california dreaming, part 2: zen in the city

i had scheduled two infor-mational interviews with john f. kennedy university in pleasant hill and california institute of integral studies in san francisco as a part of my trip. i thought both interviews went very well, and i honestly would feel very privileged and would gain a great deal from attending either school. however, i definitely felt more of affinity with one as opposed to the other, and made the decision as to which one i will primarily pursue almost immediately after the second interview.

the first interview was with the head of the dream studies program at jfku, and it actually went wonderfully. i felt like she and i got along very well and that in some ways i would be a perfect fit in the program. my major here would be in consciousness and transformative studies with an emphasis in dream studies, and the classes look wonderful: e.g., paradigms of consciousness, shamanic traditions, archetypal mythology, etc. if i could manage to get a job at the university, most likely in the library, their tuition reimbursement program would pay for three hours every quarter, which could effectively cut my tuition bill in half, depending on my course load per quarter. it seems ideal, and yet, even before the interview, as i was on campus a great deal for the conference, i kept asking myself how i felt about the campus. and i wasn’t feeling it. it’s a beautiful campus, to be sure, but at the same time, it felt to me like a very bland sort of business park. other than a walking labyrinth on one side of the building and the stream of consciousness out back, it really felt rather generic to me. part of that has to be because they offer business and law degrees as well, plus my professor told me that one of their big foci is on clinical licensure within their various psychotherapy programs. in addition, i was told by a current student that jfku is about to merge with a nationwide university that focuses on programs for returning adults, and she and members of her cohort are a bit worried about it changing the nature of the holistic studies department. at any rate, i’m guessing that appearances aren’t all that important to them, and they aren’t to me either, at least i didn’t think they were. but there’s a vibe that was missing, at least from my point of view.

and i think i found that missing vibe at ciis. (the above picture is taken at the zen garden on the rooftop of the ciis building.) the interview with the admissions officer was actually more formal than the other interview, yet i felt more of affinity with the place, despite the fact that i like jfku’s emphasis on preparing the student for life after graduate school (i.e., ways to get paying work to pay off those enormous student loans). that just doesn’t seem important on the surface at ciis, and i did ask about that aspect during the interview, and was told that a lot of networking is done between alumni and current students, and there are ways to get that sort of training and/or help that don’t involve classroom time. still, i just liked the atmosphere better. it was decorated more ‘holistically’, if that makes any sense. plus it’s located in a very gritty, urban area of the city, which might scare some people off, but i liked the feel. and it’s close to the main branch of the san francisco public library, which i would try my damndest to get a job at. anyway, we talked about the degree in philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness, but after doing some further reading and research on the website, i think i may be better off majoring in east-west psychology. besides, some courses are cross-listed and i can take electives from the other department if i so choose.

so, does this mean i’m simply shallow or did i pick up on a distinct difference between the two (both of which regard each other as sister schools, which means i could pick up an occasional class at the other if i felt the need to)? it’s probably a bit of both, but it doesn’t matter at this point. ciis is currently my number one choice, and my current intention is to apply for january 2009 admission (which means i need to get my ass in gear), and deferring that to fall 2009, if need be. i spoke to my psychic about all this last night, and it’s not like i needed her to give me a green light; i just needed a somewhat neutral sounding board on all this. however, she gave me a green light. 🙂 (she told me than in a previous life i lived in the big sur area, working with women, and so this would be a return home for me.)

for the record, library school is on the back burner; it’s not a major focus at the moment, but it’s still on the stove. moving to cali will be a financially costly proposition, one that i feel is absolutely worth it to pursue, but if for some reason i can’t make it work right now, there’s always librarianship and taking this up again once i get that degree done. but that is plan b/c. plan a is relocating to san francisco, by early summer 2009 at the very latest.
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