Oct 21 2012

For now in Cincinnati

by at 3:56 am

Well, hello from Cincinnati, where I am doing research at the remarkable American Jewish Archives¬†as a fellow. It is on the campus of the Hebrew Union College, and I am staying in the spartan dorms with a peculiar set up for cooking…

Seth and I will be in Switzerland in mid December on our way to Jerusalem, and I will return on the way back in late January, so expect to see some Swiss posts, maybe even one by Seth, then.

I am compelled to write, for two reasons:

  1. This month-long adventure in Cincinnati, remarkably, feels a little like our adventure in Switzerland. It’s all about work, in both cases, but on the side, exploring a completely new place. This city has much to recommend it…for one, it is gorgeous. Who knew? Including the University of Cincinnati campus, which is across the streets. It certainly helps that it is sunnier than Pittsburgh, the trees are tinged crimson and yellow, the food has been very vegetarian friendly and good so far, EVERYONE has been so nice, and it is an innovative center of Reform Judaism. I have never felt particularly curious or happy about Pittsburgh; I think it has to do with my utter lack of relationship to it, the cloudy skies, its lack of good connections to the closest major cities besides individual car travel, and the fact that I know I have to live there for a long time. This is unfortunate, because Pittsburgh does have plenty of things going for it overall and we are so fortunate with our housing, and there is even a good local bagel place, but I don’t know, I just can’t get into Pittsburgh, at least not yet.
  2. There is one other fellow here with me, Rachel. For this, I am fortunate. She and I are both history PhD students working on American Jewish work in European Jewish communities, so we have a lot to talk about. (Typically, I am surrounded by people who haven’t a clue what I do or how I do it). It is nice to finally be able to compare notes! She has been traveling to archives for over a year, non-stop, including in Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, London, New York, and now here. I have had a chance to both reflect on the fact that I am supposed to be defending a dissertation less than two years from now, and that it will be a degree coming from a school in Switzerland. So, I am starting to panic, and also, I remain completely at a loss for what comes after PhD. What does an American academy, or otherwise institution/organization/museum/whatever, do with an American who got a doctorate from Switzerland? I’ll let you know in a couple years…

P.S. I have continued to update our flickr account with photos of summer, Pittsburgh, nephews, Ruben, etc., even if I do not often post here.

P.P.S. I am wondering if any of you dear readers would be interested in reading a blog about what it is like to be a history PhD student. I read some good history student blogs lately and feel inspired. Like this one. Alternatively, you can just go read that and already know what it is like to be a history PhD student.

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