Archive for August, 2009

The beginning of life in Bloomington

We’ve made it all the way from Appleton, Wisconsin to Bloomington, Indiana.

Actually, we got here two weeks ago, but between organizing the apartment and grad school orientation, I haven’t had time to update. Paul and I have been busy converting our little two bedroom apartment up the road from Indiana University into a place we can call home. Figuring out finances, how to shop for and cook meals every night, getting ready for school (and trying to find a job), filling the hours of new found free time, and just generally learning how to live together.

There’s something special about your first apartment, I think. For me, it’s the first time that I’ve been responsible for paying my own rent, buying groceries and cooking for myself, getting myself to school and work, even making my own coffee. Some of these things I feel more confident about than others. Paul and I have been cooking some pretty killer food, thanks to inspiration from Food Network, but I still can’t figure out how to make coffee that tastes as good as the stuff my dad makes. (Actually, the brews I’ve crafted aren’t even drinkable, to be honest.) I think I’m getting pretty good at budgeting and keeping track of expenses, thanks to the application of a brand new grad school Excel technique I’ve learned called Pivot Tables. (Yes, I’m excited. And a huge nerd, it’s okay.) I’ve figured out how to take the bus to and from SPEA, which is 1.6 miles away from my apartment. (Though knowing how to take the bus still can’t save me from waiting an hour when the bus only vaguely sticks to what appears to be an attempt at that which most of us would call a “schedule.”) Paul and I have even mastered knowing the best place to park at the local Farmer’s Market (and we also know which vegetables are cheaper at the market, and which are better bought at Kroger’s).

I love Bloomington. Classes start at SPEA on Monday, and I can’t wait to see if my reason for coming to this wonderful little town is all that I’ve anticipated. Orientation this past week was informative and necessary, but what I’m really looking forward to is grad school classes that focus on my beloved field of environmental studies. I have crafted a partial curriculum at SPEA that I hope will prepare me for work in communities, encouraging sustainable economic, social and environmental aspects of community development. This term, I’ll be taking Sustainable Development, Public Management Economics, Environmental Chemistry, and Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making. I’m most looking forward to the first class. “Sustainable development” has been my personal buzz word and phrase of interest and inspiration since I came across the term in a high school history class. It has long fascinated me that two words so seemingly opposite – “development,” meaning economic progress, change for the better, increased quality of lifestyle, and “sustainable,” meaning perpetuating, lasting, capable of maintaining itself – could be juxtaposed in so much environmental, political, and economic literature. Development, as improving the quality of life, could surely not continue in perpetuity, could not be sustainable. Could it? As an environmentalist, I have to wish it can be true. But the economist in me is less sure. I’m hoping this term at SPEA will help me begin to clarify and define just what “sustainable development” is, and help me understand whether it can be a part of environmentally-friendly, sustainable communities.

Oh, and help me begin to figure out how I fit in to all this.