I have been enjoying my summer in Corvallis and working for New Student Programs & Family Outreach in orientation. The time has been flying by and I thought since this second year will probably be done before I know it, I should share my reflections about my first year in the CSSA program.
My first term at OSU was a bit rough. I had just returned from serving in the Peace Corps in Bolivia that summer and the pace of life there is…well, a lot slower. It was quite an adjustment to go from no deadlines and the “always tomorrow” mentality, to having papers due, going to class (and having to arrive on time), multi-tasking, learning all the new multi-media outlets (I thought Twitter was something birds do), using a planner, answering emails, etc. I knew grad school was going to be challenging the first term not only because I had lived in a third world country for two years before, but I also hadn’t been in school for a few years, so reading textbooks and writing papers were a thing of the past. I was a bit anxious the first few weeks and definitely overwhelmed…but in the end, I passed all of my classes, made some friends, got comfortable in my assistantship, and found out that Twitter is a social networking site. What I learned my first term is that I don’t have as much time as I thought I would…the ceramics class I had signed up for through the Craft Center was a good idea at first, but by week five I was lucky if I made it to class. I also was a conversant partner through the English Language Institute which was fun, but hard to find the time to meet with my partner. I also barely exercised which definitely increased my stress level.
Winter term I decided to put myself first. I took a 1-credit yoga PAC class (physical activity class) and LOVED IT! It really helped me put at least two hours a week of focus on myself and by the end of class I felt so much healthier and calm. I also started saying no. There are so many ways to get involved in student affairs at OSU and although this is fabulous, if you go to everything it is exhausting. So, I decided to prioritize what I went to and didn’t feel guilty any more if I couldn’t make it to something. I attribute my yoga class and extra effort in putting myself first as the reasons why I loved winter term. I also started getting up and going to bed at the same time each day and usually got at least 7 hours of sleep…sleep is essential to productivity!
Spring term was busy because I had an internship, theory class, my assistantship picked up in order to prepare for summer orientation, and I had to travel a few times for conferences and a family engagement. I took yoga this term as well and started using Dixon rec consistently which definitely helped me manage what life threw my way! Another task that takes place spring term is the Mid Program Review which I didn’t really know too much about until a month or so before. It isn’t really stressful, but you should definitely think about it early spring (if not sooner). Ask second years about it if you have questions.
So, what I learned from my first year is that some things are out of my control and that is okay. It is good to be flexible and make time for yourself. Take a PAC class (it doesn’t have to be yoga) and don’t over extend yourself. Be sure to manage your time, I think that is the key ingredient to being successful in this program. Also, ask questions and hopefully us second years will have the answers!!!