Back in Action

Happy Monday Morning, lovelies!

I am now entering week 3 of the second year of the program. This year is different in a number of ways. The biggest change this year is that I am now teaching. I take that back. The biggest change is that I am no longer ‘new.’ In grad school, where you fight for cubical space, compete for research money, heck, you even run to be the first at the fotocopier, EVERYTHING is about seniority. Everything. Thus, the first year students are pretty much at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole. We get less respect, greeted initially with a sense of skepticism and a healthy amount of disdain. For example, last year’s first Happy Hour was filled with a lot of hellos and welcomes, but also a number of ‘you have to prove yourself’ looks.

Not this year, my friends. Even one year later, the difference is huge. Hi Ms. Musings! Awesome to see you! The third, fourth, and fifth years have even warmed up. It’s great to have a sense of community in the department, but has also got me wondering. Why do we have to treat the new kids like surfs? A friend of mine in another PhD program in the Midwest wrote on her Facebook page that her first year has been filled with loneliness and depression. While I was neither lonely nor depressed last year, I can related with the sense of isolation these type of intense programs can induce. At any rate, I’m trying my best to reach out a hand to the new guys. Yes, you are worth something, guys. They are also pretty adorable.

Another area where year 2+ people get respect is in their heavy schedules. See, you don’t just take 3 grad level class, you also teach two sections of undergraduate language courses. I’m teaching a particularly ambitious group this year, all of whom are preparing for an oral exam. Whilst my students are very well prepared and most of the materials (syllabus, main reading materials, etc.) are provided department-wide,  I can’t say that the balancing act is easy. Teaching is EXHAUSTING. Taking classes seems to have taken the back seat this year, funnily enough. Maybe that’s the natural transition from student to professor? It certainly feels like an organic change.

At the same time, this being the LAST year of classes (when it’s all said and done I’ll have taken 30 grad classes in total), I do want to wrap things up in a strong fashion. Thus, I’m trying to become more organized this year than I ever was. I’ve created a filing system which would have made my undergraduate self shudder. My schedule is also pretty well orchestrated, allowing for a delicate balance of preparing for the classes I teach, and those I take. I know there will be kinks in the system and come December, I’ll be once again pulling my hair out and drinking 4 cups of coffee a day.

Until that point, dear friends, I’m a graceful and organized Ms. M. In her final year of doctoral classes. Gosh, it feels good to type those words.

With love,

MM

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