The tumultuous journey that has been my grad school application

As most of you know by now, I’m applying to grad school. I’ll admit, I was a little lax with this process this semester, partially due to the fact that I am taking a couple graduate courses this semester. So it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that I’m not actually, officially, a grad student yet.

I started this application process back in November. Mostly because I needed to get the basic application to the graduate school in before I could enroll in those graduate courses. All I really had to do next was the departmental application and the GRE — and since they had rolling admission, it was no problem, right?

hermione_headshake

Well, apparently the department had been working on revamping their admissions policies. Sometime between when I first applied in November and when I finally got around to working on things here in April, they added a deadline. April 1. And it had already passed.

Now, when I found this out, the director of graduate admissions in our department offered an extension to me — April 18th, about 10 days from when I found out about said deadline. I would have to get my CV, Statement of Purpose, letters of recommendation, and GRE all in by the 18th. Cue freakout.

Ok. So looking at all those things: my CV was done, my statement just needed one last round of editing, I hadn’t officially asked my recommenders, and OMG in no way was I any way prepared for the GRE. Also, the only day they were offering it on campus was the day I needed to help my mom. My only option was going out of town, which was still questionable. Also, yeah. 8+ years since I’ve studied maths. At this point I was pretty much ready to give up, because I really didn’t see how I was going to get this application done, and I’d have to wait until Fall 2017 to enroll.

Hermione-cry

Just as I was settling into this idea of having to delay my dream by at least a year… I got an email from the admissions director stating that the faculty voted on it, and would allow me to have an additional extension on the GRE as long as I still got in all of my other application materials by the 18th. But rather than even considering taking the GRE with just a few days to prep for it, I have until May to complete it. Which means I can start studying now and then hardcore focus on it once finals are over. (Because, HI, we still have 2 weeks of classes left as of now.) So I did the completely unprofessional thing, and asked my professors and intern supervisor if they would write letters for me with less than 1 week to turn them in.

And as of yesterday, I had in every. single. part. of my requirements for the departmental application. (Though, when I turned them in, two of my professors still hadn’t turned in their letters, but they still have time.)

Hermione-clapping

However. The whole drama stuff isn’t done yet.

First off, my GPA from my first degree was not great. You need a 2.75, and I had a 2.55. There were a lot of reasons why my GPA is not what it really should have been: I chose social stuff (including a bad relationship) over studying, there were health issues (including my when my endo symptoms started to foreshadow future pain), and also the death of my stepmom to a year long battle to cancer. I am a very different student now than I was in my early 20s. Frankly, my institutional GPA here at BSU reflects that (3.5 — which includes a 2.0 from a bio class I took 12 years ago). Also, I’m in the national honors society for my field (Lambda Alpha).

However, because I am not completing the post-bacc degree — largely because there are a lot of gen ed requirements that didn’t transfer from my first degree that I don’t want to waste my time on (Gym again? no thank you. Also, practically none of my English or writing courses transferred, despite that those areas were 2/3rds of my undergrad major) — but because I am not finishing this degree, none of the GPA I’ve earned in the last year and half count towards my admissions. I’m pretty frustrated about that because it seems to me, if your GPA is low, a lot of universities tell you to take some undergrad courses to make sure you can handle it or that this department is a good fit, etc. Apparently that doesn’t apply here.

Also frustrating, apparently the GPA decision was just up to one person. I found this in the email trail regarding my application from the graduate school (not my department): “I will let you decide this.  I updated her pending GPA from BSU and now overall it is a 2.782.  It is up to you if you want to clear her.” So had they decided to use my current GPA (3.5) and add it to my bachelor’s GPA (2.55), I would have a 2.782 — clearly meeting the 2.75 requirements. However, they will only consider these last 4 semesters “after hours” and so I’m back to the 2.55. Like, this was all up to ONE person to clear me. And they chose not to. “As it stands right now, you would be denied but would be eligible for probation.”

