I’m… Going Back to School?

After months of trying to decide what to do with my life I have finally made a decision. Ok, so I still don’t know for sure what I want to do for the rest of my life. That’s a tough question for a 22 year old. But I’ve decided on something to do for the next couple of years that won’t drive me absolutely crazy.

Law school is out. Pursuing a career in publishing is out (at least for the next 2 years). And working in a deli for the rest of my life was never in.

So, what’s next?… Grad school. A master’s degree in education with a single subject teaching credential, to be specific.

I never planned on going to grad school. And the more my mom pushed the more I resisted. I never planned on becoming a teacher. But now that I’ve given it some thought I’m surprised it took me so long to come to this resolution. I think a big part of it was stubbornness. My mom was a kindergarten teacher for several years and I was determined to do something that no one in my family had ever done before. Plus, I always found it annoying that everyone just assumed I would want to be a teacher when I told them that I was studying English. I didn’t want to be a cliché.

Since it took so long for me to finally make my mind up, I’ve only got about six weeks to get everything together for the application process. It’s way more complicated than I ever imagined. Test, letters of recommendation, essays, volunteer experience, and more tests. It’s going to be a busy six weeks for sure.

But one of the things I’m thinking about most right now is what I want to do differently now that I’ve already done the whole college experience once. I had a great four years at my alma mater, the best years of my life so far. I feel like I’ve left part of my heart there. I don’t have many regrets because I would never want to change the way things turned out. But there is certainly a lot I know now that I did not know then.

By the time I graduated I felt like I had finally just gotten the hang of it. I finally knew how to make friends and keep them. I finally knew how to take chances and try new things. I finally knew how to love myself and the people around me. College was a learning experience in more ways than I could ever count. So this time around I want to do everything that I wish I had done before. Now, I just need to figure out exactly what those things are.

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I Do Not Know What I Want

Sometimes you have revelations at the oddest of moments. This past week I got to re-unite with my “old college friends” (OK, it’s only been 3 months since I graduated) at my alma mater. And I did a lot of thinking while I was there. I thought I knew what I wanted for my future, but maybe I don’t.

I loved seeing my friends – some of whom had graduated with me this past fall, and some of whom have one more year. But it just felt so different than it had when we were all students. There was strangeness in the air. A feeling that we could never go back to the way it had been. That doesn’t mean that our friendship cannot one day become even stronger than they ever were before, just that it will never be like it was.

You know that saying “you can never go home”? That saying finally made sense to me four years ago when I can home from college for the first time. And it makes sense to me once again. My university was my home. And as I drove toward the bell tower I felt like I was returning home. But the feeling quickly faded into something different. A feeling that I just didn’t quite belong anymore.

And this all made me think: I really want to go back to school. I don’t want it to be over. I know that grad school would never be the same, I wouldn’t be with the same people and I wouldn’t be in the same city. But it would be school. And school is familiar. I’ve gone to school every fall since I was five years old and this is the first fall I haven’t eagerly packed my backpack up and headed to class.

And this got me thinking about making decisions and what factors I want to influence my decision making. There were two main things that I thought about: Grad School and Boyfriends. An odd match, but hey, my brain is unpredictable.

#1. Grad School (Law School to be specific):

I can’t make this decision based on a fear of the unknown. If I go to law school my life is pretty much plotted out (at least more than it is now). School would be a change and a challenge for sure, but it would be predictable. If I don’t go to law school I have no idea how long I’ll be stuck working at the deli, I have no idea what will come next or where I will end up. I have no idea if the career path I choose will work out (though, that can also be said for law school). I love the idea of living in a college town with other students and going to class every day. I do not love the idea of endless job applications with no guarantee of a better job. I want to go to law school, simply because I want to go back to school. That’s not a good enough reason. I need to want to be a lawyer, and I simply don’t know right now.

