Saturday, October 20, 2007

more free time=more work that can get done?

I was astounded by the lack of class time i have here. it seems like the professors teach less but give you more things to learn.
I only have 4 classes, two on monday (neuro and stats) and two on wednesday (genetics and proseminar). they are supposed to be 3 hours long each, but usually only stats lasts the entire time.
I was also in shock over having 4 day weekends. I always had a packed schedule in undergrad.
At first, i thought, i would have so much time to do work. But. now that its around midterms, i've noticed that i just tend to sit around more.
not that i don't do my work. i manage to get it all done. most of the time, i do it way before its even due. but i do tend to sit around more. that might be expected, given that i do live alone.
I'm now deciding on classes for next semester. its a one year program, you see. i find myself drawn to classes that have nothing to do with neuro, even though i know thats what i want to focus on. But i think ill take the other classes just to see what they are like, i don't really want to rule out anything before i've taken it. If i decide on them, i will again have thurs. and fri. off.

I don't think the classes in grad school are much harder than undergrad. they seem like more work, maybe, but i'm understanding all the material.
proseminar is a one page critique of the articles for that week. we also have one big lit review paper and another small precis.
genetics is a 2 page paper on that week's readings. 3 times we present one of the articles to the rest of the class. we have a midterm and final exam.
neuro is a neuroanatomy quiz, a 5 minute presentation, a 20 page paper, and weekly reading evaluations.
stats is homework every week with a take home midterm and final.

all in all, it doesn't seem so bad to me.

managing time is a big issue. so far i havent fallen behind since i seem to have enormous amounts of time to get things done, and i dont have many friends here to slack off with.

Friday, October 19, 2007

please don't be scared (ha)

hola peeps. Or, well. probably no one. As i don't expect many people to be rushing to read this thing every day.
ANYWAY. i was bored, and decided to offer up my graduate school experiences to anyone interested. I will not detail the application process right now-I think i'll save that for when i'm applying to doctoral programs.

i'm getting my MA in psychology. why? well. i thought i knew why, but now i have no idea.

you see, all of my friends made big plans for after graduation. americorps, peace corps, teach for america, actual paying jobs (imagine that). The only thing i could think to do was continue on with my education, since my undergrad basically prepared me for nothing.

Let's briefly touch on that. I graduated in may with a double major, earning BAs in psychology and biology. Rather than seeing graduation as a huge milestone (again, i'll save that for the day they finally give me a phd) i felt more like i'd been shoved into the real world without any sort of guidance. Although, one of my profs did hug me, which i thought was kind of odd. Now i'm not saying that i wasted 4 years, because i learned a lot, and made friends, and had the best time of my life, etc. but did those 4 years really prepare me? i guess we'll see when this year is over.

I spent all summer moping that i was not goin back to college, as did all my friends. however, i was quite excited to move out and be on my own...with my parents paying for this apartment, since i obviously have no money.

So. i arrived. in a new city i had really not spent much time in, knowing no one.
Let me just say this: living by yourself in a new place is really boring.

But. here are some quick tips for surviving on your own:
1. buy bandaids. you WILL do something stupid while trying to cook, and it's not cool to have to run to the corner store with your hand wrapped in a bloody paper towel.
2. buy a guide to the area, if it's aimed at living in the area rather than just visiting, that's even better. I recommend the Not For Tourists books, but those are only available for a few major cities at the moment.
3. Learn how to get places. If you have a car, go you! if you don't, it is important to figure out public transportation, and more importantly, which stop is yours.
4. Don't move in to a new place if it's 95 degrees out and you don't have AC.
5. obtain takeout menus of all places that deliver (for free, preferably) to your place. in addition, go and look for other food places within walking distance and note how late they are open. Do i really need to explain this further?
6. locate a GROCERY STORE, cuz you probably can't afford to eat out all the time.
7. remember to stock up on essential things for if you get sick, mainly, tissues, chicken noodle soup (or some vegetarian version, such No Chicken Noodle), green tea, etc. because you won't be wanting to run out and buy those if you wake up feeling like you've been hit by a truck.
8. before school starts, if you don't know the campus, walk around it and find all important buildings, such as buildings where classes are, the library, your major's department/offices, financial aid, health services, the student union.

Now. before i peace out, i'll leave you all with the memory of my first day as a grad student.

Orientation: this is not summer camp.
remember undergrad orientation? where they put on skits, showed you where the dining hall was, and made you participate in ice breakers?
yeah...they don't do that here. well, maybe they do it some places, but they definitely don't do it here.
instead, i got this:
45 people nervously packed into a tiny room, gazing anxiously around at their new classmates, wondering what the hell they are doing here.

First, we were told that we are now, since we are grad students, going to be considered colleagues by the faculty. say what? that seems ridiculous to someone like me, who not too long ago drew stick figure cartoons illustrating neuropsych disorders.
next, we were told the basic structure of the program and what is required. We were told that we have mailboxes in the psych department like the faculty does, and to check them on a regular basis.
And...the worst part of any new class/program/whatever: we went around the room and introduced ourselves. i HATE this. HATE HATE HATE it. i find it stupid, since i will not remember anyone's name after i've heard 30 other people say theirs, and there is always that sense of what am i doing here? i don't belong here. which, yes, i did call my friend after orientation and ask how the hell i got into grad school in the first place.
we were then given a list of classes (not descriptions, mind you, just the name and number) and given TEN MINUTES to pick out which ones we'd like to take.
i blindly picked two electives and the two required courses and signed up for them.
lastly, we were told we needed to get our ID cards, as in "you need to get an ID card, go to the union for that" okay. wherever the union may be.
i embark on an adventure with a girl from taiwan who is very nice and seems to be extremely excited and not at all nervous. when we finally locate the union, we have no idea where to go, and there are, of course, no signs. (we did eventually find it, and then were mistaken for incoming freshmen. awesome)

I left for the day knowing only two things: my first class was on tuesday (who knows where that class is being held), and there was a reception tuesday night (also in a location i did not know)