02 July 2011

To Spend and Travel, or to Save and be Prudent...?

A lot of things have been happening as of late that have affected my ability to think clearly and logically.  To sound less cryptic, what I'm looking at is a huge division between my head and my heart in terms of the wisest (read: smartest) course of action to take in the next 30 days.

Going back a few days...

In early May, I was accepted to graduate school at Columbia University, which is of course a very prestigious offer that I eagerly accepted.  However, as a low-income student, I am pretty much relying on a full scholarship in order to have the means to attend this university, or I will have spent $500 in application fees and enrollment confirmation fees (not to mention all the paperwork!!) for nothing.  If I do get this full scholarship, though... this will be a dream come true.  Travel-related consequences of this minor miracle include having no money - ergo, no means for traveling.  In fact, in all likelihood I will end up as a poster child for the "starving student" stereotype, as being an international student entitles me to no luxuries that U.S. citizens have up to and including social insurance, federal loans, nearly all scholarships, and employment opportunities.

Concurrently, I was also offered a place in graduate studies at the University of Victoria -- the uni that I just graduated from/currently work for.  If I attend this institution I am most likely going to receive funding for the year and into next year, provided that I keep my grades up (not a hard task).  Also, I will (hopefully/most likely) have job opportunities abound including research assistantship, teaching assistantship, sessional instruction in the summer, and research opportunities of my own.  I will be eligible for research grants and the like.

However, as I'm sure 99% of you realize, Columbia University is Ivy-league, and therefore way more prestigious by reputation.  Furthermore, it has more educational resources in my field than my current uni does in some ways.  That being said, though, staying local means saving more money, which means I still have a shot at traveling.


So what do I do?

I've been ready to book my month-long trip to Nicaragua for months, but I really can't until I know what is happening with Columbia regarding funding.  Until I know that, booking my flight is a big waste of money.  Though, on the flip side, it might be wiser to save my money until I'm done graduate school, and afterward proceed to take a very long trip rather than a couple of short ones.  After my Master's program is done I have a tentative plan to go to Thailand for a month.  

Should I follow my brain, simply save the money I do have until my program is done, use the money I have left for travel and backpack for a little while, and then return to whatever it is I have in mind to do?  

Or should I follow my heart, visit Nicaragua for the 36 days I'd originally planned, and use the time as an extended vacation before graduate school?

I honestly have no idea, but I have to figure it out soon.


Have you ever been in a situation where you had to decide between your head and your heart?  How did you come to a conclusion on your dilemma? 


  1. Wow, talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. The decision will come to you soon. Columbia is a hard opportunity to pass up. Congrats on even getting accepted, that's HUGE!

  2. Thank you so much! I wish I had seen this comment earlier; I would've gotten back to you right away!

    It's a total rock-and-hard-place situation. On top of that, my job just cut my hours (typical, eh?) so I've been having a hard time making rent and bills pan out. I'm trying to decide at the moment if I should pull out my in-case-of-emergency money and simply go to Nicaragua if Columbia doesn't pan out; on the other hand, the money is in the account for a reason, so I am extremely hesitant to withdraw it if I don't have to.

    There is an opportunity for me to go to Thailand at the end of my graduate program, whatever the case may be, so there's still a chance for me to travel, but that's another two years to wait. I'm just hoping Columbia gets back to me soon, because not knowing is making my travel decisions impossibly hard. :(