An honest account of my first quarter of graduate school

It was the 6am bus ride to school everyday that gave me the dose of reality I needed. Standing on the corner, hoping the bus wouldn’t be too late, looking into the headlights on Sepulveda, I realized how lucky I was to be going to school at UCLA, living in Culver City, and commuting to work with my anonymous compadres at daybreak on bus line 6.

Atmospheric Thermodynamics, the class that made me question what I was doing at UCLA.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that graduate school is incredibly challenging. What was a shock to me was the degree of imposter syndrome I experienced, and how often I believed I was dumber than those around me.

Any opportunity to learn, whether academic knowledge, or emotional awareness, is a gift. In the end, it was a great 11 weeks, tougher than I imagined, and as fast as I would have hoped.

Me, somehow alive in the middle of the quarter, swimming in Malibu

Some lessons learned:

  1. School life balance is really really hard
  2. Adventure and travel, albeit sometimes difficult, is very necessary
  3. It is totally okay to say no to things
  4. Go to office hours more often before you need help
  5. Take advantage of older students in the program. Learn from their experiences and let it help you anticipate difficulties.
  6. Use study groups to help, but attempt to do as much of your work alone as you can.
  7. Find a way to remind yourself why you are doing this.
  8. Running and swimming can be time to meditate.
  9. I have the best, most supportive friends in the world.
Some of my best friends on a camping trip to Anza Borrego SP

It is now week 7 of my second quarter (wow), and although the classes are still challenging and my days are long, my mind is at peace. I am at peace with getting on campus at 6am staying on campus until 7pm, in fact im beginning to like it! I feel more comfortable with my knowledge and knowing I know nothing. EVERYONE FEELS LIKE THEY KNOW NOTHING WHEN THEY START GRAD SCHOOL. THATS NORMAL.

Decorations in my house from my first official day of grad school

I’m challenging myself to find more outlets. I don’t know what exactly those outlets will be, but I’m getting inspired by little things every day, and I’m excited to pursue it more.

A sunset evening with friends at Topanga

I’m also starting to realize that this will be my life for the next four and a half years, and without inspiration it will blend into a gray mush. I dont like gray mush. I deserve more than that, and its up to me to make a more colorful life a reality.

The north campus pool. One of my most treasured acts of self care.

So heres to many lessons learned, and months that challenge you in ways you werent anticipating. And finally, heres to the ACT OF LEARNING, and all the new opportunities to learn every single day of this process.

Paige and Cailin, my housemates, best friends, and support system.

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