Hermione_OMGseriously

So I’ve turned in the petition for probationary admissions and am waiting to hear back from my department on all of this. Basically we have to create a 9-hour plan and those are the only classes I can take in the Fall, and if I pass those with a 3.0 and also earn a “satisfactory” GRE score (according to my department), then I can be fully admitted (once the department writes the graduate school and explains that they want me in). Now, after I finish this semester, I’ll have 6 graduate credits complete. So I thought maybe if I took another course in the summer that might work for me 9-hour plan… but nope. Same person was all just like “nope, those are undergraduate hours.” (Not verbatim this time, but essentially what they said. And I’m just like, but these are transferring over to my degree, and I just.. UGH.)

The faculty in my department are going to meet yet again to discuss this. I would love for this probationary stuff to just disappear. I mean, if I have to do it this way, then so be it. But it’s just been hurdle after hurdle, it feels. Some of my own making, but these ones are a bit out of my control. If my department didn’t accept probationary admittance, then I would just be stuck. I’d either have to finish this post-bacc degree or just give up. I know finishing the degree really doesn’t seem like that big of a thing, but it’s added semesters, a lot of petitioning to get transfer credits to actually count, and added costs. It’s just kind of frustrating because it feels like the department really wants me in this program, I really want to be in this program… it’s just the graduate school I have to convince.

Hermione_stutter

Lastly… Ok. So, even though I have all of May to finish my GRE…. um, did you know the GRE costs $205? I did not. Like, I was thinking it was $50. No clue where I got that number because it’s no where close to that. I don’t have $200 to spend on the GRE right now. I’ve been racking my brain this past week on how I can get that money… Not sure if my mom can loan it to me since she’s got a lot of medical stuff going on, there’s some big changes in my dad’s life that I don’t know if I can even ask him… I thought maybe I could sell some artwork, but I question my skill and its ability to bring in what I need. I thought about doing a fundraising cooking/gaming live stream, and ask for donations through my twitch channel‘s donation feature. But again, I don’t know. Some of you may remember that I crowdsourced my tuition for the portfolio school back in 2011. My dad shamed me when I did that. And I’ve had a hard time asking people other than my mom for help financially since then. It’s like I’d rather pay fines for being late or hold off on getting things like groceries than get help.

So while I am super, SUPER excited about things looking like I’ll start my Master’s in the fall… there’s just those last hurdles to get through. It just all feels so precarious because just one of those things, not being able to afford the GRE or issues with the graduate school, could take all of this away from me.

hermione-peek

I’m so close guys. Like, this could actually all be happening. I feel like everything has really led me here. I just haven’t felt that pure joy in so long that I feel in studying anthropology. This is my place, guys. I want this so bad.

Fingers crossed I update you with good news in the following months.

On containing those ALL THE THINGS feelings. (or: my field of study is too damn interesting)

I’m not one of those find-a-word-of-inspiration types of person. It’s not part of my new year stuff. However, I do have to say that this semester one central theme has been bashing me over the head repeatedly: focus.

I love my department, and I love my field. There are just so many fascinating things within anthropology — new and old. It’s like being in a nerdy theory candy shop and getting free reign. Everything seems fascinating to me. I just want to learn everything. Like, for real, I want to learn it all.

Hyperbole & Half Meme: Research All The Things

I mean, I have no interest in going into biological anthropology, yet I had so much fun researching cranio-facial adaptations of early hominins. Like, so much fun. I would actually enjoy furthering that research and going deeper into it. But that’s not my thesis area. I’m currently working on a research proposal (it’s in the “get formal permission” phase*), and of course I started out with the whole ALL THE THINGS mentality… so much so that the first response from one of the institution’s director was like: FOCUS PLEASE. (Ok, he was totally way more professional, but that was the gist of his intention.) And so I met with my advisor and he was all like: FOCUS PLEASE. (Pretty much like that because that’s who he is.) He’s all “pick one” and I’m just “can I do two?” Which we finally settle on.

Pretty much every day, I learn something that excites me (though, not as much kind of now that we’re sort of talking about statistics). It’s like each class, each case study, each potential research project, they’re all fighting for my attention. And somehow, in the next year or less I have to weed through them all and not get distracted.

