January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
The first two weeks of this quarter have been much more challenging (and exhausting!) than I imagined, and I already feel like I’m behind. While this isn’t wonderful, I feel like this sentiment is prevalent among many of my 1st-year classmates which makes me feel a bit better. At least others feel like we’re floating down a river without a paddle, haha.
My average week looks so beautiful on Google Calendar but its beauty is deceiving, like a pitcher plant or one of those bug zappy things. I’m taking a full course load of 18 credit hours, working at the Center for Teaching and Learning, and participating in the Directed Independent Language Study in Swahili through the Center for World Languages and Cultures (CWLC). Yikes! I know I’ll make it work…as long as I can figure out a way to survive and adopt the sleeping habits of giraffes.
December 19, 2011 § 3 Comments
DECEMBER 19, 2011
First-year Josef Korbel student Morgan Gibson was assumed missing for weeks, beginning in mid-October. The timing of her disappearance lines up almost perfectly with her first midterm for International Political Economy, after which Gibson would have begun writing her final papers and studying for her statistics exam. Friends of Ms. Gibson claim she was last seen huddled over a laptop in the Driscoll study area, muttering under her breath about the relationship between food security and civil conflict.
“Morgan told me she didn’t realize how much time it would take her to finish her final papers,” says friend and fellow first-year Xian S. “She thought it would only take a little longer than an undergraduate paper…so did I. So did I.”
Although Morgan’s exact whereabouts were unknown until Sunday evening, the search and rescue crew used her frequent Facebook posts, typically involving cats or dumb YouTube clips, as a clue that she was still alive, if not fully mentally intact. Ms. Gibson was recovered from what appeared to be a hibernation chamber made of numerous journal articles and books. It appears that, upon completion of her final paper, Gibson fell asleep clutching her copy of Social Statistics to her chest.
“What year is it?” demanded Gibson, upon waking up and scratching her Rip Van Winkle-esque beard. “Can someone get me a grilled cheese sandwich?”
With care and copious amounts of holiday food, Ms. Gibson should see a full recovery in time for next quarter and will be posting more on her blog.
October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
While almost everyone else seems to be done with midterms (lucky friends!), mine are just really getting heated up. I had my statistics midterm at the end of week 5 (last Saturday), but next week I start my 4th class of the quarter (Field Operations for Humanitarian Assistance) on Tuesday, turn in a draft paper on Thursday for Civil Wars and International Responses, and have a take-home midterm to turn in on Friday for International Political Economy.
I’ll post some more detailed thoughts about Korbel, my classes, and how I feel like I’ve found an intellectual home later. For now, I’m going to wolf down some breakfast and head to class with one of my favorite professors (Lynn Holland)!
October 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
On any given day in the Cyber Cafe (the common area on the ground-level of the Korbel school where students study and meet up), you’ll overhear a conversation that goes something like this:
Student 1: Hey, you! How’s it going?
Student 2: Oh, man. I have SO. MUCH. WORK to do! I’ve been reading for hours and I still have more reading to do! And I have to write a memo! And my favorite TV show is on tonight so I just have to take a break and watch that!
Student 1: I’m right there with you. Graduate school is great, but I feel like we have no lives!
Graduate students love to complain about “having no life” or about “having no time for fun” or “why can’t I just sit around in my pajamas for one week and reread Harry Potter?” Okay, maybe that last one is just me, but I truly think the amount of self-pity about the graduate student’s typical course load is out of proportion to the actual amount of work we do. And it entirely possible to find time for fun and family and all of the things that keep us sane when we have legitimate claims about the insane amount of work we have, you just have to plan and be flexible. We have mustache-themed parties, we take full days off to go explore the city with new friends. Sometimes even bigger life-changing events happen. This weekend, my boyfriend paid me a surprise visit and proposed to me on Sunday. Now I’m engaged and in between reading and writing summaries of articles, my Mom keeps calling to ask me about wedding details (give me a break, I’ve only been engaged for 4 days!).
My point in all of this, is that you can (and must, to keep your sanity in-tact) find a balance between school and the rest of your life.
October 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
All ye soon-to-be Korbel students, beware the lull of the first and second weeks. Sure, you just moved to a new city and you want to explore. And, yes, you might not have had as much work for those first 2 weeks worth of class. But the third week…that looming paper prospectus, the 400 pages of reading (for only one class), and those relatives of yours who just happen to be passing through Denver all in the same week…they’ll get ya. But, hey, you’ll have a few sleepless nights, chug a pot of coffee or two, slap on some clothes that hopefully don’t make you look like a drifter, and head to class.
Or, you could heed my warning and make sure to look ahead in your syllabi, use Google Calendar (so many colorful labeling options!), and avoid letting yourself slip into a false sense of security. The choice is yours!
September 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
After a wholly relaxing day of exploring S. Pearl Street with my roommates (and finding a tea house, coffee shop, and tons of local shops and restaurants), I’m finally getting to work. I just finished reading and doing some exercises for my first statistics class (which meets on Saturday afternoons, weird!) and I could not be more excited for this class! “Wait,” you may be saying to yourself. “A development student who is excited about statistics?!” I know, I know. I’m probably the odd lady out in this bunch, but I can’t help it! I’ve never been the best at math, but statistics have always excited me. When you study statistics, you start paying more attention to the information around you– and in many cases you find that it’s misleading.
Apart from being able to debunk claims made by major news networks, a strong quantitative background is surprisingly important in actual development work, whether you’re researching for a think tank or you’re on the ground with USAID. For those of you considering the M.A. in International Development, think of taking a basic statistics course during your time in undergrad to get a leg up and start seeing the world in new ways. If you have any questions about the statistics requirements at the Korbel School, or if you would like to declare YOUR love of statistics, please leave a comment!
September 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
According to The Sound of Music, the beginning is, apparently, a very good place to start.
(You really only need to watch the first 30 seconds of that, unless you love remixes of classic musicals.)
Today was the official beginning of the first quarter of my graduate school life at the Josef Korbel School and I am so relaxed! I’ll pretend it’s because I am completely caught up on the next two week’s worth of reading, that I’ve started working on all of my term papers, and I’ve been running regression models all day. I’m definitely not calm because I don’t have my first class until Thursday night and that I’ve been unpacking and organizing my room and thus creating a false sense of accomplishment. …LAY OFF ME, I’LL GET TO WORK SOON. I’m really excited for my classes this quarter, even though my advising session during orientation included this conversation:
PROFESSOR: So judging by your schedule this semester, I can tell you’re a returning Peace Corps Volunteer [PCVs have a shorter time at Korbel and usually take more classes per quarter].
MG: Oh, no…
PROFESSOR: Oh! So you’re trying to finish up early then!
MG: No, not that either… I guess I’m just motivated?
We’ll see how that goes! My classes this quarter are International Political Economy, Field Ops for Humanitarian Assistance, Civil Wars and International Responses I, and Statistics for International Affairs. I’ll post more later, maybe after I’ve started on my readings for this week.