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

Graduate Student Emissaries at Work

Along with blogging, giving student tours and being successful Graduate Students the Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity also give presentations. Three emissaries gave a presentation on “graduate school preparedness” at the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program LEAD Conference on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Bloomington Convention Center.

Carl D., Zelideh M-H., and Alfonse P presented two workshops on “Graduate School Preparedness” at the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program LEAD Conference on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Bloomington Convention Center.

~ Photo taken by David N.

Back to Business

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.

Friendly mule down the road from our house

VERY friendly deer… perhaps too friendly.

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!

Winter Break: To leave or not to leave

This year I chose to not do any international or cross-country travel. Instead I took short trips with my family to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Chicago.

Our first day trip was to experience Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo. Where we enjoyed the holiday lights event, partook in kids activities and caught a glimpse of some of the animals.

Next was our visit to the Fort.  Fort Wayne is the second largest city in the state after Indianapolis, and has many attractions. The activities range from shows at the historic Embassy Theatre to an outdoor stroll through downtown and Headwaters Park. While visiting family there we went ice skating at the Headwaters outdoor rink, and later got some hot chocolate at DeBrand–a local chocolate shop.

From there we headed three hours west to the windy city. While in Chicago we visited the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and did some last minute holiday shopping at the Woodfield Mall.  The next morning we had brunch at Restaurante Aguascalientes at La Villita ( Little Village).   La Villita is densely packed with Mexican businesses and what I consider the closest thing to being in Mexico as I can get in the Midwest. 😉

While we didn’t go very far, the quality time spent visiting friends and family at these locations definitely took me out of the everyday routine. 

Next on the list…outdoor winter activities in the area.

Winter Break

So… for the first time in a long time. I actually enjoyed a white Christmas in my home state of Texas. We had a full two inches of snow! For my friends from the midwest and northern states. A white Christmas is nothing to write home about, but for this Texan (whose normal Christmas attire is traditionally shorts and a t-shirt) two inches of snow is extraordinary. So what follows are a couple photo’s from my snow day. Enjoy!

PS – FTOD do your part to fight against climate change, because while snow in Texas is cool. It’s indicative of climate change. Let’s take care of our planet. Peace & Love – J.T.

New year resolutions!

This winter break, I only took a week-off to go home, visit my family and friends, and eat all those delicious home-cooked meals! Anyway, a new year has arrived and here is my list of academic and personal goals for 2012: 1) improve my scientific writing skills, 2) select my dissertation committee, 3) publish at least two papers, 4) learn a new language, 5) incorporate a workout into my daily schedule, and 6) present my dissertation proposal . Some of these goals are more ambitious than others; however, I consider them to be quite simple. The key thing is to celebrate every step because those little victories are the ones that give you the strength to keep moving forward and closer to your ultimate goal.

Holiday Family Fun

Happy holidays to everyone! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I have been back in the wonderful state of Texas for a couple of weeks now, and I am feeling energized and refreshed. I just wanted to share our new family photos with you, my faithful blog readers. Thank you for your support!


PS – You know I couldn’t leave you with out the FREE TIP OF THE DAY. Today’s tip is appreciate your family, because at the end of the day. They are all you got. Also check out the making of our family photos by clicking here.

End of the semester blues

Grad student motivationFinals week is definitely when students are particularly stressed out. As a grad student, we often have final papers or projects to complete for our courses — and I don’t mean the short little “research papers” we had to write in undergrad, either. I mean papers that often take weeks, not hours, to compose and require comprehensive synthesis of major ideas within our field of study.  In addition to completing our own coursework, we often have finals to proctor, and then grade, for the courses we teach. This adds up to a really hectic and often very overwhelming week.

Luckily, once it’s all said and done, we have a few weeks to rest, relax, and spend time with family over the holidays. This doesn’t mean there is no work, just less of it. Many of us will be studying for comprehensive exams, writing dissertation proposals, preparing for dissertation defense, etc.

In the last few years, winter break has been a time of rest and relaxation with my family. But this time I will continue to write my dissertation and prepare for job interviews in January. No rest for the weary.

On the bright side, I hope to complete my dissertation this spring and defend in May. I can see the light, but to reach it I have to keep working.