Finding Family in an MFA

By Mina Buzzek

I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia alone. When I arrived, my roommates were sitting out on the porch, smoking cigarettes and planning their syllabi for the upcoming semester. I thought to myself: this feels like home. 

My roommate makes dinner for all of us most nights. They are kind about my diet, and make sure that no matter what they make I have something to eat. We sit in the living room and eat off small plates, trading stories about our days. My cohort and I celebrate most holidays together, sharing dishes and drinks and playing games we make up on the spot. There is a community here I have never known elsewhere. A home. We look out for each other. 

It is Halloween and we are having a party. I drive to three different stores for snacks and decorations. We spend the afternoon hanging up strings of skulls and bats and pumpkins, lining the floors with LED lights, and arranging snacks on our dining room table. I am excited for the evening. We will dance and laugh and talk about what we’re reading, which classes are stressing us out the most, and what we’re most looking forward to in the semesters to come. 

I came to the MFA to write, as many people do. I needed to carve out space to create, and when I got my acceptance I cried tears of joy. I’ve always felt out of step, like I’m just slightly out of the loop in every circle I belong in. I’d heard from my professors in undergrad how incredible it is to be in school with people who are passionate about the same thing as you.  I expected to like the people I had classes with, but I did not expect to love them. Often, I find myself mesmerized when we are all hanging out, unable to form words of my own because I am so entranced by how kind and creative and compassionate my classmates are. I think about how lucky I am to be a part of a community like this, how lucky I am to have people who are invested in my art and celebrate my successes with me, but also nurture me through the rejections, the tough projects, and the tough times. 

I grew up in a pretty volatile environment, and I am still adjusting to kindness in my everyday life. I am astounded by the patience and kindness that my peers exude, the kind of family that comes with being in an MFA. 

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