m in the middle of deciding which school I want to attend for my PhD. Sometimes, I wish the schools had made it easy for me by only accepting me at one place, so then the decision would be made for me; but alas, that is not the case. So now I am visiting them to meet faculty, see the location (which, of course, is typically in the middle of nowhere) and try and figure out if I can tolerate the place for at least four years.

Tomorrow I fly to Michigan, and I must admit, I’m a little nervous at the prospect of living in the Midwest for four years. I like a little snow, but I don’t think I’m prepared for the winters they have along the Great Lakes. This (left) is what I think of when I think of the northern parts of the U.S., and in some cases, I may not be too far off. Okay, fine, I’m probably far off everywhere except northern Alaska. But still! I’ve been spoiled by living in the Mid-Atlantic and the South my whole life. I’ve never put chains on my tires. In fact, I try to avoid driving whenever there’s even a chance of snow!

So here’s my dilemma. What criteria do I use to choose a program and how much weight do I give to each factor? Location is important, but so is the strength of the program. Will it help me more to get a job if I go to the ivy league school with the ok program or the ok school with the better-known program? Should I go where the professor I want to work with is regardless of other factors, or should I put my ability to survive in that city first?

This is what I have been thinking about the last few weeks, and probably what I will continue to think about over the next month, as I try to make my final decision while finishing my master’s thesis. So if you have been through this before, I would love to hear your advice/story/etc. Anything to aid me in making this rather important decision.