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Posts Tagged ‘college’

Thanks to the wonder (or devil, as you like) that is Timeline, I can unequivocally say that today is my 8 year Facebook anniversary.

More than anything else in my life, that makes me feel old.

More than friends having babies; more than getting married; more than the Beloit mindset lists.

More than my impending 10-year high school reunion; more than 19-year-olds in major league baseball.

More than babysitting a kid who says, “Whoa! You were born in the 80s??” with a mix of wonder and horror.

Social networking is what does it.

Congratulations, Facebook. You win.

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Freshman year of college some friends and I were pre-gaming a frat party (naturally), when one of the girls took a call from her mom. As they talked, the rest of us continued to drink, and I, trying to be thoughtful, kept an eye on Jules. I figured she wouldn’t want her mom to know she’d been drinking, and I didn’t want her to give herself away.

Everything was going swimmingly when all of a sudden I heard Jules say, “Happy New Year!” and I snapped to attention.

No one else noticed.

Crap! I thought. Her mom’s totally going to know! It’s only September – not even close to the new year! Seriously, how drunk is she?

As soon as she got off the phone I asked her about it, wondering if her mom was upset.

Elizabeth,” she said, “it’s okay. You know I’m Jewish, right? And that Rosh Hashanah starts tonight? As in…the Jewish New Year?

No, no, and yes.

Color me embarrassed.

But, since that night, I’ve paid much closer attention to all religious holidays – out of both genuine interest and a desire to not get caught off guard.

So, in that spirit, learn from my past ignorance and don’t be confused if you hear wishes of a happy new year today and tomorrow.

Trust me: no one’s that drunk.

L’shanah tovah!

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I had an unwelcome realization this morning that caused me to mutter my first, “Oh, fuck,” of the day before even getting out of bed.

While I was mentally reviewing the day’s schedule – work, history reading, econ class, French oral (go ahead), more history reading – I realized that midterms are coming up. More specifically, my econ midterm is coming up in two weeks.

I know that sounds like a lot of time, but considering I still feel like I’ve just started classes and we’re already four weeks in, I have a feeling that the next 14 days will go by faster than I’d like.

And even though those refresher courses were helpful for the basics, I can’t help but think of the last time I was tested in economics – and just barely eked by with a passing grade (or rather, what seemed acceptable to me). As a perfectionist, my pride was wounded.

I had studied like crazy, spending hours in the library with those who had a better grasp on the subject than I did. I’d been poring over the text, my notes, and other readings, in addition to attending review sessions. (I recognize only now all the extra time I had during undergrad.) By the time the exam came, I was ready. I knew my International Monetary Economics inside and out.

Except that I didn’t.

And now I’m having flashbacks. Because we’ve been told that in order to stay in this particular grad school program, a certain GPA must be maintained. And econ is my academic Everest.

So studying begins tonight. (Freaking out began this morning.) I can guarantee that it won’t be pretty, and that there may be tears. It won’t be the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.

I’m asking you all, since you’ve been so good with the advice, what are/were your tried and true studying techniques? I clearly don’t have a method, yet, that works for this subject, so I’m open to just about anything.

I just refuse to let econ win again.

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First of all, thanks for all the well-wishing yesterday! Class went better than I’d hoped, particularly considering it was economics. And, even without my Wonder Woman lunch box (or rather, I suppose for grad school it would be a dinner box), I’m ready to go again tonight.

And now that I can be completely calm and carefree about my own experience, I can reflect on some of the things I noticed yesterday.

You see, some of my classes are on the undergrad campus. And so, when I biked down yesterday I had to dismount sooner than expected – due to the hordes. I don’t know if you’ve noticed (or, if you remember from your own college experience), but freshmen are incapable of walking in packs of fewer than five. They are the biggest proponent of the “strength in numbers” theory, and I get that. But it also made me realize that the only difference, really, between freshmen and tourists is a fanny pack.

Photo Credit

Think about it:

1) Travel: They both travel in packs, and manage to take up an entire sidewalk, regardless of the size of the group. I suppose it’s understandable (though not appreciated) when the group is five across because they simply can’t stand not walking next to each other. But it boggles my mind how just two people can take up the same space. Regardless, let’s try either a) the buddy system – walk with a partner, or b) walk like you like each other. You don’t have to hold hands, but we’re not in middle school dance mode either, so you don’t have to be quite so far apart.

2) Directions: Now, tourists are more likely to ask a stranger for them (though, after the Criminal Minds episode I watched last night, I won’t be stopping to help), but the similarity comes in when they don’t ask. Both tourists and freshmen have this habit of stopping dead in their tracks to pull out a map/look around/debate which way they want to turn. I’m going to say this as nicely as possible: if you don’t want me to run face first into your back (or run you over), MOVE TO THE SIDE.

3) Escalators: It’s not stand-in-the-middle-and-marvel-at-the-fact-that-you-don’t-have-to-exert-any-energy-to-get-to-the-metro. It’s stand right, walk left. I don’t know why this is so hard, but I’ve seen countless first year grad students doing it, too. Please stop. Seriously.

4) Monuments: This is more of a “know your surroundings” type of thing. You will be scoffed at if you confuse the memorials of Lincoln and Jefferson. Or if you don’t recognize the White House. And especially if someone says “the Mall” and you ask about shopping. I wish I could say I’d never heard that…but I’d be lying.

5) Wonder: Not all of the similarities are negative. In fact, the way that both groups wonder at and enjoy a new city is fantastic. They get excited about seeing the aforementioned monuments, or catching a glimpse of the motorcade. They love the ties to history, and the newness of discovering these things for the first time.

Which means that I was wrong. The fanny pack isn’t the only difference.