UP movie: Dug distracted by squirrel

Just trying to narrow things down to get to a workable thesis? That’s been tricky too. I know my overall area of interest is how we present and teach cultures in meaningful and engaging ways. My ideal setting is within museums. But well, that’s all big and rather abstract. So in looking at that area of interest, I’m curious about how we take material culture (artifacts) and the ethnographic research from field studies, etc, and interpret and present these things. Still sort of a big thing. Zooming in a bit on the material culture side, though… I’ve recently become interested in the commodification of cultural artifacts, especially in regards to cultural tourism. That? That right there — that’s what we call focus. That’s what I’ve been needing and searching for and attempting to become better at. And it’s taken months and months of talking this out. Often out loud. And often with my advisor (or anyone who will listen) over and over again. (So grateful for his patience with me.)

And honestly, when I look at the bigger picture: all the other events in my life have really been building up to this. All the smaller (and sometime big) events that have shaped my interests, all the life experience and knowledge gained… but frankly, that’s how life works, right?

So hopefully I can finally become better focused, and maybe also better at focusing. (Something I think my mom has wished since I was a small child — overactive imagination and big curiosity, it’s a recipe for others thinking you’re indecisive when really you’re just overly excited about everything all at once.)

*Of course, I might not get formal permission to do my research at this institution, so I’ve got to come up with a back up plan as well.

24 hours in, I’m bored with Winter Break.

As of writing this, I’ve only really been done with the semester for 24 hours. For most students, this would be a time of relief and relaxations. All exams and papers and presentations are finished. What could be better, right?

This semester has felt so long, and not in a bad way either, that I just feel odd not having something due. It’s like, I have no idea at all what to do with myself. My house feels strange without my large stacks of textbooks, and notebooks, and printed out articles… I actually had a hard time letting go of some of my textbooks. Mainly the theory ones. It’s like, this is the foundation of everything I’ll need to know… and I had some really good margin notes. (I’m actually sort of kicking myself for not erasing them as I don’t want someone else to have them.)

This downtime, not just a weekend or sick days… because even with those, there were still deadlines. And I actually had a fair number of Sunday deadlines… I think it’s mostly hard because I’m finally getting over this cold, so I’m not as sick as normal (just dealing with endo stuff, which is basically normal), so now I have all this energy and feel good.. And I just wonder why I don’t have something else to do.

So far, in this one day of freedom, I’ve cleaned and organized my entire living room, and put away all my remaining school stuff. (Because maybe if it’s out of sight, this break will feel real.) I have I feeling I’m going to put all this energy that I’d put into my studies into housework. Academic to domestic… anything to have something to do.

Anyway. I’m probably the only student feeling like this. Well, outside of one of the new Mucca’s kids. They had a great post online, “I’m bored with winter break. I think I’ll go outside and do science.” I feel the same way, kid. Exactly the same.

Three more weeks until classes start back up.

Semester Home Stretch! (The one with skulls and prehistoric artifacts!)

We’re down to the final weeks of the semester. And really the final weeks of the year too. Why are we always surprised that time moves pretty quickly? It feels cliche to say that this semester was a whirlwind. But I do feel as though I did have a lot going on this semester.

This past spring I was just getting back in the swing of being in school again. Not to mention dealing with moving back to Indiana and everything that came with it. This semester, my academic confidence was up and I could just focus on getting my work done and really start thinking about moving forward. Which I tackled at in a big way. If you’re friends with me on facebook, you may have seen that announcement already. If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen the hints at it. Otherwise, I’ll catch the rest of you up soon.

This semester has also brought some new activities and things and such… Wow. That was a bad segue. Anyway. Here’s some things I’ve been up to…

AAL Labeling Materials

I started my volunteer hours in the Applied Anthropology Lab on campus. I’m pretty sure that taking pictures of the artifacts isn’t ok — or at least I’d rather not risk it. But, I figure a picture of my supplies is ok. Maybe. Probably. Anyway. I’m basically just labeling prehistoric rocks. Ok it’s a little more than that, but yes, that basically is it. They’re mostly lithic flakes and cores — evidence of tool making. It also involves writing very, very tinily on these said artifacts. Which means it also means erasing (with acetone) and rewriting a lot. Or at least my first day did. It also involved me accidentally adhering a number of artifacts to my fingers. That B-72 you see in the picture, that stuff is very sticky. Very sticky. Anyway, after I complete 20 hours in the lab, I’ll be able to start working there for real — as in, getting paid.

