Moving to Indiana has been one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life. Like many of you, I am very close to my family. Growing up, I always made decisions based on what was best for all of us. So once I received my acceptance letter to IU, I didn’t really know what to do… Continue reading
With Winter in full swing, it’s just about time to start bemoaning the lack of having a significant other. Because I’m on that list, I’d rather curb this discussion to talk about relationships in a different light, particularly with one’s family, during the process of seeking a degree.
I am very close to my family. We have a strong bond centered around a love of
food each other, support, and trust. That being said, when it’s holiday time, or time to go visit home, it can get a bit tense, especially when trying to go home and instill upon your family all that enlightenment that has come from higher education.
My sister and I lovingly call out “Okay, Denise,” in reference to the lovable, yet severely out of tune Denise Huxtable from the Cosby Show,whenever we start going off on tangents about how society needs to change, and that our parents need to get with the program of all the new progressive things we have learned while away. It is difficult to remember sometimes that your family is not the same as your cohort, and they aren’t in your same social sphere. While it can feel like everyone around you is learning the same things you are, it is important to remember that graduate school exists in a bubble.
I had become…a Denise with a Master’s degree…
2013 was a banner year for challenges. There were losses: first, in February, the unexpected death of the husband of one of my best friends; and second, in July, the sudden and unexpected death of my own sister.
Of course, there were the additional challenges associated with these deaths – supporting my friend as she reeled from her loss and the stress resulting from my own family’s struggle with decisions regarding the withdrawal of life support measures after my sister’s catastrophic injury. Continue reading
As a disclaimer, this post has nothing to do with the book.
I am a Kansas City native (from the better, more functional Missouri side, not the dark, desolate Kansas side), and I used to be a fair weather fan; I didn’t want to be there when I was in high school, but when I went off to college and then graduate school, I missed it terribly. What can be said…often times, the adult longs for the crib as it were; recalling a place where life was all about coloring, watching Disney movies (without analyzing it down to the pixels), and eating cereal, laden with refined sugar.
I almost didn’t trust myself on this topic, due to the extreme bias it permits me to take, without really having to provide any empirical evidence, or legitimate scholarly insight. However, I will attempt to make this post somewhat informative, in that it will hopefully assist as a guide for how to get through the “This city is (insert colorful adjective, noun, or noun phrase here)” inner dialogue, that will without question, plague your mind at least twice a week.
One thing good about the internet is the ability to more easily interact with your family and friends. Now, when I mean interact, I don’t mean mindlessly scrolling through their Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr profiles. It really means having a 2-way interaction, whether it be as “slow” as sending them an email update or as audio/visual as a Skype conversation.
One of the best tips I have received about grad school is to remain connected to your loved ones. It is certainly very difficult when you are juggling your other responsibilities, but making time to talk, Skype or write an email to friends and family will help you improve your mental health.
I made a terrible mistake during my first year Continue reading
I hope everyone had a very happy holidays and a pleasant break between semesters. I traveled home to Montana and enjoyed some quiet time with my family.
We ate a lot of food, played a lot of games, stayed up late, slept in late, and pretty much let our cares rest for a while. Since the breaks between the semesters are often a time for students and professors to catch up on work, it felt a little indulgent to relax so much.
But actually, taking breaks can help your productivity in the long-run (as I’m sure most of us have heard.) Here’s some advice for graduate students from Rachel Manes and the American Psychological Association:
First off, consider how long the designated vacation period will last. While writing up results of a study might seem like a tempting way to spend this time during the extended break, planning non-academic related events is an equally productive way to spend time during the designated vacation period because they stand to improve productivity after the break is over. These off-line activities could range from travel and recreation to leisure time with friends and loved ones. (rest of the article here)
So you see, there’s no need to feel guilty about your vacation – and I hope you took one! Instead, you can focus on transitioning into the new semester and having a productive start. Happy spring semester everyone!
I’m sure most of us would agree that one of the more difficult parts of graduate school is being far from your family, especially at the holidays. I’m happy to be going home this Christmas (first time in two years!), but I’m also happy that the holidays I’ve spent in Bloomington when I can’t go home have also been quite nice. This Thanksgiving I stayed in Bloomington and enjoyed a delicious potluck dinner with good friends, and the next night we went out to see the annual ceremony where the courthouse square is lit up by a canopy of lights.