Freshmen will eventually acclimate. At some point they’ll look back over a list like this and be just as frustrated with a new throng of freshmen, and the continuous influx of tourists. And they’ll also become a little bit jaded, over the monuments, and only seeing the motorcade as an interruption to their busy day.

Tourists, on the other hand, will never realize that you actually can walk on an escalator.

But they’ll always be awed by the city.

Photo Credit

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You know that feeling you get when you just know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be? You know that whatever’s happening is exactly what’s supposed to be happening? It doesn’t happen all the time, so when it shows up, it might take a minute to recognize the feeling. But you still know it.

Not counting relationships, which I won’t get too schmoopy about here (for now), I’ve had that feeling only three times in the past eight years.

1) In the spring of 2002, when I was a junior in high school, I did my college visits. I only looked at four – I suppose you could say I was picky – but I didn’t need to look at any others. Hopkins was the last one my mom and I visited. It wasn’t a particularly nice day for a tour, and we’d been caught driving in torrential downpours the night before. But it didn’t matter. As soon as I stepped foot on that campus, I knew that that was where I wanted to spend the next four years. And I didn’t regret it for a second.

Hello, gorgeous.

2) I had that same feeling when I first interviewed for my current job in October of 2007. I left the office thinking, this is perfect. It’s everything I want. So when it was offered to me, I didn’t have to think twice. And again, no regrets.

3) And now, that giddy feeling that I had on Friday? Going to my grad school open house? Well, that’s apparently just the precursor to the this is exactly where I’m supposed to be feeling. Because as soon as I got to the school, I knew I’d made the right decision. As cheesy as it sounds, I knew I belonged there. Listening to the professors and other students describe their experiences only reaffirmed that.

It’s funny, for me, how some of those big life decisions can come down to a gut feeling. Especially when I’m usually very much of a pro/con list type of person. Or an overanalyzer. But I’ve learned to trust my gut with these things.

And, especially considering how the first two gut feelings turned out, I couldn’t be more excited about what’s in store this fall.

When you make decisions, do you trust your gut? Or are you a list maker, weighing each option carefully?

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Nearly six and a half years ago, I was anxiously awaiting an essential piece of information from the university I’d be attending in the fall. It wasn’t a course schedule or orientation information. Oh no, it was much more important than that. I was waiting for my roommate assignment.

I was nervous, to say the least, after all the roommate horror stories I’d heard, plus my lack of confidence that the roommate questionnaire was really capable of pairing me with an appropriate match.

But, after all that worrying, and imagining the worst possible scenarios, something ended up going very, very right. Jus and I clicked instantly.

First week (maybe the first day?) of orientation. So young...

None of the roommate tales I’d heard would have had me predicting that we’d live together all four years of college, but that’s exactly what happened. And while those four years provided us with oh-so-many stories (at least one of which I shared), there’s one story from freshman year that proved early on what a good (and tolerant) roommate Jus was:

Some of the details are a bit fuzzy. The night had been a celebration of accepting my sorority bid, and therefore, an initiation of sorts had taken place. A very good, and very strong, friend had carried me a good part of the way back home, and had even called Jus to let her know we were coming. They both put me into bed and figured that was that.

Except, I must have gotten up to use the bathroom at some point in the middle of the night, and when I walked back into the dark room, I could see Jus asleep in her bed, and (what I thought was) someone asleep in mine. (Turns out, it was just the way the comforter was positioned…who knew?)

So, thinking that my bed was taken, I made the only logical choice. I crawled into bed with Jus and proceeded to spoon with her for the rest of the night. She didn’t kick me out. She didn’t wake me up. She just nudged over a little bit to make room for me. And when we woke up in the morning, and I realized that there wasn’t, in fact, anyone in my bed, she just said, “Yeah, I wasn’t really sure why you got in bed with me, but I wasn’t too worried about it.

She’s clearly the best. And today is her birthday.

So happy birthday, Jus! I hope you celebrated well this weekend.

And maybe even did a little spooning.

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I have to tell you guys, I’m getting a little nervous. About my future.

Wow, hold on, it sounds so dramatic when I put it like that. Let me be more specific: I’m getting nervous about my grad school applications.

I’ve known for a while that I wanted to go back to grad school. I took my GREs back in July (and you all were super supportive – thank you!), and have narrowed it down to three programs that I think would really fit my interests. Hell, I’ve even made a dent in my personal statement which, for me, may be one of the most difficult things to write.

(You know – I don’t want to be too informal, but I definitely don’t want to come off as pretentious. And I want to sell myself, without sounding like I’m trying to sell myself. Life’s tough.)

gradschool1

In any case, like I said, I’ve narrowed it down. But that may be the problem. From the advice I’ve gotten, I should be keeping my options far more open than that. I should be applying to multiple programs, all across the country – anywhere from five to ten or more, not just the three that I love. Although, if I’m being honest, of those three programs there’s only one that I actually love. The other two I just like a whole lot.

And aside from that, I really don’t have  a Plan B.

I’ve been so focused on the requirements for Plan A (and A2 and A3), that it’s taken me a while to realize that this won’t be like undergrad college applications. Back then, I applied to one school – early decision. I only had two backup applications – neither of which were ever sent out.

I knew what I wanted; I went after it – blinders on; and, very very luckily, it all panned out. What are the odds of that happening again?

After work today, I’m headed off to a grad school open house, where several different schools will be represented – each having similar programs to my Plan A. If only to increase my chances of getting in to grad school, I’ll be trying my hardest to keep an open mind. But I can already feel the blinders setting in.

So maybe it’s time to start thinking about a Plan B – just in case I’m not so lucky this time.

That is, of course, if I can get these stupid blinders off. Uh…can I get an extra hand, here?

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