Next semester I should likely have an internship with the lab. This time not involving adhesives. Maybe. I applied for the Collections Management and Public Archaeology internships, and in talking with my soon-to-be boss we might do a mix of the two programs. It’s unpaid, but will be great experience. (This is one of those areas where it’s ok to be paid with experience. Or at least mostly ok, because I am getting credit for it.)

I’ve also just got access to work in another lab in the department (though this one is a lab in the “we only study” sense, not in the “we get uber amounts of grants to study stuff” sense like the AAL). It’s our biological anthropology lab. Aka where all the bones are! For my Human Variation class, we were given pretty big leeway for our term project. I’m looking at the craniofacial adaptations in regards to environment and culture. I want to tract these changes as human ancestors moved out of Africa and began populating the rest of the world — aka, why do we look the way we do. It’s got nothing to do with race. I could care less about that cultural construct in this study. I want to know what in our environment cause our noses to look certain ways or our jaws… and why we retained certain traits but lost others. This means I get to look at a lot skull samples.  They’re not actual bones, but models. I’m looking at individuals from 1.9 million years ago. It’s honestly one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do on campus.

Early Hominin Samples

Meet Homo halibis and H. rudolfensis (and another H. habilis in the back left, same individual). I’m taking a few cranial measurements myself. Which was very intimidating since I have no training whatsoever in craniometrics. But ultimately it’s been a lot of fun. And I’m looking forward to continuing my work.

Lastly, I’ve felt more confident socially this semester. I’m starting to get to know my peers in my department, making friends. Not like, BFFs or anything, but people I feel ok walking up to and starting conversations and hanging out with at events within the department. That has been really great. It’s nice to have other people not just to talk about all this anthropological stuff, but just small talk about lives too. I’ve felt really at home in this department. BSU wasn’t my first choice, but it seems like it was the right choice for me.

And while I am gushing to tell you everything about this other big thing I’ve been working on. I just want to wait until a few more pieces are in order.

Anyway. Before I close out on this post, I just also want to remind you that I’ve been live streaming some of my gaming experience. You can catch me at 2pm EST on Thursdays, and then late morning/early afternoons on Sundays. Currently, I’m playing Don’t Starve. And it’s awesome and I’m addicted. I might also be streaming some of my skull studies (as like a hangout thing) and hopefully once a month on Sunday evenings some cooking! More details coming on that. Anyway: twitch.tv/adorkableme

Also, my host automatically upgraded everyone’s php, even if they didn’t want it. And I’m having some issues with my theme. Please let me know if my site ever loads weird for you.

Prepping for next semester

It’s weird thinking about next semester when we’ve only really just passed midterms. But that’s academia for you. And honestly, I love going through course catalogues and planning out my schedules. This upcoming term was no different in that aspect… however, I just wasn’t really sure I’d find enough to fill my credit requirements — or that I’d have a semester of just filler classes.

Thankfully, my department added a few classes to their offerings and well, ok, I still struggled a bit coming up with my spring schedule… But I think I’m finally ok with it. (Which is good because I’m writing this just over an hour before my registration opens.)

What I’m taking:
» Anthropology & Architecture – this is a special topics course, so I don’t know when they’ll offer this again. It’s one of two classes I’m most excited about (both are actually taught by the same professor). This one is exploring the structure and function of spaces. It’ll be more than just homes and houses, but also spaces where communities come together and ritual spaces. We’ll even be discussing museum spaces and how they’re used for education and sharing culture/history. There might also be some room for field trips — which I am definitely hoping happens.