#2. Boyfriends:

I’m 22 and have never been in a relationship, and I feel like I’m getting close for the first time in my life. It’s a guy I’ve known since high school and who I re-connected with this summer at work. Now he’s gone back to school and we’ve been talking a lot on Facebook and Skype. While he was here, there was no doubt in my mind that I had a huge crush on him and wanted to be with him. But my feelings have been weakening since he left. If my feelings are shrinking now, how on Earth would I maintain a long-distance relationship if one began?

And why do I want a boyfriend anyway? Yeah, I’m 22 and I haven’t had one yet. So what? Who says that’s unacceptable? Media? Society? My peers? I want to have the experience, to check it off my list so that I can move on. Is that a good enough reason?

But maybe I’m just afraid of the unknown again. How am I supposed to know if I want a boyfriend if I never have one? I like being single. Single is familiar and easy. A relationship would come with its own benefits I’m sure, but it wouldn’t be easy, especially long-distance.

Conclusions:

  1. I think too much
  2. I suck at making decisions
  3. I do not know what I want
  4. When in doubt, go with the brave decision – that is what I have decided to do

A Case of the Pre-Graduation Blues

Do you ever have those days where you keep doing things you shouldn’t be doing and you just keep thinking “what am I doing with my life”, but you just keep doing the same thing over and over even though it’s not making you feel good anymore? Well, I’m having one of those days.

So, instead of refreshing my Tumblr dashboard and checking my emails again, I’m going to turn on some music and blog about it. I’m not sure if that’s really any better, but I can already tell that my fingers have missed typing and it feels better than mindless scrolling.

I graduate in ten days, which I’m so excited about, but I’m just not happy. And I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just end of the semester stress, or maybe it’s because I don’t want to leave. Maybe I’m getting mad at all of my friends and frustrated with everything because that will make it easier to leave. I don’t want to do that.

I want to be brave and face everything head-first, even if that means more pain later. The future is fast-approaching, and I couldn’t run from it even if I wanted to – and maybe that is what I want. I really don’t know what I’m doing with my life, but reverting back to an angsty teenager is not an option.

I need to get my happy back, and I think that might just entail closing my internet browser and getting to work on my final essays. My typical reaction to the blues is a pint of ice cream and a night (or several nights) of complete immersion into the never-ending vortex that is YouTube, Tumblr, and Facebook. But I’ve tried that, and it’s not helping anymore.

I have ten days left as a college student, so I might as well enjoy my last ten days of essay writing. The internet will be there when it’s all over, and I’m sure that not long after these ten days pass I will be blogging about the blues again. But being sad because something so special and amazing has come to an end is so much better than being sad while you should be enjoying those last days of such a special and amazing experience.

Senior Year Panic – Everything is Ending! Forever!

I don’t know what I’m going to be doing or even where I’m going to be living in two months, but the fear of that is finally being drowned out with the thoughts that it’s almost over. It hit me today when I realized that I had played in the Pep Band for the last time.

It was a damn good last time, cheering on our men’s basketball team as they won the Big West tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years. It was one of the best moments of the past four years. But there won’t be any more moments like that. I might never play my clarinet in any sort of band every again. And I will never again cheer and stomp and shout as fiercely as I did that night.

Maybe that’s part of why it was such a special moment. But it also brings a lump to my throat when I think about it. And I can’t stop thinking about it because I chose not to travel with the Pep Band to the NCAA game because I didn’t think I could afford to miss three more days of school. And now that seems like such a stupid decision. But three days ago it hardly required any thinking at all.

This is all I’ve been thinking about all day and I had to get it down into words. But this time, writing doesn’t seem to have made me feel any better. I want my classes to end, at least the homework, but I don’t want everything else to end. This has been my life for the past four years, and it has been the best four years of my life so far. And in 46 days it will be over forever and I will never again experience so many of the things that have become part of my life and part of me.

Funny Professor Quotes

It’s only two weeks into the semester and I’m already sleep deprived and stressed. And I also already have a bunch of hilarious quotes from my crazy professors. At this rate, this is going to be one hell of a semester. Here, for your enjoyment, are some of the ridiculous things my professors have said so far:

“We’re going to start in Hell, work our way through Hell, and end in Hell.” My world literature professor giving an overview of the books we will read this semester.

