“Toi Toi Toi”

 

Photo from www.indianapublicmedia.org

Photo from www.indianapublicmedia.org

 

 

 

I know lawyers and doctors (MD and PhDs) and public officials all from my time here at IU, but none are possibly as interesting as the vocalists I have met that are pursuing advanced degrees. Not only do you have the chance to attend Jacobs School of Music operas at The Musical Arts Center for discounted student pricing, but you get to see fellow graduate students showcase their hard work and talent on stage (as well as the musicians in the orchestra pit).

Operas are dynamic, fun, and exciting. It’s also a far more complex world than I originally thought. Imagine singing for 3+ hours! Imagine learning songs in French, German, or Italian! There are altos, tenors, baritones, counter tenors, sopranos and mezzo sopranos, contraltos, and bass baritones to name a few! I am no opera aficionado, but I absolutely love them and take advantage of every opportunity to attend a performance and learn more.

Just like attending your first IU basketball game, going to the Lil 500 race, playing cornhole (I never heard of this in Los Angeles), and experiencing the Taste of Bloomington– I think attending an opera (at least once) should be on everyone’s list. Who knows, you just might become a season ticket holder! After all, Jacobs School of Music is one of the most renowned in the nation.

 

Peer Pressure (the good kind)!

Photo from etsy.com

Challenge yourself to try something new. The pressures of graduate school and perhaps living in a new area will force you to try new activities, utilize different study techniques, and step outside your comfort zone. I picked the IU Mini, a half marathon, to challenge myself during the first year of my doctoral program.

I am thankful for graduate student groups like the Black Graduate Student Association, because that is exactly the medium I used to peer pressure contact and interest fellow graduate students to train and run the race with me. My listserv message was met with lots of interest from ladies in different programs and schools that were ready to tackle this challenge.

Some of these ladies are currently writing dissertations, while the others have graduated and moved away from Bloomington, but training through a snowy and icy winter for a spring half marathon has bonded us forever. Nothing like wearing ear warmers, running gloves, 2 pairs of warm tights, base layer shirts, fleece jacket, and warm socks to brave the 25°-30° weather for weekly long runs.

Here I am almost 3 years later and deep in the world of powerlifting and weighlifting, but something is telling me to try it again, perhaps train harder this time and improve my time. Truthfully speaking, I just want to run it so I can have a cuter better picture at the finish line, because I actually hate dislike running (still waiting for that “runner’s high”), but I love working out with friends. Obviously I have time to decide, but it’s always in the back of my mind. The race is right here in town with plenty of undergraduates, graduate students, alumni, and community members running right next to you. Perhaps it’s time for another listserv message??

Photo from hoosierhalf.com

Bowling!

There are many things that I miss from home.  I know that one thing that I always had fun doing which relieved my many stresses from my undergraduate life was bowling – at least once a month.  I learned of bowling from my father because he was in a league that bowled once a week, and I took it up too.  I bowled so much that I got my own bowling ball and bowling shoes (and I’d suggest getting bowling shoes no matter how much you bowl because you’ll probably bowl enough in a year to equal the rental for the shoes).

In Bloomington, Continue reading

Elected and here to serve IU graduate students!

Photo from http://www.indiana.edu/~gpso/

Photo from http://www.indiana.edu/~gpso/

The Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) is an organization dedicated to serving the entire graduate student population at Indiana University, Bloomington.

  • Need money for a conference to present your amazing and original work?

With a core group of elected and appointed officers the organization works to provide financial support with research awards, travel grants, and even conference funding.

  • Are you having issues with using your graduate student health insurance plan?

GPSO is first and foremost an advocate for graduate students, working on student health care, stipend reviews for current graduate students, and campus safety concerns to name a few.

  • Where am I going to live? Is there childcare near IU? How do I set up my new IU email account?

While the officers and staff of GPSO cannot act as real estate agents or IT support , they can lead you in the right direction by putting you in touch with the correct individuals. There is also a great resources tab on their website.

  • How will I meet other graduate students not in my school or department?

Community building is very important in graduate school. In addition to networking and building a new base of friends, its a great time to take a step away from reading, writing, and working. GPSO plans great social hours, professional development events, and family friendly events.

OKAY! OKAY! You caught me! I am a little biased about this organization. From 2011-2013 I was the elected President of GPSO. Either way I wholeheartedly believe in the work of GPSO. I urge incoming graduate students, as well as current student students to get involved and take advantage of the many opportunities offered through GPSO.

 

Bloomington in the autumn

The autumn is probably one of the best seasons to spend in Bloomington.  With the crisp air, falling colored leaves, and smells of barbeque and tailgates, it brings to you the true college town atmosphere.  Not only is Bloomington ranked as one of the best college towns in the U.S., but it should also be considered to be one of the best destinations for visitors and tourists.