» Ethnographic Methods – this was a late add for the department. It’s apparently a requirement for graduation and typically only offered in the fall. Thankfully (for me) a handful of seniors still needed it before they finished next April, and so, now it’s offered again and open to anyone. It’s the same professor as the Architecture course, so yes it’s one of the ones I’m excited about. Ethnography is a subset of anthropology, and focuses on the study of customs and cultures. Gaining a strong ethnographic background will help me be able to interpret cultures into museum exhibits. This will apparently be a project heavy course, but I’m up for the challenge.

» Introduction to Art – yep, this is a 100-level course. As someone who wants to work in a museum, it’s a good idea to have a basic knowledge of the artifacts I’ll be working with. This course will do just that. I’m mostly interested in the non-painting art, but knowing general styles of various periods will be useful. I opted for the two-day a week evening class. The professor has good ratings, and he also has been working with a few key folklore societies/organizations and is the head of the digitalization of collections for our libraries. In other words, could be a good resource for museum-y stuff.

» Introduction to Native American Studies – I debated this course a couple of times. It seems right up my alley and very interesting, and the professor is good. However, it’s online. The professor is working in another state right now. And I’m not fond of online classes. So I may drop this one for that reason. But, I want to make sure I keep my minimum credits. And I really should take this course at some point. I don’t want it to sound like I’m not excited about this course… I just really don’t like online courses.

» Internship – I don’t have this locked down yet, but I’m hoping I can land an internship in collections management. There’s a local cultural center/museum not far from campus and where I live, and there’s also a collections internship within the applied anthropology lab on campus. I’d also like to do one with the Indiana State Museum, but driving back to forth from here to Indy while also in on-campus classes… not really ideal. (Though we’ll assume I’ll have a car by then.) My the end of the week, I should hopefully have my applications in. Oh, and the professor who’s the internship advisor? Same one teaching my architecture and ethnography courses. Good thing I really value him as a mentor and educator.

The way this schedule works out is I’ll have my two on-campus anthropology courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays — one in the morning and another late afternoon. And then Mondays and Wednesdays, I’ll have my art history class in the evenings. This leaves a lot of time during the week for my internship. And plenty of time between my classes on Tuesday/Thursdays to work on my online class. Who knows, might be able to keep Fridays free — three day weekends! Which of course will be filled with homework and projects. (Or I might be able to work if I don’t get the internship.)

So while I struggled a bit at the beginning trying to come up with a meaningful course schedule, I think I did ok. Of course, now I’m trying to figure out what requirements I still need to be able to finish everything by next fall. Just need to make sure I stay on track, because as much as I’m loving all of this, I’m getting further into debt every term.

Something had to give.

As you may recall, the beginning of this semester has been quite the busy one. Attempting to balance my four main classes, and then the one left over from this summer, as well as my health, and also trying to retain some hope of keeping my job.

Well, the good news is that my grades are pretty great right now — I’m loving the academic challenge. Also, my health feels more on tract than it has in about 8 months or so. (Or really since I last stopped my medicine.) Work, however? Like the title says, something had to give.

I was really nervous when my boss sent me a text telling me I needed to sign a paper and turn in my badge. I hadn’t been to work in about a month, so I knew this would happen at some point. Honestly, I still had hope that I could figure out a schedule that would work for all of us. But well, health and school always came first. (And it probably will always come first until I finish my degrees.) I like my boss and coworkers, though, even if we have different views/attitudes towards things. I didn’t like the idea that I had disappointed them. And yeah, I was sort of nervous that I was going to get reamed out for just disappearing on them.

When I got there though, there really wasn’t too much of hard feelings. The reason listed for my termination was “no longer needed.” (I was a temp, so, you know, this is the best reason to be let go.) They seemed to really understand that, you know, school comes first and me trying to work during the semester just wasn’t realistic. (At least with them.) I told them that I’d be interested in temping again in the summer, or maybe even see about coming in during some of the break between semesters. We’ll see.

