Julie and I live here in Live Oak. The plan has been for Julie to commute to Jacksonville to go to Florida Coastal School of Law for law school for the next three years. I would commute to Tallahassee to go to Florida State University for PhD for the next 3-5 years. After Julie would finish law school, maybe we would move to Tallahassee at least until I finished. Julie would have 15 hours of class time, and I would have 9 hours of class time and 15 hours of assistantship. I was accepting an offer of $20,000 and free tuition for 9 months of 15 hour work weeks. Julie was accepting with an $8,000 per year scholarship. The drive would be expected to be less than 90 minutes each way.
Julie has finished her first week of law school after an orientation and a bookstore fiasco. Her bookstore did not have all of the required books for classes, and it sounds like many of her professors assigned the work anyway. Julie has been struggling to keep up, sleeps very little at night, and doesn’t do anything but read all day and be in pain from all the driving. I have come to realize that when my department said that they will work with me since I would be a commuter, they really didn’t mean it. 9 hours of class time turned in to 14 hours of class time (plus the 15 hour assistantship). What was supposed to be less than 90 minutes of driving turned into 2 to 2.5 hours of driving each way. Furthermore, since the assistantship ended up not being a research assistantship, I would need to do my own research outside of my normal time and beyond my studying and homework. The handbook for my degree changed this year and the requirements are more strict.
We feel very foolish to think that we were going to be able to pull this off. It wasn’t supposed to be this bad. Without going into too much detail about the discussions between Julie and I, pretty much was was decided was that either one of us had to wait, or we had to find separate apartments for the next 3 years and live separately next to our schools. Otherwise, neither of us would finish our programs.
It looks like we are now going to have to find a way to move to Jacksonville. I cancelled all my classes, informed the department, and applied for jobs near Julie’s school. We just signed this one-year lease in July, so I’m not sure how difficult, how much it will cost, or if we are even allowed to get out of our lease. The lease is not well-written, full of typos, and very nebulous regarding early termination of the lease. We’ll have to talk to the landlord; hope she doesn’t get too upset. It is possible that we’re going to have to pay for two apartments until this lease expires. That still would be less than the cost of driving to Tallahassee each day, which was costs $125 per week for 900 miles (multiplied by two people).
So yeah, I probably don’t have to tell you that I feel like a failure right now. I worked and planned so hard to get where I am. I did so much extra work in my masters degree and left with my GPA at a 3.98 in order to get this offer. I was told that I could be readmitted into FSU in three years or apply to other schools. In retrospect, I wish that Julie and I would have just waited a year. It would have given me time to retake and get a higher score on the GRE, and it would have given Julie time to retake and get a higher score on the LSAT and finish her masters degree. If we had just waited a year, maybe we could have gotten accepted into the same school or schools in the same city, and none of this would have happened. That’s not what we did. I hope it doesn’t take me too long to find a job. I hope that I can actually make it in the real world. I really don’t have much confidence in my resume. The fact that I have no real-life job experience and my lack of confidence in the name “UWF” doesn’t make me feel too good in the stomach. I’m sort of trying to come to terms with the fact that I probably won’t ever earn a PhD. Since Julie and I aren’t going to be doing school at the same time, it doesn’t fit well into our lives. I don’t think we want to start having children when Julie is 35. I feel like I’m not being all I can be. I know I could earn a PhD, even with all the occasional self-doubts. This whole Law/PhD thing has been something that has put significant strain on Julie and I for about a year and a half.
I really hate moving all the time. It is time consuming, physically exhausting, and I wonder when will I have a place to call home.