Friday, October 01, 2010

On life as a grad student

So far, life as a grad student has been pretty good. I've gotten into a home routine that's been keeping my tummy full and my apartment pretty clean, and I'm finally over a series of sickness: allergies, ear infection, cold. It was a pretty depressing time, but at least it allowed me to get used to my environment and understand the resources I have at my disposal... Like which TV channels I get!

In terms of school itself, there's been a lot more reading than I expected. Of course, I did expect a fair amount of work, but for some reason, I thought it might be a bit more assignment-based, kind of like in undergrad programmes. The reading isn't too bad, mostly because the texts are new to me and interesting. Well, most of them. Every week, there's at least one super long, boring, overly-jargoned, hard-to-read text. And by super long, I mean at least 26 pages of photocopied left and right book pages.

Thankfully, I think I've nailed down a reading technique that works for me. First off, I work best on my couch, at home. Not at my desk or in a coffee shop, but on the couch. Go figure!! Working at the office at school is also okay, but only when I need a change of scenery. It doesn't work well on a regular basis, not because it's too loud, but because it's too quiet!

Also, I've discovered that reading off a .pdf works best, unless I'm reading directly from a book. With the .pdf, I can highlight and mark up the text without ruining it, and it's easy to refer to it later on, during class. For the class in which I have to read books, I've been using different-coloured sticky markers to save pages with important discourses on the various topics I'm tracking, and that seems to be working fairly well too. At the end of the book, reading or chapter, if it's an essay collection, I always try to write a few notes on my impressions, questions and the important lines of thinking in the text.

Overall, I think I'm doing a pretty good job at staying on top of things. My next objective is to start incorporating more physical activity in my routine, once my (new) physio clears me for some more active movements. Unfortunately, my plan to bike around town hasn't worked out so well, mostly because the main streets I need to take are pretty bumpy and therefore jarring for my knee, which then causes pain. Still, I'm hoping that I'll be able to build up my strength again so that maybe, by the winter, I'll be able to take part in some cool snow sports again.

And on that note... Time to get back to award applications and readings!

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