“I told you about the Nuns right? Well, they beat the shit out of us…” That was just the start of his story.

“I should put sex at the top of the list.” “Heroic, epic, sex.” Trying to list the main aspects of The Odyssey.

“Where’s my chalk?” There are no chalk boards on our classroom, only white boards, much to the consternation of our professor.

“Keep that in mind this weekend: it’s all fun and games till someone falls off the roof… and goes to Hell.” Odyssey reference again.

“I want to go to the underworld with you.” No thanks professor.

My Shakespeare professor walks in on the first day of class wearing four-inch high blue suede platform heels. She walks into the room, her Wonder Woman backpack slung over one shoulder, and says loudly to the class, “How the hell are ya?”

Halfway through class she looks up while reading aloud and stops suddenly, mid sentence, and looks at me and says “Hi Alice! I just noticed you!” I had a class with her two years ago and thought for sure she wouldn’t remember me.

“She sheds like a … shag carpet” Describing her new puppy. You’d think an English professor could come up with a better simile.

Later, he was telling us about a study that showed that students who use laptops in class get lower grades and those who are sitting so that they can see someone else’s laptop screen also get lower grades: “So if you’re really competitive, sit in the front row… with a computer strapped to your back.”

I’m taking a class in which we must create a blog and place ads on our blog. We were all pretty excited about the idea of making a little money, till our professor said, “Don’t get excited, you won’t have enough money to buy a new…<long pause>… sandwich. Maybe a slice of meat though.” (Here is the link to my new blog: http://adviceforthealmostadult.blogspot.com but don’t worry, I’m going to continue with the blog as well)

So there you go, and those were just the ones I remembered to write down. I should have another batch by the end of the semester.

New Semester Rules

            I will NOT have a crush on the cute frat boy who I haven’t spoken to since freshman year. I will NOT click through photos on Facebook when I see his name. I will NOT let the butterflies fill my stomach when I see him walk toward me, and I will NOT stare at the ground or bite my lip. I will NOT let him into my day dreams. I will NOT think of all the ways in which we would end up together if my life was like a romantic comedy film. I will NOT imagine ripping off his shirt or kissing him passionately in the rain. I will NOT think of him when I listen to music about love or the lack thereof. I will NOT continue to pine after a boy who is unattainable. I will NOT allow myself to think I like someone who I barely know.

            I will close that Facebook tab, turn off the cheesy music, shoo away the butterflies in my stomach and the dreams in my head, and open up my text book and focus on the words written there.

(Check out my new blog for practical college advice: http://adviceforthealmostadult.blogspot.com)

Thowing Away the Papers of my Life

            I was cleaning my room the other day (it’s about time, trust me) and I came upon a box of stuff from high school – which I guess only ended two and a half years ago, but it feel like such a long time ago. I had kept all of my notes, my papers, handouts, quizzes, everything that had anything to do with school. To be honest, this is still a habit of mine. I hate to throw anything away – but I’m trying not to become one of those crazy hoarders you see on TV – but I really hate to get rid of my school stuff.

            I held a stack of history notes the size of a novel in my hand and grudgingly placed them in the trash with one final look. It suddenly became clear in that moment why it was so hard for me to part with these messy pieces of paper and why I had kept them all along: school was my whole life.

            In high school I had no friends. I had no social life. My family life was dramatic in all the wrong ways. I never went to a single party, I went to the movies with “friends” a grand total of three times in four years, I spent every lunch period in the library alone. I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live, except in one category: school. Well, not really school in its entirety, but school-work. School includes all of the lunches spent alone, awkward dances that I attended dateless, failed friendships that I was unable to make happen. School-work was what I was good at: pen to paper, quiet thinking, studying, reading. Still to this day, I’ve never been as good at anything as I am at school-work.

