Things I learned in New Haven (x-posted to my Wordpress and Tumblr)

Alright, my friends, at long last, a somewhat more in-depth entry!

My 3rd year of grad school is something of a watershed, at least at my uni. It’s definitely the hardest–even though I’m not taking any more classes, I’m teaching AND studying for orals exams! Now that I’ve succeeded at both, though, I’m what’s called “ABD”–All But Dissertation. As I said in previous entries, that still poses a challenge, but it does mean I no longer have to stay in New Haven, and can now write at home, or, as I said, travel around the US doing research. D:

Thus, given that this will be my last year in New Haven (though perhaps not ever…I do like this city :D), and my last year of living around my uni, I figured I might as well write a bit about my travails in getting settled in here, i.e finding a place to live and whatnot. A post about my graduate school career more generally might come later, but for now, let’s look at some things I did wrong, some things I did right, and what I might do differently next time.

First, arriving at grad school itself was a huge clusterfuck. I went through university housing and ended up getting the wrong room–I didn’t check my which thing they gave me close enough and ended up getting a crappy little dorm without its own semi-private bathroom, which was definitely no good for me D: So lesson number 1: Always check EXACTLY what kind of room you’re being offered BEFORE accepting it! If I’d only been more cautious, it would have saved me a ton of time and aggravation, as well moving fees on top of that. And on that note…

Secondly, even getting a new room was annoying. I DID manage to get another suite, and this one was pretty nice, with only a shared bathroom…or at least it seemed so at first. After moving all my stuff out and getting settled in my new room, I found out that my suitemate and I could hear each other through our walls. This was entirely unacceptable for me, so I finally said “screw it” to university housing and set out to find a new apartment all my own. So from this, I learned a few things:

1: Privacy is of supreme importance to me, personally. I can’t stand even suite living. Now, other people might be different, but the general lesson is this: Know what *your* personal needs are, and make sure those are fulfilled above all else when looking for a place to stay.

2: Don’t be too attached to any one kind of housing. When I first came to grad school I was absolutely adamant on not living anywhere but a university-owned dorm, for reasons I don’t even quite recall–maybe paranoia about bad outside landlords and stuff. As it happened, however, I did find a new apartment in a dang good location close by that was really good, better than any place I had back in university housing. So ‘going outside my comfort zone,’ so to speak, ended up paying off quite a bit. Of course, I also did some research of my own, which leads me to my next point…

3: Never buy or rent a living area they don’t allow you to tour first. My university housing office doesn’t really allow tours of its spaces, only letting you see floor plans and a few photographs. That’s better than nothing, but IMO it’s not nearly sufficient to decide how much you’d like living in a place. You need to walk around the premises, see what kind of amenities they have (if I looked at the dorm basement before moving in, I might have just went and got a non-uni apartment to start with), and view the place with your own eyes to really get an idea of what it’s like. If I’d done that, I would have saved so much time, trouble, and money (in the form of moving fees, getting stuff and furniture to fit in different apartments, etc). As it happens, I was able to visit several apartments and see which ones I liked, which resulted in me getting a very good deal for one. Not a perfect deal, which I’ll get to next–

4: One thing to consider: Always make sure to ask if there’s lead in the walls before signing a lease! D: The room I’m in is pretty nice and I don’t have any problems, but I found out it has lead paint, which is undesirable–if I’d known it had this, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it! D: Still, it’s not like its flying around everywhere, so I should still be set. Even so, the small chance would have been enough for me to forego it. Still, I have no regrets :D

So that about does it for what I’ve learned about housing. Next week I’ll be back with things I’ve learned about grad school specifically in my three years here–hopefully it’ll be useful to someone! Oh, one last thing before I go–a couple of VERY quick steam game reviews! I got some games recently, though my Wishlist still has 15 games on it, since they were on sale. Here are my thoughts:

Interplanetary: It’s essentially a turn-based war simulation that revolves around building railguns, lasers, etc. to destroy another planet instead of creating spaceships, like most 4x games. Really interesting, I haven’t played that much of it, but from what I have played it feels like a lot of fun!

Valdis Story: This game is pretty much a Castlevania–or, more specifically, Metroidvania/Igavania clone. I got it cause I wanted to whet my appetite for Igavanias while waiting for Bloodstained (the new Igavania game which was just kickstarted, check it out) to come out in a couple of years. Again, not played much of it, but it’s fun so far.

Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries: I got this one solely because it was on sale and like 80% off. Good thing, as I’m pretty unimpressed. The premise of the game is that you’re an edgy version of Little Red Riding Hood living in steampunk, industrial revolution England, where the edgy version of the Big Bad Wolf is Mr. Woolfe, a ruthless steampunk industrialist whose steampunk robots have driven England into poverty and apparently murdered your father. You must, therefore, run, jump, and fight (with an axe and various other weapons) across several stages of side-scrolling platform action, avoiding traps, bottomless pits, and sneaking stealthily past enemies sort of like the old-school 2d sidescrollers of the olden days.

This game isn’t *that* bad, I guess. The graphics are pretty nice and it runs OK on my machine (it was janky before I fiddled with its settings a bit). Still, the setting kind of annoys me. Just how many Hardcore and Dark and Gritty reboots of fairy tales (usually with hamfisted social commentary) do we really need? Yes, Red Riding Hood, we know this isn’t a fairy tale, because as the tagline says, “nothing about it is fair.” We are all bowled over by your sterling wit, especially since your voice actress seems to be pretty much every other “rebellious young edgy heroine” we’ve see everywhere for the last decade (She honestly wasn’t bad at all, but her character just wasn’t distinctive in the least). But honestly, as far as I’m concerned, American McGee’s Alice was the best of the Badass Fairy Story retreads (and Jin-Roh, if that counts), and Woolfe just doesn’t add much. Well, maybe I’m being too hard on it…for those of you less burned out on edgy reboots or more enamored of steampunk settings than I am, you might find it to your liking. It’s certainly a serviceable platformer, though certainly not the best I’ve ever played.

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