Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Working like a doctoral student

My undergrad years were harder than they are for most people, but I got through them in one piece. I've been through my masters and survived. I'm starting my PhD, and I'm sure I'll survive this, too. Just give me a sec.

I've been reading just about nonstop for a week now, and my eyes have fallen out twice already. I have my lab to teach tomorrow, which I've already got my lesson plan ready for, but I can expect to receive several late assignments from two weeks ago, not counting the on-time assignments from last week, which means more grading. A lot more grading. Not to mention (although I feel the need to mention it anyway), more reading. Even more than last week. And it isn't all of my classes that are causing me all of this reading grief... it's actually just one in particular. And the culprit? Well, the culprit will go unnamed. All I'll say is that last week's reading assgnment... all one hundred sixty-four pages of it... just about killed me. This week, there's more. Six book chapters and two research articles. Great... there goes my weekend.

My other classes, I can handle. A literature review here, a critique there, a few readings interspersed throughout. Hard work, yes, but nothing I can't handle. Then, of course, there's this class. Not so easy to get through. The other students undergoing the same grueling conditions are finding their own ways to get through. The two youngest of the six of us, fresh out of their undergrad work, are about to lose thier minds, and are killing themselves trying to take maticulous notes on every single thing they read. Poor babies. One of us actually opted to not take the class, but, then again, she hasn't really been talking to the rest of us much, so I can't report much on what she's up to... I only have one class with her, and no one gets a chance to talk to her then. As for the remaining three of us who already have our masters, we're all pros at this game. Yeah, we do the reading, but there's not exactly pages upon pages of notes to go with each article when we go at it. Some of the articles are lucky to get a thorough skim, at best, particularly if their structures lend to that sort of treatment. The ones that are read more thoroughly get some underlining, maybe some highlighting. That seems to cut it, usually. I'm not saying I slack off when it comes to reading... I'm just saying that, after a few years of being in the school business, I'm starting to get the hang of it. Sure, you read... but you don't kill yourself in the process, no matter how good a student you are.

One thing is certainly different about this program in comparison to the one I just came from: we're about to complete the first month of the semester, and I haven't written a single paper. Not one. At UD, I would have completed three, maybe even four pretty major papers by now, and would have still been holding down a heavy reading load. Aside from that one class with the crazy reading, the work load here (and I say this, despite the fear that I'll jinx things) has been chump change. Seriously... not a single written assignment? Wow. I don't even know that I could have made that claim about my undergrad, even. Oh, well... I'm sure it'll get rougher in a moment. Still, it's a bit of a shock. I hate to say it, but I actually like writing papers. I know, I know, it's blasphemy to even think it, but I've gone there so whatever... chastize away. It's a good way to learn, though, and it's easier to bitch about how much work you're doing in your program if you have a few heavy duty papers due in a week. So yeah, call me a masochist, but I stand by what I say here. I miss the papers. Check back with me in a month and see if I feel the same way... to be honest, it could find myself eating my words before then. Till the papers come along, I at least have this blog, right?

On a brighter note, I have an official date from John on when he'll be here to visit: the weekend right before my birthday, and on the Monday of my birthday as well... Thursday through Monday! Knowing that is giving my ritualistic calendar cross-outs some much needed purpose. So, then, that gives me... what... three weeks, yes? Yes. And the CBGB gig is right before that. Looks like I've got a lot to get ready for. Well... that, and read.


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