            But today my life is so much more complete than it was just three years ago. I have a life outside of the words I write and the exams I take. I still love school, but now I also love spending Friday nights with my roommate at the movies, and Saturday nights in the Pep Band, and Monday nights talking about books with my English club friends. I love my life so much more now than I did then. I hope that with this new-found happiness, letting go of my college school work will be easier, because school isn’t my whole life anymore.

What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting College

Right now I should be doing homework, which leads me to #1:

  1. Don’t procrastinate. Everyone knows this, and pretty much everyone ignores. I can’t count the number of times I have wanted to kick myself for making that same mistake over and over again. This semester I have had way too many nights staying up till 4am doing homework. My real advice on this subject would be to keep track of everything that is due, that way you at least know what you are procrastinating on. Also, if you have a class in which you are supposed to write weekly papers that are only collected like once a month, write them weekly, do not put them off until the night they are do (I’ve had personal experience, in case you couldn’t tell).
  2. Grocery shopping is hard. It is my third year college, but my first year living in an apartment, so it took me a while to figure this out. I still haven’t figured out the right amount of food to buy and I still think grocery shopping with my roommie is a bit awkward. It’s hard to know when to spilt the cost, when to just divvy up the groceries, and when to put your foot down. I don’t like the same food as my roommate. I’ve wanted to buy pasta all semester (because it is cheap and easy) but I haven’t because she is a pasta fiend and I do not want to eat her pasta, but if I go to buy any she will tell me not to because she has pasta in the cabinet. And she looks at me like I’m crazy when I buy whipped cream.
  3. Go to class. Everyone is going to tell you this, and odds are you won’t listen. Just remember that you are paying to go to class. Not going to class is like throwing away very expensive movie tickets… sometimes to a very bad movie. But still.
  4. Don’t tell your roommate every little thing that bothers you about them. Only mention things that are really going to cause a problem or drive you nuts. I still don’t know why my roommate is so bothered that I don’t immediately throw the cardboard toilet paper thing (what is that even called?) in the recycling as soon as I switch the roll. Is it really so bad that it sits in the cabinet for a month? On the other hand, if something is really bothering you, try to bring it up gently before it becomes a major issue. My roommie likes to open all of the blinds before I get dressed even though she isn’t even going to be in the room. It is really starting to piss me off.
  5. Headphones. Wear them. No matter how much your roommate tells you that your music/ TV show/ movie is not distracting them while they are trying to study, they are lying. It is so easy to wear headphone, so just do it. Same goes for condoms (just thought I’d throw that in).
  6. If your sleep schedules don’t match, be courteous about it. I’m going to stop complaining about my roommate for a minute, because I’m completely guilty of this. She goes to bed at 11pm every single night (which, honestly, is a bit ridiculous), but I would stay up between 1am and 3am on any average night and as late at 5am when I had important essays due. Your dorm should have a lounge or a laundry room where you can go. Also, don’t go to bed at 11pm every night.

OK, that’s probably it for now. I may post another one of these next fall, and maybe I won’t complain about my roommate as much. College really is a fun and unique experience, so enjoy it!

Infuriating Professors

            I would like to preface this by saying that I typically like my teachers. I think teachers/ professors are usually great. But every once in a while, one of them just gets under my skin. So far in college I have only had three professors that I really didn’t like.

            The first one just annoyed me a bit. The second one made me want to punch someone… her. This third one makes me want to rip my hair out. Here’s why:

