I've been home for two weeks now, and I said I would post some final thoughts on my time in Kenya. Claiming to have any grand thoughts on Africa, poverty, development, or the state of the world after spending a mere six months in East Africa and then summing it up in a paragraph or two would be stupid, so let me just say that 1) living and working in Kenya was soooooo much more fun than grad school, and 2) living and working in Kenya was soooooo much more fun than grad school.
I say that because usually it takes grad school a few week to make me hate the universe, but this time it only took a few days. I re-read the rules on the department website which state that students will be subject to dismissal if they do not pass both field exams by the summer after their third year. If the clock is ticking while you are not enrolled in school, then that would mean August 2007 for me, so I'd have to sit in on a class that's already started, spend the summer locked in a room without internet access reading journal articles, and take the exam this August. I resigned myself to this fate, despite hearing from hiking friends that someone by the trail-name Mr. Magoo is going to attempt to be the first to ever yo-yo the CDT (meaning he'd hike the 3100 miles north from Mexico to Canada, then turn around and walk back in the same year, the exact thing I'd attempt to do.) Then I talked to the department's grad chair and grad advisor, and they didn't really seem to think I was under any deadline, so I could go hiking if I want, but they all seem to think it's pretty stupid to take more time off. So I have no idea what to do.
They've added a new course on exactly the part of economics I don't like (structural models) to the labor exam, so I don't really want to retake that field exam and I've been looking into other possibilities. I talked to the guys that run the law and economics field, and that seems interesting, but it seems more reasonable to do a field the normal way, by taking a full year's worth of courses first. So in summary, I have no idea what to do. I should probably try and view this in a "half glass full" way, and focus on the fact that I am beholden to no one and can do absolutely whatever I want.