I can’t believe this is my fifth year in Bloomington and I never saw the lights celebration before! It was festive and fun, if a little chilly.
There’s plenty of fun to be had in Bloomington when you can’t go home – especially when other students in the same position get together. Our Thanksgiving party this year was made up of a wonderful conglomeration of people from around the U.S. and around the world. I think my friend said it best when he said he was thankful that such a diverse group of people could get together and enjoy each other’s company and excellent food and good spirits. It was a very special holiday.
Happy holidays everyone! Only two weeks til winter break!
I’ve already explained to you the academic portion of my summer. Even though it took up most of my time, I did manage to squeeze in two trips back east. The first was to go home for my sister’s birthday and for family BBQs. That was also the first time I brought my dog Dexter home. I am from NY and I didn’t want to pay for a plane ticket for my dog I decided to drive. The trip from Bloomington, IN to NY, NY is about 14 hours depending on traffic. I’ve driven it several times, with friends mostly and alone once. I mention this because when I decided to drive it was probably the week before it was time to leave. I hit up some friends to see if anyone needed to go to NY and within a day or two I had a full car, 3 people and two dogs in a 4 door. The drive was still long but it went much smoother because the dogs could entertain each other and we rotated driving so no one had to drive tired. It was a good reminder to me that no matter how focused you get into your research it is very important to keep your social life alive and healthy.
The second trip home was for my line brother’s wedding (I am in a fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi and a line brother is one of my fraternity brothers who joined at the same time as me). That was an amazing trip for two reasons. The first being that I he got married and it was a beautiful ceremony. It was in Philly and even though I had been to Philly before I had never been to that part and It was very beautiful. The second reason it was an amazing trip is because it was the first time in 4 years that all 8 guys from my line were together again since we joined. We love spending time together but two of us have moved out of state (one is in the marines and I am in grad school), two more have kids (one just got married and the other is engaged) and everyone works full time somewhere. That being said scheduling is a bit difficult. But the time spent with them was fantastic and even though I was still working through my exam my summer was still amazing simply for that one trip. Once again I want to stress that you must keep the balance between your 9-5 and your 5-9. You are in school to accomplish something that most don’t have the desire, determination or drive to complete. However your friends and family are the ones who will keep you grounded and help you bounce back when things get rough, and they will get rough. Grad school is an amazing experience that you wont want to do again. At the end of the day you can do it.
Once I was admitted to IU, there seemed to be an endless list of tasks that needed attending to before my family and I made the physical transition to Bloomington, such as arranging housing, setting up utilities, finding the grocery store and opening a bank account. For me, one of the foremost tasks on my list was arranging for childcare and school for my daughter and son, respectively.
When we moved here, my daughter was only 2 years old. As I quickly learned, finding childcare in Bloomington for an infant or toddler can be a challenge. This is not unlike many cities were infant care is in short supply, but if you have a young child, you should be warned that you will probably end up on several very long lists with other parents who are also looking for care for their young children. As a result, I ended up looking for alternative sources of care for my daughter. As a grad student I could not afford an in-home nanny, but I was able to find an in-home group care setting for her. To do this, I used the following website to help me with my initial search for reputable, licensed daycare providers: http://childcareindiana.org/childcareindiana/ptq.cfm. This website allows you to search by zip code and also find out what violations of state regulations, if any, a licensed provider has had in the recent past.
When my daughter turned 3 (and was potty trained), we enrolled her in the local school district’s preschool program called Ready, Set, Grow. She really thrived there. The teachers were terrific, many of which were certified in early childhood education. The program has a curricula that includes academic and social skills development. My daughter not only learned the alphabet, but also built relationships with other children with whom she attends school today.
When we moved here, I also had to enroll my son in elementary school. The local school district, Monroe County Community School Corporation (or MCCSC for short), provides lots of information on their website, including how to register your child in a school: http://www.mccsc.net/subsite/dist/page/title-raw-nid-3. You will need to determine which school covers the neighborhood in which you live using the District Boundary Map and then go to that particular school to enroll your child. Although it depends on who you ask, the public schools in the area are good quality, and I have found the teachers and administrators to be very caring and interested in the welfare of students.
In sum, if you have children, get started early arranging for their day care. Although Bloomington has many wonderful options, it takes a while to find the right place for them.