5 Ways to enjoy the (campus) Staycation


Who isn’t excited to have a little time off? But often as graduate students we don’t have the option to bail on teaching and graduate responsibilities during breaks. Whether it’s because traveling is too expensive or have an approaching deadline for a project you will, on occasion, find yourself in town during a school break. Staying in town when the majority of the student body vacates can seem disheartening, but have no fear, here are five hidden ways to enjoy your campus staycation.

1) First, appreciate the silence. Ok maybe not complete silence, but the bustle of cars, buses and people everywhere tends to settle down during long breaks.

2) Remember that you’ll have a more flexible schedule. The demands of seminars, attending meetings and/or teaching courses are reduced (if not eliminated) thus allowing you to be more flexible with your days. Perhaps you can take the opportunity to sleep in or leave campus early.

3) Get out and explore the town! Our schedules are always jam packed, so we rarely have free time to explore. Go ahead and try a new restaurant. The wait times are usually non-existent during long breaks, so treat yourself to that new place you’ve been wanting to try. This is also a great time to catch a movie, go to the gym, library or other campus hotspots that can feel overpopulated during regular semester hours can be easier to manage during the breaks.

*FYI* Check operating hours as businesses may adjust times or close for repairs due to fewer patrons.

4) Resources are abundant, whether trying to use the campus printing, valuable office space, or the machines that always seem to be taken. It is highly unlikely you are the only one around, but there are far fewer people everywhere making it easier to access shared equipment.

5) Lastly, you are not alone. There are tons of other grad students in the same boat. Plan to meet up with people you don’t get to see regularly because of your busy schedules. So use the time to reconnect with old buddies or if you’re new to campus, use it as an opportunity to make new friends.

Fly With Me

Photo from prtl.uhcl.edu

Photo from prtl.uhcl.edu

Though it may seem like a tiny dot of light at the end of a long, paper lined tunnel, there opportunity to go on leisurely breaks throughout the semester do exist; particularly around major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, and the oh so festive Winter Break where one is expected to do nothing but visit with close family and/or friends, and gorge themselves shamelessly on seasonally appropriate goodies.  Continue reading

What Profit?

courtesy of youtube.com

I was driving to Bloomington, my normal routine every morning my first semester of graduate school.  Now I know you’re wondering, “Why drive fifty miles back and forth every day?  Why didn’t you move to Bloomington?”  This is when the flashback noise would begin and the water effect would take you and I back to January 2012. Continue reading

Love nature, art, and microbrews?

One of the Nashville shops selling trinkets and homemade snacks. Photo courtesy of www.browncountyshops.com

Nature, art, and microbrews are just a few minutes away in Nashville, IN.  This quaint little town is located about 15-20 minutes west of Bloomington in Brown County.  I especially love going to Nashville, IN Continue reading

Campus internationalization

Internationalization is both an internal and external phenomenon for higher education institutions.  Because of our globalized world economy and the increase in international opportunities, this impacts everyone no matter their interests of study and research.  Whether or not you study physics, education, law, business, or psychology, our worlds are becoming more and more international.  That is why it is important to consider how international your institution is when deciding where to attend.

IU is international.  Along with its international strategic plan and its new School of Global and International Studies, IU’s alumni reach all corners of the world.  The programs here allow for study, research, and travel abroad to learn about your area of discipline in another country.  Experiences like these can only help you in your pursuit for a job.

Chicago … a metropolis only a short drive away!

For those who enjoy large, bustling cities, Chicago is only a short drive away.  On a recent trip to the windy city, only over three hours drive from Bloomington, I enjoyed a dinner, theatre, shopping, and cultural! Firstly, I enjoyed dinner at Russian Tea Time before laughing out of my seat watching The Book of Morman at the Bank of America Theatre around the corner.  After a wonderful night of music and food, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile has all the shopping to offer plus the Christmas spirit at the ice-skating rink in Millennium Park.  Thank goodness the weather wasn’t too cold, windy, or snowy … Chicago can be brutal with all three.  My day was also accompanied with culture with a dim sum lunch in Chinatown and tacos in La Villita.  With only a short drive from Bloomington, Chicago offers a change of pace to students who are looking for a weekend away.  Don’t forget to stop by near by Indianapolis along the way!

Marhaba Y’all!!

This semester, I am diving head first into new territory:  Arabic.  Well, I should not say new territory.  As an undergraduate, I studied abroad in Dubai for one semester.  During this time, I studied Arabic, but did not retain much after my return stateside.  A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to revamp my Arabic studies, but did not know when I would have the time.  I was just starting my coursework, and did not have the time nor mental energy to place on learning a new language.  So, I waited…and waited…and waited…and now the time has arrived.

Studying a foreign language as a graduate student has been very different from my experiences as an undergraduate.  As a first-year, I did not see myself traveling abroad.  I had no connection to the language.  However, now, I see the importance of being multi-lingual.  Communication is a very powerful tool, and vital to being /becoming a global citizen.

I am just in the first few weeks of study, but I can honestly say that choosing to study a foreign language in graduate school has been one of my best decisions.  It is a lot of work. Somedays are great…others, not so great.  However, I keep trying.  I enjoy going to class everyday (yes, I have a class that meets Monday through Friday), but I love every minute of it.  If you get the chance to study a foreign language, take it!  You will not regret it.

Ma’as salaama!  (Good-bye!)

A tale of three spring breaks …

On my first year as a PhD student, I took some time off for spring break and flew back home for 10 days. While it was great to see some of my family and friends, it turned out to be a bad idea. Not only, did I accumulate a ridiculous amount of work, (it took me about a month to catch up and get back on track), but I also manage to upset the rest of the people that I did not have time to visit. I learned that, it is better to go home once a year for 3 weeks than going twice for 7-10 days each.

During second year, I decided to treat spring break like any other week. Besides, the nuisance of planning around the campus shuttle limited schedule, spring break turn out to be much more productive than I expected. Comparing my experience against other grad students’ experiences it seems that what made my experience such a pleasant experience was the fact that my expectations, although ambitious, were not completely out of reach. I just put together the workload I expect to accomplish on a typical 2-3 week eriod into one week.

This year, I traveled to Seoul, South Korea as part of an IU-AGEP delegation. During the professional development tour, we had the opportunity to learn about their higher education system, share our research, meet with faculty and graduate students, and experience some of South Korea’s culture. It was a great trip!!

Ever traveled to Canada?

I know Canada doesn’t sound too exotic, right? I was recently in Vancouver, Canada attending the Society for Research on Adolescence’s Biennial Meeting. This was the conference’s 14th gathering to date and the first time it was held outside of the United States. I attended in part, because I was selected as a 2012 Junior Mentor–an honor that pairs current doctoral students with selected  talented underrepresented undergraduate students whom are about to transition into graduate studies. As a Junior Mentor, I attended  an all day pre-conference, served on a panel having to do with graduate school funding, and I primarily spent my time mentoring and networking. Overall, participating in this program was the highlight of my trip.

Although I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest–this was my first time visiting Vancouver, Canada. I will admit, Vancouver, Canada is a beautiful place. My trip was a reminder that when I complete my Ph.D. program, I would love the opportunity to find a faculty or university position in my home region.

Schedule A Campus Visit.

I highly recommend that you do visit your potential graduate school institution, it is a smart decision. Simple put, a visit can go a long way in your own personal ranking of a program.

When you schedule a visit: 1) be sure to take a tour around campus, 2) meet with faculty in your intended program, 3) come prepared to ask questions and seek out opportunities to meet with current graduate students, 4) keep in mind what the cost of living will likely be, and 5) do as much research ahead of time to give you a head start & also make time to have some fun on your trip.