* Title is a tribute to Mindy Kaling, whom I aspire to be.
Fall always gets a little difficult when trying to plan your life. My friends will ask, “do you want to see Passion Pit in October?” to which the answer is a resounding YES, but I can’t buy tickets because I’ll likely be on the road. My mother will ask me if I’m going to be home for Yom Kipper (one of the most important Jewish holidays) and the answer is always a meek “maybe?” My dad’s birthday is mid-September, so there is always the chance that I will miss it. Last year, I spent my 27th birthday interviewing high school seniors in Houston. For three months of the year, your life kind of pauses because you’re either gone or between trips.
All of the planning from my previous post happens in about 2 weeks and then usually a week or so later you’re on the road. Planning to be absent from your day to day life is always a little odd, especially when it is so concentrated. Do you get paper or electronic bills so that you can pay from a hotel room? Who is going to get your mail? What temperature do you set your thermostat to? Can you leave your car where it is parked for 2 weeks (#LAProblems)?
My biggest challenge is finding someone to take care of my animals. I have 2 cats and recently acquired a dog, so asking someone to take on that responsibility is difficult. My first travel season a friend of mine just moved into my apartment to care for my cats. Last year, my dad moved into my hous–which decreased his work commute by an hour. This year, my mom will take my dog home and my dad will stay at my house with my cats. If my parents (who you can legally ask ridiculous favors from) weren’t local, I honestly don’t know what I would do.
What is also hard is leaving behind your social life. Things go on hold in my life as I power through visits, college fairs and dinners alone. But everyone else’s life continues. Funny/emotional/important things continue to happen that eventually might make their way to me via email, text, phone or perhaps a FaceTime conversation, but a lot is lost by being absent. Obviously I am not literally forgotten (right guys!?!?), but right about the time travel season is wrapping up and I am home, people have stopped inviting me places because they assume I am gone. People ask me what’s new after a recruitment trip and the answer is typically nothing…because I haven’t actually been living my normal life.
Some admission counselors leave behind roommates, significant others and graduate programs. I try to put effort into staying in touch with people at home, but it can be hard for people not in the same profession to understand what recruitment travel is like. Many of my friends envision travel being like a mini vacation and do not understand why I’m sitting in my hotel room watching SVU reruns on a Wednesday night when I could be out in a new city meeting people. I meet new people every day, they just happen to be 17.
On the road, I am “on” all the time. Once, the woman who took my order at a lunch spot was a parent at the high school I was heading to next. You are always representing your school, so when I take off my suit I don’t want to talk about myself or my work anymore–which is inevitably what comes up when you meet someone while traveling for work. It can be hard to convey this information to friends without seeming lazy or ungrateful for the neat opportunities that come with travel. As a result, I can end up in a little travel bubble of my colleagues who can relate as they are also spending hours in high school parking lots or passing time at dinner on their own.
Overall, it is always strange to visit another city but still feel like you are visiting your life while you are home. The balance of taking advantage of limited time home or in a new city and socializing versus using time to rest and rejuvenate is something every admission counselor determines on his or her own. I fall somewhere between hermit and social butterfly but, fortunately, Benson and Stabler do not judge me either way.
By Sam Schreiber
P.S. More photos of the animals I leave behind.