So I think it's finally starting to sink in.
I went to lunch at a bakery/sandwich shop across from the university (my university?) and I was working on my laptop when an obviously out-of-town family asked me if I knew where the student union was on campus. Of course I don't, since I've been here less than a week, but it definitely made me feel student-y that somebody thought I might know.
Then I ran an errand at Walgreens and the young woman who took my address recognized it as the graduate student apartments and she asked me what I was studying. As a graduate student.
I think it won't feel absolutely real until I meet other students and start classes and do homework again. But I'm definitely starting to identify myself as a student again. What's more, a graduate student.
And I don't think I'll know for sure until it's absolutely real but I think this is the right place and the right time; this is what I want.
Yes, it's the deep south. Yes, it's very different than my comfortable bay area bubble. And yes, it's oppressively hot right now (101 F right this minute).
But the more I poke around the university and its surroundings, the more I recognize it as a truly health care oriented institution. Across from my apartment is the American Cancer Association Hope Lodge and an autism center and up the road is the Georgia state public health lab and international health organization. Not far from my department is the school of public health, the school of medicine, and of course, the C.D.C.
Five or 6 years ago, I don't think I would ever have seen this as the place for me. I had a passing interest in disease and a morbid curiosity about the history of medicine. Other than that, I thought I was an ecologist through and through. If somebody told me I would give a shit about public health I wouldn't believe it.
Still, even though there are things I'd do differently if I could go back in time, I think that more or less I got it right. And hopefully in five or 6 more years I'll look back and think the same.