I didn't know what I was expecting from Pittsburgh. I was excited to travel to a new place, as usual, and I had looked up some neat things to visit while I was there (Italian espresso shop, anyone??), but I wasn't expecting to enjoy Pittsburgh as much as I did.
I think I fall a little bit in love with any new place. It's like the rush of a new relationship: the city is all sparkle and wit, exciting and invigorating, and it's hard to spot his flaws. I just stand dazzled and enchanted, happy to have the thrill of a fresh scene*.
I traveled to Pittsburgh to visit with the University of Pittsburgh engineering writing folks. They were fun to talk to, and they gave me lots of good ideas to play with. Their program has been developing for almost ten years, so they've had some time to make it really, really good.
Toward the end of the meeting, Beth (the writing center outreach coordinator and orchestrator of engineering writing instruction) planted a seed: Pittsburgh would be a good place for a PhD, and I might find myself an assistantship working with their program. This I was not expecting, but it made a certain amount of sense. I love innovative approaches to composition, and I could participate in a program that flips traditional composition on its head. Wow.
The thought of living and working in Pittsburgh is appealing, especially since I'm still starry-eyed from my first encounters with the city. I could bike all over the city, or I could ride the buses--who would need a car? We'd have decent Indian food within blocks of our apartment. I could experience living in an urban setting--but still be able to escape to the lovely Pennsylvanian countryside if I wanted to. And I could get my PhD funded and work with a fantastic and fun group of people.
A new door has opened, and I find that infinitely thrilling. I'm trying not to stress about all the options because it's really enjoyable to have so many future paths open before me. I could pick almost anything! We'll see if the enchantment of Pittsburgh is enough to pull me back.
*I did the same thing with Flagstaff, Arizona and St. Louis when I traveled there and explored the new places. I love figuring out a new environment and getting a feel for a novel location.