Reflections of a Graduate Student – Year One.

imagesCA20KNSZWell the first year of graduate studies are completed. I have discovered quite a few things about graduate school. I will list my top ten as follows:

1. Having the department head as your Historiography professor the first semester is scary, especially when he looks at you during seminar with a look that says: “Why are you here?”

2. My office is in the basement and I see no sunlight for a good part of the day. I’m happy summer is here.

3. Students, whose papers you grade, feel like you are out to get them, when in fact, you are only trying to help, and they look at you with a look that says: “Why are you here?”

4. Grading 80 finals in two days is torture, especially when they are all essays and answer the same 5 questions. I applaud the professors who do this for 4 classes at the end of the semester.

5. Your “Statement of Purpose” really doesn’t have a purpose for getting you into the Masters’ programs. They don’t even look at that until you apply to Phd school.

6. You can change your thesis at least a hundred times before you get something cohesive.

7. I have lost weight hoofing from the commuter parking area at the very back of Clemson with my numerous bags of books. If you don’t phone the meter maid at the campus police that you’re dropping off books before you park your car in BFE, you will get a ticket if she sees you doing it, and will give you a look that says: “Why are you here?”

8.  There’s never enough research.

9. Russian literature is actually pretty fascinating.

10. Writing a 25-30 page research paper becomes second nature. I remember when I used to whine about 10 pages.

Any way, summer is here, so I’ll be posting a bit more. Lots of great things happening this year. Happy writing!

The ending to the first semester of Graduate School.

WolfIf anyone told me twenty years ago that I would be attending graduate school in my late forties, and at Clemson University, I probably would have looked at them strange. Higher education is something you must be committed too, and ten or fifteen years ago, I didn’t understand that kind of commitment.

It’s taken me awhile to get here. Many ups and downs, lessons learned the hard way and so forth. The past five years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about others. And now that I’ve finished up the first semester of grad school, I’ve learned some additional things about commitment. Graduate school isn’t easy. There’s a lot of reading, and your writing skills must be honed to perfection, especially when you need to crank out sever 25 page papers in a semester and the research that goes with it.

I also thought I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do for my thesis, but I found after writing a paper on World War I, that I’m changing from the era of the French Revolution to this time period. I watched a film called “My Boy Jack,” which was based off the story surrounding Jack Kipling, Rudyard Kipling’s son, and his death in World War I. (If you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you do.) The emotion from the film stayed with me for several days. I couldn’t shake it. It was if a million voices of the lost generation called out to me, and I found myself committed to a topic that caught not only my imagination, but my emotions. I guess that’s what fuels commitment, deep and unfathomable emotion. It’s too bad we don’t incorporate that into everyday life. Perhaps the people who are most important to us would feel better appreciated, and understand our love.

The ending to this year is bringing some changes to me. I don’t know if anyone else sees them, but I know they are there. I sense these changes, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have a wonderful 2014!