Right now I’m just happy to be at the mid point of the semester. Mainly because these last two weeks were kind of intense. Two quizzes, two big papers, three exams, and a theory debate to co-lead. And now all of that is over. For now. More stuff will be coming soon. Like my take-home essay exam first draft. Yes, the exam in that class can be drafts, and he expects us to rewrite them unless we ace them. (So they’re sort of more like term papers than exams. I think they’re originally called writing assessments in our syllabus. We just recently decided together as a class with my professor that they should be take home. And that we should get a chance to rewrite them.)

Again, if you haven’t noticed, I am loving what I’m doing right now. I feel like anthropology is the right field for me, even if it took a while to get here. (But really, I think all my life experience enhances what I’m learning.) I still need to figure out another source of income (and, you know, managing that with school). But for now,  I can just focus on my studies. And of course breath a little easier for the time being.

I kind of forgot about step two… (also: my top places I’m considering after my degree)

So one of the problems with doing a post-bacc degree is that you just really don’t have the time to leisurely figure things out. I’ve got about two more semesters before I should finish up. If I’m interested in grad school — which I am — then I’ve got to start getting serious about working on some direction. Especially since a lot of programs have deadlines in the spring, aka a few months away. And there’s that whole little matter of the GRE.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to just launch into this new career straight from here, but well, I know that grad school is something that both I and my potential future employers would value. Plus, I love school.

I always knew I’d like to at least do an internship or some sort of study abroad. Then I found some information regarding doing the whole degree abroad. That was an interesting thought. The cultural experience alone would be worth it, and some of these places have either less expensive tuition, or it’s free. And that’s even for international students. So after class I asked one of my professors about it. He didn’t have much information for me, but did say that if I was interested in working abroad, studying abroad would be a very good step towards that.

I had one of those “oh” moments. Where do I want to work? Where do I want to live? Where do I see my future? Oh man. Wasn’t I supposed to have these things figured out beforehand? Ok. Well. No. I didn’t quite have these answers, which is why I am going back to school: I have a general hazy idea of what I’d like to do, but beyond that it’s all pretty murky.

So, as a refresher, the original nugget of an idea was museums, something that blended education and exhibits. I love the sense of wonder and curiosity that museums can breed and want to be a part of that. (And I wanted to be surrounded by it for the rest of my life.) That’s still the general idea. Now that I have a better familiarity with my new field, things such as cultural heritage and ethnohistory intrigue me. Those combined with museum studies and a strong background of material culture (via this archaeology post-bacc), I feel like I’d have a pretty solid skill set to move forward with.

But there’s still that question of where…

Here are my top places, with no consideration to order:

Chicago's Museum Campus

Chicago
I mean, where else were you expecting? I would love to return to my beloved city of Chicago. There are just a ton of museums there, and really quality ones. In particular, the Field Museum. It’s the institution that really inspired this journey. I can easily spend hours there, and would love to get paid to do so. Chicago is familiar, close enough to family, and the home to some people who are dear to me. The professor that I mentioned above has some sort of project he’s working on either through or in the Field Museum, so we’re going to discuss possible opportunities.

The_Childrens_Museum_of_Indianapolis_Welcome_Center

Indianapolis
Or more specifically, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. It’s one of two institutions that would keep me in the Hoosier Heartland. The other being the Eiteljorg. I haven’t been to the Children’s Museum since I was a wee kid. Any memory I have of it is irrelevant given just how much they’ve changed — and for so much the better. I mean, it’s seriously one of the best children’s museums in the nation. And Indy’s not terrible. There’s some really interesting neighborhoods, so I could probably find something for me. Plus, for now, my friend Leah’s there — and it’s even closer to family. While Indiana isn’t my first choice, it would be a big honor to work at either of these places.

Montana

Montana
Another in the “no surprises here” file… I have never been to Montana, but I am in love with Montana. Mountains. Nature. Vast beauty. If you’ll remember, I was originally planning on moving to Bozeman, but financially it wasn’t a viable option. It’s still on my bucket list. It is far away from my family, and well, I am not a fan of driving in the winter. But there’s just something about Montana that just calls to me.

