Monday, May 12, 2014

some real talk

We'll start this post off with a nice little pep-talk that I got last night from my Yogi Tea bag as it was steeping and as dumb as it sounds, it was nice to read because I really needed to hear it. Interestingly, the inspo-tea (as it were) wasn't telling me that life has to be amazing every single moment of every single day - instead it says to enjoy every moment. A moment doesn't become enjoyable necessarily because something great is happening, you can find ways to make yourself shift your perspective in order to find a way to enjoy a moment...even if they are not great.

I'm just about done with my Master's degree and while I am so glad that I was able to have the opportunity (not only to go to graduate school but also to go to such an amazing institution) I will be real with you and say that a good chunk of this year - especially the last two terms - have sucked.The program is great, but what they attempt to make us do in a year is insane especially at the level of the University of Chicago where you (as a MA student) have to do more work than the PhD students. To put it in perspective, PhD students take 5 classes per year and are fully funded + given a stipend for the first 5 years. Thus, the majority of the PhDs I spoke to here do not do teaching nor do they have a significant job on the side. Plus, they can put off their term papers indefinitely, so I know a few PhD students who still have papers left over from there first year here. 

On the flip side, the people in my program take 9 classes per year, while writing their thesis on top of their usual class load (most courses in English lit have 20 page papers due at the end of each term so 20pgs x 3 classes per term + your 30+ page thesis + 100+ pages of readings per week = a lot of stuff) and most of us have a job in order to make ends meet, because we have zero funding.

All that was to say that it has been rigorous and although I do not regret coming here at all, I now know that there is no way I could ever do a PhD here - mostly because the average PhD takes 7+ years to complete at UChicago. Imagining being in this environment for 7+ years makes me cringe. But if I hadn't done this program, I would never know what type of environment I would like or need to survive, I wouldn't know for sure if I even wanted to go to grad school, and I wouldn't have the language through which to talk about my field in a way that makes me sound like I actually know stuff. That is how I'm forcing myself to enjoy my last moments here, even though I have literally been counting down the days until I graduate. 

Another amazing blessing that came out of this program, on a non-academic level, are three phenomenal girls who became some of my best friends. If I hadn't done this I would never have met them and I honestly can't imagine not having them in my life (how did I survive before??). They have been there for me when I needed to gripe about how ridiculous the systems are at UChicago but they also were there to celebrate how beautiful Chicago is (FRIDAY FUNDAYS!).

So at the end of the day, it's really about perspective and I have been noticing myself inching more towards being a downer, which is something I'm not usually. So I got a nice slap in the face from my Yogi Tea and decided to change my act.

This post was not sponsored by Yogi Tea ;P

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