So I made way too big a deal for too long about applying to and attending a graduate program. I finished my bachelor's degree in 2003. I knew I was gonna go back for a master's, but couldn't decide on a subject. Communications, Social Psychology, Education? At this point i could have gotten all three master's degrees in the same amount of time it took me to decide to on one. And then how smart would I have been by now?! So smart I could open a can of tuna fish using only my brain power... or at least smart enough to NOT keep sitting on my cell phone in the car and then knocking it on the ground very time I get out. (This is why I can't have nice things! Like an iphone... I haven't proven I'm even close to responsible enough.)
Anyways... (not a real word) my point is that it wasn't that big a deal to apply and get in and i should have done it ages ago (hyperbole). To all you aspiring grad students out there! (Imagine my voice through a megaphone) Stop being a baby, or babies rather, and JUST DO IT ALREADY!!!... GEEZ! So having said all that, here are my reflections on day1, week1: Orientation.
I showed up to our department building at 9AM... ok 9:15 cause i'm still always late. I walked in behind Sasha the redheaded girl with a grown out mohawk, pushing a ten speed. I walked into the room and enjoyed bagels and orange juice courtesy of the Comms department. Tasty, tasty. I looked around the room and saw that easily 90% of its occupants were female. (This is a common observation for me. Most of my classes, workplaces and so forth have been predominantly female... are my choices in life telling me something? That I'm a big sissy?) We went through some icebreakers (not that terrible gum or a crash course in igloo demolition, but the social kind) and beside getting to know my new classmates, I became acquainted with the comforting idea that these people didn't have it all figured out either. they just made a decision and went with it. Nobody had a narrowly defined idea of what they wanted to research or write their thesis on. They were all in need of guidance and help... like me. I was more social and affable than usual. I think this is the first time in my life (besides an occasional job interview and the first 2 weeks of work) that I actually want to make a good impression on a group of people. For the first time ever I feel like I'm were i belong, that I'm on the right track. I want to excel, I want to stand out, I want to network. These people can help make or break my future.
After a chatty 1 hr session with me cupping my ears to hear the person across the table from me, we walked like a pack of freshmen (name tags and all) over to the library for a tour. The PhD student that took us around urged us to not feel intimidated. "Don't be embarrassed if you don't know what something is, thinking it's something you should have remembered from your undergrad!," she seemed to say... or maybe said word for word. Either way it reinforced the theme for the day for me: "You don't have to have it all figured out right now," or "YDHTHIAFORN" for short, which helps me remember and is totally less confusing!
Then we rode TRAX down to Stoneground (a really great restaurant on 400 S. 250 E. in Salt Lake.) for lunch. I sat next to and talked a lot with Corinne, the department's graduate academic advisor. Astonishingly, she did just that, advised me academically! She encouraged me not to shy away from integrating my photography into my academic career, suggested a few professors I should check out for the Fall, and helped to further set my mind at ease about not having a clear vision of my areas of interest. What a lady!
All in all, my impression of day 1 was this: I'm so glad I did this. It's a big undertaking, but lots of normal people like you are doing it successfully. There are lots of resources and people to help. Yay.
Until next time...