  1. She is a hypocrite. The entire class is about learning about other cultures and not jumping to conclusions and judging. But I see her doing an awful lot of judging and stereotyping.
  2. The workload and entire format of the class in ridiculous. There is a fine line between being prepared and being obsessive. This class is far beyond that line, way into the realm of obsessive. We are just studying in circles, learning the same thing over and over again. The class is supposed to help us prepare to study abroad, but we go way too in-depth on certain subjects – like stereotypes of Americans – and don’t even touch on things that I would think would be very important – like how to travel in a foreign country.
  3. She has an annoying laugh, an annoying face, and she needs a new bra (how can anyone not be distracted by that?). Maybe she really isn’t as annoying as I think, but it’s a three hour long class. Anything can get annoying after three solid hours, she gets annoying after about thirty minutes.
  4. She does not read her emails! This is the most infuriating of all. As a professor there are a few things which you are required to do: teach a class, be available during your office hours, give out grades, and respond to your damn emails!!! In all fairness, she does respond, it’s just obvious that she didn’t actually take two minutes to read what we’ve written. I recently emailed her with a few simple questions – my entire email was four sentences long. She responded only to my last question, which was the least important. I need her to answer my questions before I can write my essay.

Ok, my rant is over. I could go on, now that I think about it there are about ten other things that make me want to kick her. Don’t worry, I’m not the violent type. I just sit in class rolling my eyes when no one is looking and coming up with mean nicknames that I’ll never use (she is “Horse-Face”). On the bright side, I only have three classes with her left!!

College, Stress, and Preparing to Study Abroad

            This semester is kicking my ass. I’m currently taking 20 units right now (anything over 18 is overload) and it’s just too much. By the time I get through Monday and Tuesday I’m a complete wreck and I still have to make it through the rest of the week! I know, there are people with real problems, but sometimes you just have to vent. Why does everything have to be so hard?

            Preparing to study abroad next semester is causing me more stress than anything else. I’m trying to figure out how to apply for a visa, I need to fill out yet another packet, I’m required to take a cross-cultural training class which is turning into a nightmare, and that’s all on top of the normal worries of traveling. I’ll need to buy a plane ticket, figure out what to pack, and figure out what my money situation is. I’m also worried that I won’t make any friends, wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do on a three-week spring break, imagining myself spending my 21st birthday alone in my room crying, and freaking out at the idea of getting on a plane for the first time. It’s just so much stress to add to my already full capacity.

            And that class I have to take, I could go on all day. The work load is insane, I can’t do anything right, everyone seems to know something I don’t, I’m pretty sure the professor hates me – and I’m not too fond of her, and I feel like the one point we are supposed to get is that we don’t want to be the stupid American tourist that everyone can recognize from fifty feet away. What is so wrong with that!? I’m an American. I wave to people when I see them, I give people thumbs-up all the time, I use words like “dude” and “bathroom”, I wear jeans and tennis shoes. As long as I’m not offending anyone or giving a bad impression of Americans I don’t see a problem. But my professor acts like the worst thing you can do is act like an American. I’m super excited to meet people from other nationalities, and I hope they are excited to meet me – as I am.

            I’m all for learning about the British culture and their values, customs, and way of life. And I do think it is a good idea to have a better idea of who I am as an American and an individual before I set sail. But I feel like we are over-preparing. I want some surprises; I don’t want to know what is around every corner. What’s the fun in that?

            Anyway, I’m done ranting about that class. I just want to say that this whole study abroad thing sure as hell better be worth it, because there is so much work just to get over there. And I know that once I make it there will still be more work. I fully expect to have the time of my life and to come home feeling like it was so beyond worth the effort. But that pessimist in my head cannot stop thinking of new ways that it could go wrong. I might not get to go at all, it’s definitely possible. I need to pass this class with a 75% – the lowest grade I’ve received in my two-year college education is a B+. But I’ve never had to do well before, it was always a choice. The mere fact that it’s no longer a choice is sending me into a panic. I’m usually an exemplary student, but I’ve been awful lately. I’ve been skipping readings, missing assignments, forgetting all sorts of things, and I even went to class without a pencil the other day! There is a pretty decent chance that I am actually failing that class at this moment. There is still a lot to turn in, but my chances of getting an A are pretty much non-existent. Good bye GPA.

            I guess that’s all I have to say. A bit anti-climactic, I know. Sorry. I’m pretty much going to be going into extreme homework mode now so that I can catch up and stop feeling like such a failure. I just have to make it through the next four weeks, and then I can breathe.