Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One quarter down, eight to go


Finally, some breathing room. I finished the last final of my first quarter of grad school today, and it feels like it's on a very short list of the bigger accomplishments of my life. 

A few of us having drinks after the last final today. (Shamelessly stolen from Kyrsten's fb feed.)

This is my second time through graduate school, but it's vastly different now than it was the first time through in several ways. The first time, I was in a writing program that was much more practically oriented than academically rigorous, I was 22 and fresh out of college, and I was only responsible for myself. It felt much, much easier then than it did this time around.

To say this has felt like a huge transition is understating it a bit. Becoming a parent was a bigger transition, and so probably was entering the work world for the first time after my first set of degrees, but it took me more than ten weeks to become accommodated to either of those, and within ten weeks here I’ve gone from essentially having all my time to myself to taking on a huge amount of new role demands: juggling full time school, the bulk of parenting responsibilities, home, partial care of a parent, trying to maintain friendships, and all the other pieces of my life that have to be balanced. 

Here's a look at where I've gone this quarter:
  • In ten weeks I’ve attended almost 100 class sessions, taken seven exams, five finals, written three papers, and visited a room full of dead people approximately thirty times.
  • I’ve learned how to get over the smell and strangeness of working on dead bodies to the point where I now routinely go there alone to work. I only once got faint.
  • I’ve found a hundred different paths around what really has to be one of the biggest and most labyrinth academic buildings ever. (See map.) I still get lost in it (today, in fact), but way less than I used to.
See that big sprawling white box with the ten billion branches? That's my building.
  • I’ve figured out how to study again, how to mostly keep up, and how to survive anatomy. I'm figuring out (still) how to balance it all out so I don't get behind.
  • I’ve learned what is essentially a whole new way of thinking in the OT-specific classes. I can now usually define OT in a way that sounds pretty coherent when asked what on earth I’m doing. I can talk theories and models and frames of reference. It's sinking in.
  •  I’ve visited two clinical sites and read a bunch of placement folders for my six months of clinical work, and am hugely excited about a whole variety of different places I could possibly end up working.
  • I’ve put my daughter to bed almost every time I was supposed to, and I’ve only stuck her in extra daycare four times across the quarter. I never missed school pickup. I only begged my friends (who are saints! thank you Kate and Kate and Jennifer and Lara and Christina and Emilee and everyone else who helped) to babysit her once in a while. 
  • I fed my family almost all the time; although none of the food was fancy, we did not live on cheetos and breakfast cereal. My house did not completely fall into chaos. I did some but not all of the laundry. I kept the house sort of clean, but only if you didn’t look too closely.
  • I only missed one class, which feels miraculous. I only once shut my eyes in class because I was so tired and it was in the very last week. I did not actually fall asleep. I actually never wanted to sleep because it was all really interesting.
  • I met and started getting to know a bunch of really great people. One of our professors said that most people are drawn to this field because of altruism and a desire to do good, and I think that may be why all the students here seems to be so amazingly nice and funny and down-to-earth.
  • I’ve discovered I really love this subject area we’re studying and that this somewhat impulsive choice I made to turn my life completely around and head off in a new direction might actually have been the right choice after all.
 I would be remiss in not mentioning that my husband has been a rock through this. He reassured me when I thought I was never going to adjust to all these new demands in the first month, was endlessly accommodating about all the weekend time I suddenly needed to study, put up with me running off to the library at all hours of the day and night, and was really, really supportive. For something that we were both so unsure about going in, it's worked out better than I ever could have hoped. Thank you for being so awesome!

And now? I've got three weeks (almost) off before I go back and take an even more packed schedule than this quarter. We've got five classes and two labs in the winter. But between now and then, I'm going to nap, read magazines, wrap Christmas presents, and nap some more.

Oh, and nap.

Did I mention nap?

2 comments:

Mikoyan said...

Congratulations on that. I really need to get myself motivated to go to school to get my Masters Degree.

christina said...

you're a total rock star, dude. i don't know how you do it. i didn't even feed myself anything more than cheerios this quarter, let alone a whole family. and i was more than happy to help. and by help i mean, i catnapped on your couch while sofie watched that creepy canadian show. i'll do it anytime! xo

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