Friday, September 21, 2012

A Day in The Life of an Art History Grad Student

Because I know you all were constantly wondering what it is that I do with my days, I will enlighten you on the daily schedule (more or less) of a graduate student in art history. Get ready to be very, very jealous. 

7:45 - Alarm goes off. Commence to snooze for appropriate amount of time. 

8:15 - Snooze one more time.

8:22 - Get up too quickly and immediately get massive head rush and almost fall over. 

9:13 - Leave apartment to head to the class I'm TA-ing. Spend one whole minute trying to get the lock off my bike. 

9:15-9:25 - Constant prayer mode that I do not get sideswiped by a bus while riding my bike. (Yes, I have an awesome helmet, but how much can that do when up against a bus??) 

9:30-10:50 - Sit in the back of TA class and periodically tell people to get off Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/etc. Feel really bad about this because I do not like confrontation. 

10:55-11:05 - More prayer on the ride back to my apartment. 

11:10-3:00 - Read various philosophical or theoretical texts. "Wait!" You say, "I thought you were in art history, not philosophy!" Yeah, I was under the same impression. However, it's all lofty theory at this point - how to achieve absolute knowledge and true self-consciousness and stuff. I'm sure it will all tie in at some point. Otherwise I will be just a little bit peeved. Oh, and I also eat lunch in here at some point, often accompanied by an episode of Friends, because seriously. I need to stay sane somehow.

3:15-3:25 - Wonder how long I will be able to hold out before I no longer want to ride my bike to class. As of now, it is still charming and pleasant, but come 30 degrees and slush, I may change my tune.

3:30-6:20 - Class. Hey remember when those 75 minute classes at Valpo used to feel so long? Ha! Those were the days. Usually we get a break, but not all the time! So that's a full 2 hours and 50 minutes of me feeling a little dumber every time someone says something really intelligent, when all I want is a dictionary so I can look up some of those big words they're using. 

6:30-6:40 - Ride home dazedly on my bike. Feel as though brain has turned to mush. Not much time to recuperate though because ...

6:45-7:10 - Dinner of some sort, usually of the sandwich variety these days.

7:15-whenever I can't stand it anymore - Read, read, read! OK, I'll be honest, I'm not constantly reading the ENTIRE time. Sometimes when it gets to the point where I feel like I'm just "looking" at the page and no longer "reading," I'll take a break to check every social media outlet, hoping I can find some posts with improper use of grammar so at least I can feel self-righteous about that! Then I head back to the arena where I no longer feel I understand the English language at all... it's a balancing game, people. 

12:00ish - Fall into bed and complete one Sudoku puzzle out of my little book, because I find it's therapeutic to end the day under the theme, "And now for something completely different..." 

So that's basically it! I bet all of you are already Google searching the application requirements for art history, right? I thought so. In all seriousness, it's not too bad though. I have always been a nerd at heart and I enjoy school, even when I spend most of the time feeling very confused. As Papa Lange always said, "Think of it as a game! A puzzle you have to solve!" Granted, he was talking about math and I never thought it was very good advice. Worst game EVER, Dad. But I digress. As much as I complain, I like the challenge of a good puzzle. And I have been doing a lot of puzzling thus far. I suspect I will continue puzzling to some degree for the next two years. But hopefully at the end of it all, I'll be a much brighter person and also be qualified for some sort of employment. (That's really the true puzzle right now, right?) 

I guess I forgot to mention all of the procrastination I do, too. That should result in an influx of Sparlke, Sparkle posts. Now you're really feeling lucky... 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grad School, Or Why I Suspect My Eyeballs May Fall Out Before May 2014

Hello all! It's that time of year! I've turned the AC off and opened the windows to let the brisk fall air sweep through my apartment. The leaves are starting to turn their respective shades of red, gold and orange. Football season is in full swing (as is volleyball, but no one seems to care about that) and we Illinois fans are hunkering down for another long season of mediocrity. Isn't it great?! Oh yeah, also I will miss ALL of that because I will be reading until the END OF TIME.

Let me take about five lines of blog here to vent juuuust a little bit. How do the professors think we can get all this reading done?? I'm talking about hundreds upon hundreds of pages per week! It's crazy! And it's not like reading Harry Potter... it's reading Hegel! I thought Kant was really difficult to get through, and now I'm reading Hegel and Kant is starting to look more and more like Harry Potter... I'm not a slow reader generally, but I'm averaging about 30 pages every 2 hours. Yikes.

And scene! That's it people, that's the true story of my life. I feel a little bad complaining because how many times did I try to get into grad school? (Answer: more than once.) So I know that this opportunity is a huge blessing and I honestly do feel excited to go to class and see what the discussion will bring. However, it is pretty overwhelming at the same time. Maybe I'm just not quite back in "student mode" all the way. I still want my evenings to be free for relaxing, but alas, this is not to be so.

And yet of course I'm not literally reading every single second of the day. Of course I give myself breaks or I'd go insane. I hang out with friends or go see my fam because it changes the pace a little bit. It's just a lot of work and I'm still learning how to balance it all. But that's sort of just life, eh? Doesn't everyone have a big project at work or a huge paper to write or a house to clean or something and it just seems like it's taking over your life? I know they say death is the great equalizer, but I'm willing to debate that it might be stress.

As your fall gets into swing, I hope you find time for balance in your life. Try to remember that at the end of the day, you did what you could. And if you didn't really do what you could, you can try again tomorrow. No one can be motivated 100% of the time. It's OK to take a break now and then. Maybe I'm just trying to reassure myself, but I do believe the old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." And I really don't want to wake up one morning to find the news talking about how one of my friends got so consumed by his or her work that they chased their loved ones around with an ax and ended up freezing to death in a hedge maze. I just don't! It's morbid. So, please, for everyone's sake and safety, do a little something you love at least once a day, even if it's just a for a few minutes. You'll thank yourself, and people will probably want to be around you more often too! (You know, because of the lack of ax.)

Well, now that I've gone on for a while here, it's time for me to get some reading done...