Montreal_skyline

Montreal
I have very fond memories of my last visit to Montreal. (Ok, minus when I walked 3+ hours resulting in an endo flair up. Or when I had mussel broth accidentally poured into my lap.*) The Atwater Market. The food. The art. The views. I loved my time there. The only big negative is that I can’t speak French/Quebecois.
*I actually wasn’t sour about that one. Just… soupy.

Washington DC skyline panorama

Washington D.C.
I’ve been really fortunate that we’ve done a number of tours through DC. I’ve yet to really learn the neighborhoods, but we’ve stayed mostly within an easy walk to the National Mall, or once out by the zoo. It’s something interesting being in big city that isn’t tall. Everything in Chicago goes up. Not the case in DC. Also, there’s just a lot of trees. I loved my early morning walks in this city. Now, the reality of the costs and traffic and all that might change everything. But, yeah, I always enjoyed it there. Also, hello Smithsonian.

city_Glasgow_large

United Kingdom
Ok. So that’s a picture of Glasgow. It’s one of many UK cities on my list. But really, if I could find a school in the UK with manageable tuition, then, yes, I’d go almost anywhere. There’s so much historical charm spread out over these countries. Also, there’s the bonus of not having to learn an entire new language. I mean, this is putting a big damn ocean between me and my family… But, I kind of like this idea of raising my own family outside of the US. Plus, it’d make traveling through Europe a lot easier…

Outside of Chicago, and maybe Indy, all of these are just places I think I might like living — no real thoughts about career or school. Nothing solid. I’ve got a few months (or at least maybe until sometime next semester) to work something out, though, right? Whew boy.

One book to rule them all… (Or: How I’m managing school thus far)

Three weeks of classes done. Granted, this last week was very short. Labor day plus a sick day. But I’m definitely getting settled into a routine.

Right now, one of the hardest things have been adjusting to going back to work. I went from 40 hours a week to about 6-8 hours (plus 12-ish hours in the class and then all the hours for my readings and homework). Not having a car also makes it a little frustrating. I can get to work fine, there’s a bus that leaves from campus near the building I’m in all day… But when I want to go home? Rather than a 6 minute drive it’s now a 45-50 minute commute that includes a nice long transfer at the bus station. Now, I could take the bus back to campus and walk home, but my knee’s been hurting again, so I’m trying to be careful with it.

Classes are going well. At first I thought my history professor had a grudge against archaeologist (aka my major) — and well, she might… but it hasn’t really been an issue. The actual issue in that class has been that 1) we have assigned seats and 2) the seat arrangement in the room changes every day.

All my anth classes are going well. And because it’s the beginning of the term, all three classes are pretty much going over the same material. But at least that’s just reinforcing the information. It also helps that I just really enjoy these classes. All of my professors are great (that includes the history one) and I’m getting to know some of my classmates (yay friends). I’m planning on talking with my archaeology prof to see if he’ll become my advisor. And I’m planning on participating in our applied anthropology lab (mostly identifying and labeling and cleaning remains, it seems). Now that we’re getting actually into things, since we’re in the 4th week, we’re also getting into our first exams and big assignments. In fact, I’ve got 2 exams this week.

With so much going on, I’ve got to have a way of keeping this all organized. As previously mentioned, I got a new planner at the start of the school year. And let me tell you… I love it. I got the ban.do Florabunda classic planner.*

ban.do florabunda classic planner cover

She’s so pretty…

ban.do florabunda classic planner side

And has tabbed sections!

ban.do florabunda classic planner stickers

And stickers!

ban.do florabunda classic planner month view

A month view with some holidays already highlighted for you.

ban.do florabunda classic planner week view

And of course a weekly view.

I’ve been using Sharpie pens since they don’t bleed through the page. And washi tape for important things (or multi-day events) — and either regular ultra fine tip Sharpies or Bic mark-its. Nothing else writes on the tape without smudging (or just doesn’t write on the tape at all). And then I also use highlighters to color code everything. Green for readings. Yellow for important. Pink for assignments due (either that day or the next time) and also for exams. And that was all unintentionally similar to a traffic light. I also got some extra stickers, but haven’t really gotten in to using them.

Anyway. I love this book. And love even more that it’ll last until I finish this degree.

