Have you ever looked around you and realized that you were in the perfect place for your interests, your ambitions, your comfort, your enjoyment, your everything?
Let me tell you, it’s pure bliss.
Week Three of graduate school and I feel like I spent two years in exile, working in a job I was not the least bit interested in (they were nice people but … ), and now … I’ve come home.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing about this that is easy. I have staggering amounts of reading to do from week to week. A hundred pages for this class, a hundred pages for that class, two hundred pages for this other class over here. Because of all the reading, it feels like I live, eat and dream about anthropology. This is not a bad thing.
The best part is when you get into class and start to discuss all that reading. My classes are all seminars and they are all conducted as extended conversations. Professors have a variety of techniques they use to get the conversational ball rolling. And we talk for about three hours. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned how much I absolutely love intelligent conversation. Everybody has interesting insights into the texts and everybody is older that the average college freshman, so most of us have personal life experience to augment those insights.
In addition to all the reading, there’s a certain amount of writing. Not massive amounts of it; just enough to make it interesting. That, my friend, is just gravy.
My cohort here in the Anthropology Department at UNC is all of eight students. A small group that will probably be a fairly tightly-knit group by the time we’re all third years. There will be a certain amount of socializing. We’re already making plans to meet and hang out once a month. That’ll probably be good for me; left to my own devices, I’d go to class and come home and do homework. I like the kids in my cohort (naturally, half of them are young enough to be my kids). I like the grown-ups, too. We seem to be meshing very nicely as a group, which will make our core sequence both informative and fun.
I have also dipped by toes into the icy water of teaching. I have discovered that classes held early in the morning need something more in the way of creativity, because the kids come into the class bleary eyed and half-asleep. I should ask around and see what people have to say on the subject of waking up a sleeping classroom full of undergrads at 8 or 9am. One of my recitations is midday on Wednesday, and that one was a dream. Alert students who were interested in the material or at least faking it well, and who were willing to participate in classroom discussion. That class gave me hope.
So did our Sociocultural Theory core course today. Our professor asked how our recitations were going and I got a chance to bring up my bleary-eyed freshmen. That was a good thing because I was reassured that it wasn’t me, and that all classes held at that hour (and on a Friday!) are a challenge for an instructor. So, at least I know it wasn't me.
The only thing left at this point is the Weiss Fellowship Urban Livability Seminars. There are about eight or nine of us who were selected as fellows. It's a non-service fellowship, which means we get money but we don't have to teach or be a research assistant or some other such thing. We do have to attend these seminars on urban livability. I gather that there's a way to get this fellowship again as a second year graduate student. That might be worth investigating.
My graduate school life takes shape. I spent two hears pining away for this kind of life, terrified that I wouldn't be given a chance to do this. But now, here I am, tasting a life that I knew I loved and finding out that this was a good call for me. A scholar, surrounded by academia.
I am so happy! I hope it'll not only stay this way but get better.
Really, it's important to do what makes you happy. Life is too short to do anything else. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I'd gotten here when I was a twenty-something, like a sizable chunk of my cohort. I can't be sorry my life has turned out the way it did because I wouldn't have my darling children if it hadn't. But sometimes, I do wonder …
Never mind. I'm on my way. The journey continues.