With nearby Brown County, stroll the streets of Nashville, IN, shopping for antiques, boutiques, and goodies.  Stop by The Big Woods Pizza and Brewing Co. for a local brew and pizza.  This weekend, we had the Breakfast Pizza … biscuits and gravy with an omelet all in one! Mmmm …

Don’t forget the infamous Oliver Winery.  An Indiana favorite has jazz festivals, outdoor seating, and fun activities for the whole family.  They also have an outlet on the Square in downtown Bloomington.

Lastly, the city of Bloomington has cool boutiques and local restaurants to match your flare.  Chose from “farm-to-table,” ethnic, and good “down home” Indiana and American fare!

Book your trip to visit IU today!

Navigating IU

Let’s face it: the IU-Bloomington campus is huge.  At almost 2,000 acres, it can be quite a challenge to navigate, even for those of us who have lived here for over a quarter of a century.  To ease the load a little, here is a quick guide to navigating IU:

First, it’s OK to walk around with a campus map.  Yes, people will probably laugh at you as they walk by, but they were in your shoes once too.  I’ve lived in Bloomington my whole life and despite that I still get confused as to what the building codes mean.  After 25 years, I still look at the map – it’s OK!

Second, explore the town!  I know graduate school life is busy (especially your first semester), but take the time to get to know Bloomington – it’ll save you time in the future when you need something specific AND you can be the one to suggest that awesome burger joint or cocktail bar when your friends are looking for a cool place to hang out.  Bloom Magazine is a great place to find information about local restaurants, shops, and more.  Conveniently, it is free and can be found at many local establishments (I usually get mine from Bloomingfoods on Kirkwood).

Breaking Away Poster 001

A must see for any IU student/alumni. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

Third, ASK!  I personally love to share my own personal taste and insights about IU and Bloomington – whether it’s about a good place for lunch or where to find information about how to find classes.  I can’t think of anyone whom I’ve asked for help who hasn’t been excited to share what they know.  When it comes down to it, people love to help (especially Hoosiers!).  So find someone who knows their way around the university and the town and let them be your guide and encyclopedia.

Finally, watch Breaking Away!  I would venture to say, it’s an unspoken requirement for any IU alumni to have seen that movie.  It will help you appreciate the university and the town, and see what the campus looked like over 30 years ago.  The film is delightfully entertaining and full of little bits of wisdom, and I guarantee it’ll make you appreciate the pains of growing up.

Navigating IU may seem like a daunting challenge at first, but as you grow to know the campus, the people, and the town, it’ll gradually feel like home.  Just keep seeking out new places, things, and people to explore and your appreciation of IU and Bloomington will deepen.  The best advice I can give you about navigating IU is how former IU Professor Oliver Field often concluded his letters: “Onward!”

Fall in Bloomington

Fall is finally here in Bloomington!  So far the season has brought the usual cooler temperatures, changing leaves, mid-term exams, and darker beers.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m enjoying every bit of it.  Fall is definitely my favorite season.  I always found it paradoxical that as the leaves on the trees fall and much of the plant life fades, the students at Indiana University are just getting their feet under them, settling in, and discovering all the new wonders of Bloomington.  It’s a strange juxtaposition how student life blossoms as much of the natural world fades and slows to prepare for winter.

Brown County Hike 10202013

Hiking in Brown County. Photo courtesy of Amy D.

It is an appropriate contrast however, given the wealth of opportunities that each new academic year brings.  This is truly an exciting time of year when the outdoors is beckoning for us to enjoy it and new avenues of involvement, study, and leadership open up as we roll into a new school year.  I was fortunate this past week to have to chance to meet several promising prospective students at the Getting You Into IU event hosted by the University Graduate School.  Over the course of dinner at Uptown Cafe, I heard many inspiring stories from students across the country that truly touched me and for that I am grateful.

GU2IU 2013 BW

Dinner at Getting You Into IU 2013. Photo Courtesy of Aminta M.

The tales that some students shared truly humanized some of the challenges that are faced by first-generation college students and highlighted the hard work that students across the country are putting in to set themselves up for success after their undergraduate studies.  While they were thanking me for showing them around, I was bursting with thanks to each of them for inspiring me and renewing my enthusiasm for graduate school, helping others, and sharing stories and experiences with others.  I am excited at the prospect of having some of these students join our ranks here as graduate students and wish all of them the best as they continue to consider their options for graduate school.

Cooking! Affording grad life through eating.

Cooking in graduate school. Photo courtesy of www.chronicle.com

Through my assistantship, I am fortunate to have a stipend.  However, I am not rolling around in cash, and my stipend is just enough to feed me, house me, and have a little lift for entertaining me (movies, dinners with friends, and yes, shopping).  Yet, I have to be Continue reading