Grad School!

Miriam, Archer, and I started school the same year. I’m super proud of them and can’t wait to hear how they do in school. On my end, I’ve made it through three weeks of grad school. It has been an adjustment, for sure. Going from working full time to full time studies, from getting a paycheck to accruing debt, from driving at least 30 miles a day to living and studying all within a mile and a half, from being the daughter of college professionals to being a student on the campus we grew up running around on. Here, in no particular order, is a list of things that have taken up brain space as I’ve been adjusting to school.

1) I love my backpack. I LURV it.

The first day of classes I just used my super old green Jansport–it wasn’t big enough and I could feel the pull on my shoulders. So I pulled out the daypack I bought at REI a few years ago (by which I mean over 4. Geez) when I was visiting Pat and Christina. It is probably pretty heavy duty for a student backpack, but the hip and chest straps keep the majority of the weight on my hips and chest and off my problematic arms and shoulders. I feel idiotically strong and capable walking across campus with its weight settled close in on the parts of my body that are strong enough to carry it. All the pockets help keep me organized, my laptop fits in it, it has been big enough so far. It makes me ridiculously happy. Never thought I’d feel this way about a backpack, but life is full of surprises.

2) So. Much. Reading.

You know how much we read and how fast we can do it. I still catch myself thinking, “oh, I just have to read for tomorrow–that shouldn’t take too long.” Not in grad school, baby. Most of the reading is so good, the type of good that has me taking copious notes and saying, “yes” and “oh man, so good” to myself while reading. And it takes so much time and focus–no skimming this material, or even reading slow and steady. I have to reread and take notes, especially after a couple hours of doing it.

I sent Beth this text Wednesday night. She teaches social psychology.

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I usually do Pomodoro-style breaks, but I needed something more than that in order to remember anything that I read. I ended up doing some mindless interneting for awhile until my head cleared enough so I could read for the next day.  Showing up for a three-hour class unprepared is scary. I, at least so far, am not one of those people who can sit in the back of class and not talk. It would be such a long class.

3) What do I call the professors?

I met one of them at a party last summer, before I was a student. One of them has told us to call her by her first name, so that one is easy. Another one, while saying he has been told that he is supposed to go by his professional title, always signs his emails by his first name. One I have known for forever (N..Ehem. Dr. Furlong?). Having grown up around campus makes being a student on it great and weird.  Should I call people by their professional titles now that I am a student? So many of my friends are academics, which also makes the student teacher relationship weird. Beth teaches on the same floor as the majority of my classes, so I often stop in to visit her before or after class, and I’ve have to remember to use her professional title when introducing her to any of my classmates. I saw a friend walking down the hall the other day–a friend who I got my cats from, have made flower crowns for her girls, gone to parties with–and sort of jokingly called her Professor, since she is also a doctor and professor of psychology. She said, “It is so weird to have you call me that.” It was equally weird to call her that.

4) (No more) working 9-5 (or 8-4, if Dolly Parton had worked with me).

I have five classes a week. Each class meets once per week and is 2 hours and 50 minutes long, and it is focused time. Like I said, I’m not one to just go and sit in class. Not yet, at least. My first class of the week starts Monday afternoon at 1:00 and I am done with classes by noon on Thursdays. Any time I’m not in class is mine to organize. I’m still figuring out how to do this balancing act for school work, preserving stuff that is ready from the garden, taking care of the house, preping for the upcoming show, sleeping. My grad assistantship hasn’t taken off yet, but that will soon, I hope, and will add one more thing to fit into the week. My student schedule is much different than my structured work day, when things had more of their own set times. So, for now, my life is back on paper again.  I need to see my assignments laid out a week and a month at a time and organize my days into hours in a way that I can’t do on my calendar phone app. My coworkers gave me a gift certificate to the college book store as a going away present and I used part of it to buy myself a day planner. Not sure how I feel about having to carry a day planner around again, but I like being organized in ways that are helpful and useful to me. If you have good scheduling apps, I’d be glad to hear about them.

I need to go do some…wait for it…reading for class tomorrow. I know, you’re shocked. Back to school work I go. An upside to all this reading is that I can do it from home, with a cat asleep on my lap, or on the porch. Not a bad view, huh?

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Ok, I’m working. See me working? This is me working. Now.

All my love,

Janna

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2 thoughts on “Grad School!

  1. Oh, I’m so happy to hear that you love the subject matter and the reading is interesting and the classes are good. You will do so well.
    I helped Miriam with her homework today–yes, homework in kindergarten! She had to practice writing her name 5 times with the first letter capitalized and the other letters lowercase. 🙂 She will be fine, she loves words and reading and books–she comes by that honestly from both parents. Good thing, because the kindergarten curriculum is getting more academic these days! Math–well, we haven’t done as good of a job teaching her that at home, but I think she’ll be fine there too.
    That is a lovely place to get your reading done. Hooray for you, for Alfred, for grad school, for using your brain in a new way! You are inspiring. 🙂

  2. Yay! It is so wonderful to read this. I wish that we were in Alfred and then you and I could meet for lunch 🙂 Grad school really is a great time, it can get stressful but the flexible schedule really is nice. I had a dream a few nights ago that I had to write a 35 page literature review, so the stress dreams don’t stop when you are finished with school!

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