Visa death, leaving the United States, PhD

Dear all. For some time this blog has focused on writing, literature, and ideas, leaving my personal life lurking somewhere in the shadows of those great halls. However, soon my personal (or at least my physical) life will overwhelm other thoughts: my student visa is running out, and I must leave the United States soon. This current college semester is the last I will be teaching for a little while, which is a shame, as I love teaching.

The facts: I am in the US on an F1 visa, which lasts as long one’s degree, plus a year afterwards of degree-related work (this is called OPT), plus, after that, a sixty day grace period before the cops come calling. I graduated in January and began my OPT immediately afterwards: this coming January, my OPT runs out, as does my ability to earn money in America. It’s been a great year, if very busy—I have taught the two most advanced undergraduate fiction writing classes at Rutgers, published several good essays, completed a decent draft of my novel, and seen my short story writing take a real leap forward.

I feel very comfortable in the US, and my writing life is here, as are all my contacts and the majority of my friends. While I miss my parents, my brother and his wife, as well as London itself, after eight years away, England seems almost foreign, and I have no idea, professionally, what I would do there. So the prospect of a move is somewhat scary.

There are two ways, other than a hasty marriage, for me to stay in the US. One is to get a job, and have my student visa converted to a work one. However, the trouble is that I am nowhere near published enough to apply for the kind of jobs I want. The other is to start a new degree, and, after much weighing, this is what I am going to do. I’m going to be applying to PhDs in Creative Writing this autumn and winter, and I’ve been working hard this last month on all the paperwork. I chose this route because my education does not feel complete. I would like to study with more writers, read more, think more. And, as a quick scan of this blog will reveal, while I delight in fiction writing, I also am very fond of writing critically, and it seems a good idea to give both sides of myself further training. When I started this writing thing, I set out to write great fiction—it remains my daily purpose—and I don’t want to pass up any chance that might help me achieve that impossible goal.

So. I will finish teaching this semester, hang out in Philadelphia during February, attend AWP at the end of that month, and then pack my things and go. I will find out sometime after that if I have been accepted to a PhD. If I have been, I will return to the US in August. If not, then I will make new plans. I can write anywhere, so anywhere, one way or another, will work out.

I hope you stick around for the ride.

Best wishes,


8 thoughts on “Visa death, leaving the United States, PhD

  1. Daniel: I assume that U are a Brit? My grandmother was born in London many years ago and I have visited England several times and loved it. I had hoped to see more of your evaluations of poetry, analysis, etc.


  2. Hi Peregrine,

    Yes, I am a Brit, born and raised in London. I’m sorry I haven’t analysed more poems, although I have a lot of my fiction analysis linked to on my “Lit Crit” page (tab at the top). What kind of poems do you like?


    • My favorite is “The River Merchant’s Wife,” by Ezra Pound. He says it all in that brief poem. The saddest is “Cynara” by Dowson. I would enjoy your analysis of “Shake Hands Forever” by Drayton. I llike poems by Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Hardy but find them incredibly sad. I studied them in English lit classes. Peregrine


  3. Daniel – Well darn it. Will be sad to see you leave our shores, but hopefully you’ll get to come back. It’s kind of funny – I’ve always wanted to live in England (I’ve visted twice, the most recent in October of ’08) and absolutely love your country, but now I realize I’m much happier right here in the good ol’ Midwestern U.S.

    Here’s hoping your stay in Ol’ Blighty (sorry, couldn’t resist!) is good and you’ll be back in August!


  4. Thank you, Melissa. Yes, England is pretty great, too, and I wonder if I won’t find being literary there suddenly more congenial than I expect. We will see 🙂


  5. The first time I went to England, I was an undergrad (a long, long time ago) and we went on a literary tour – we visited Rochester for Charles Dickens, the Moors for Emily Bronte, Jane Austen’s home (can’t remember the town!) Thomas Hardy country, and a few others. England is a terrific literary country! Of course, I’m sure you know that already. 😉


  6. I’ve really enjoyed your posts on writing. You’ve come a long ways since Taiwan and Syria. Best of luck with getting into a doctoral program & returning to the U.S. I’m looking forward to following your adventures wherever you end up next.


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