So yeah. Things are going well. I’m a little tired, but it’s manageable. We’ll see how I feel next month, though.

*Yes, that’s an affiliate link. 

the Student Life: Here we go again!

Didn’t someone say something about a summer break? Wasn’t I supposed to get a summer? Hard as it is to believe, in less than a week I’ll be back on campus and back in classes.

I had originally enrolled in 5 classes, but after what’s gone on this summer with my online classes and with work… I dropped one of my classes — the only online class I’d enrolled in for this term. So now I just have 3 anthropology courses and 1 history… AND I still need to finish my course from the summer.

Here’s what I’ve got:
» Archaeology & Culture
» History of Method & Theory in Anthropology
» Human Biological Variation
» American History, 1492-1876

I’m still a little nervous for how all of this is going to go. I still plan on keeping my job… however, with severely reduced hours. Now I’ve got the (still) full course load and work… And, you know, I want to be able to keep my sanity. So it’s all going to be about balance. Thankfully, my new planner will be here soon (possibly today!), so that will help a lot in keeping everything organized and help keep things from slipping by. And I’m going to try to get better at using it — maybe even taking some inspiration from Erin Wiggle and her planner

Also with school starting I’m going to get some health things taken care of. Thankfully the health center is “free” (aka written into our tuition payments), so I’m going to try to get some lab work done. They can help with “women’s health” but I’m not sure if that covers more than just basic things like paps etc. I’d be awesome if they could do/cover my lap, but yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Anyway. For now it’s just waiting for my loan refund to come in, and then I can get my text books and then just counting down the days until class starts. At least ALL of my classes are in the same building. Now I just need to find some lounges or hiding places so I can get some much needed rest and quiet time (and lunch) between classes.

Knowing when to admit defeat

I really thought I can do it. I thought I could juggle two online classes. I started out strong. I had to figure out a schedule and a system, but you know, I was chugging along.

Then I got a job. It was just a part time job, and it allowed me to do a lot of studying at my desk. Heck, I could get through a whole chapter a day. Ok, depending on the class I could get through a whole chapter in a day.

Then that job ended and I started a monotonous job that absolutely did not allow studying. Not even during lunch — well, I could have left the building and hidden somewhere, but… free food. When I got home, I was so zombied out from removing staples and scanning records all day, I just wanted to crash on the couch and sleep.

I’m writing this at just after 9pm on Friday, July 17th. Aka the last day of my Physical Anthropology course. I still have 6.5 papers to write. (And technically 5 more articles to read.) I took 4 exams in one week. I got a C on one. My first C on an exam in this degree.

I put off all my exams and all my response papers, thinking I’d have time to do them. I wanted to get through my Cultural Anthropology class first, since it had hard deadlines. But as soon as I finished that class, well, time went by quicker than I thought it would. And so many things have happened since summer term started. My grandpa died. My mom was hospitalized. I had my sister’s graduation. GGB Indy planning. The job. The new job. And of course dealing with my ever present fun-time friend: endometriosis.

My ability to manage my time and prioritize went out the window.

I’ve asked for an incomplete — a chance to finish the course by a later date. Specifically before the start of the Fall term. I’d be giving myself 5 more weeks. I’d still be working this same job, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to work out a better schedule. Plus, it’s just the papers I have left, so I feel like that would be manageable. If the professor decides not to grant me this request — which given that I made it with only hours left before the class finishes — well, then I’ll have to take it again in the fall. On campus, this time. Which means I’ll need to drop my other (advanced) physical anthropology course, since I won’t meet the prerequisite. I’ll also probably be dropping one of my history courses — the online one. Because taking a full class load, plus working part time… I know for sure that I would not be able to give that class the amount of attention it would need.

I’m disappointed that it’s come to this. I expected better from myself. Especially given what failing this course will do to my GPA (still above a 3.0, but there goes my latin honors…) But, at the same time, I can cut myself some slack because holy wow this has been a hell of a summer. I could desperately use a vacation from it.

Anyway. Fingers crossed I can get the Incomplete to finish the course work… And that I can finally feel some rest.