Tuck-of-War

Who is richer? A millionaire who has never left the continental U.S.? Or someone of the same age who has just enough money in the bank account for his next trip to his 150th country?
With the arrival of the new year, I am becoming ever more anxious with the upcoming decisions of graduate school admissions. Of the three rolling admissions schools, I have only received one acceptance, and agonizingly waiting for an answer from LSE and Sciences Po Paris.

Besides obsessively checking my email and logging onto my personal applicant space, I’ve also been thinking about how I will foot the bill of one of these fancy schools. The saying goes that if there is a will, there is a way. And that was the mantra I took to while applying to nothing but prestigious, and also expensive institutions. I thought, “well, if I get in, then I’ll find a way to pay for it.”

Let’s just say the process is more complicated and discouraging than imagined. Many of the scholarships and fellowships I have researched target toward citizens of developing nations and I can’t express how frustrating to be LIVING in one for past 20 months, working at the ground level, and still NOT be eligible for these awards base solely on the country of my passport.

The search of funding leads to bigger questions. Is it worth a big price tag to have an education that I’ve always dreamed of? Having debt already accumulated from undergraduate also sets me back quite a bit, and the question is, are the loans worth the experiences I had? Absolutely.

I was fortunate to have received several scholarships that funded my undergraduate education, thus most of the loans were to finance living expenses and the extensive travel that I did abroad. Sure, I could’ve been more frugal, eat a lot more ramen, traveled a lot less, etc., but if the world ends tomorrow, I will know that I have lived to the fullest and experienced all that I could within reason.

To what extent do we need to be “practical” and at what point do we “live in the moment” and seize experiences in the world? These questions have been circling my head with my time in the Peace Corps rapidly coming to an end, the next step dangerously close in sight, the future and that scary place that is modern society awaiting me.

I read Tuesdays with Morrie in one day this week. And this quote has been on my mind:

So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.

Something to really think about.

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