Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Structured Summer?

Breaking News: I have been looking forward to this summer for months. 

Okay, maybe not the most breaking of news, but hey, still true. This summer has so many things in store. To name a few, this Thursday I'm going to see my favorite comedian; my birthday is next Friday; 4th of July plans is going to be explosive (if you'll pardon the pun); and I am going to be a bridesmaid in my oldest friend's wedding.
Mind you, those are just some of the big events.
And they're actually not the point. 
The real thought that provoked this post is "Wait a second, this will be the first summer ever where I have a place I have to be every day." Never in my life have I experienced this phenomenon. Usually, as soon as school's out, there's a mad dash to see all of my friends one more time and then we all go our separate ways for the summer. A military upbringing and a college lifestyle do not make for a lot of continuity or community in the summertime. Sure, when I was a wee tot, I spent my summers chilling around my family's house. We'd go camping, work on house projects, do pretty much whatever. But there was no structure to it really. Then we moved to Italy and spent our summers traveling. Well, we spent any expendable time we had traveling but, again, no structure in the summertime. Since coming to college, this is the the first summer where it didn't completely make sense for me to go spend the summer with my parents. I already have an apartment here and my parents are going to have a pretty transient summer. That is to say that I don't summer feel like living out of a suitcase enough to join my parents on their five week trip around the northwest corner of the US.
Basically, up until this year, summer has been this weird blob of time where I don't really actually completely have to do anything. 
That is not to say I didn't get things done but nothing was ever required.  
This summer, however, that will not be the case.
For the next six weeks, I will be in class for four hours a day, Monday through Friday. After those six weeks are up, I'm working the summer orientation programs hosted by my university. Besides a few random days off and weekends, my summer just morphed into being like every other part of my year.

My summer has a schedule.

Seriously, I have to be up in time for class at 9 and rested enough to be able to sit through 4 hours of class. Once work starts, my schedule will shift but it'll still exist. 
I have a summer schedule. 
And I'm kind of excited about it. It means that I will actually be doing things this summer. Besides doing classes and eventually working, I want to be better about working on all of my writing projects (which likely means I'll be posting here a lot more) and getting back into running. I have goals and places to be this summer. 
Well, that's one more step on the road to adulthood. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lessons from a 19 Credit Quarter

Holy cow. It's done. I am officially finished with my first (and hopefully only) 19 credit quarter. On top of that, I managed to swing straight As in all four of my classes. If I ever had any doubt that I'm good at school, this past quarter cleared it right up.
Honestly, I've been trying to sit down and write this post for a week and a half. Even now, I'm thinking about which Netflix flick will claim the next part of my evening. But, after a week and a half of decompression time, it's time to blog.
To kick this off, let me just say that this quarter was crazy. I call it my 19 credit quarter because that's how many credits I was taking officially but, for about half the quarter, I was also taking 2 credits of volunteer training. 19 + 2 = 21. 21 credits...until I was cracking under the pressure and, unfortunately, had to remove my 2 volunteering credits from my schedule. Did you know that someone in the professional college world suggests that students should spend 2 hours doing homework/studying for every 1 hour they spend in the class? 21*2 = 42. While 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, I was dumbfounded after I did that math. 40 hours a week of homework? Every single week? On top of spending time in class? I get that I'm a student and that school is important. But I am also a human. Humans need time to do other things--like eat and sleep. And, okay, I'll be honest. I wasn't spending 40 hours a week on homework. Nor (after mid-quarter) was I spending 21 hours a week in class. And, let me tell you, things felt much more sane after that.
Contributing to how crazy this quarter felt were all of the surprises that popped up. Whenever I told anyone that I was taking 19 credits, they offered sympathy and/or empathy. For perspective, 15 is the average course load. So 19 credits is a lot, both to those who haven't done it and to those that have. After this quarter, though, 19 credits doesn't feel like such a big deal. Surprise. Now, see above. I'm good at school. I have been since kindergarten. Back then, it was because I loved it. Now, however, I think it's more force of habit. School is what I know, so it's very easy to be good at it. That said, I am surprised that I managed to pull all As. Two 300 level classes, a 400 hundred level and a Spanish language class--not actually an easy combination. It feels like (and maybe sounds like) I'm bragging but I am seriously shocked at this quarter's grades. It makes me wonder what would happen if I enjoyed a higher percentage of the work and applied myself more. Not gonna lie, I did most of my reading for these classes with this or that TV show playing in the background. Except Spanish. Focusing on Spanish anything was too hard with an English audio soundtrack in the background.
But not all surprises were academic. Eventually (perhaps inevitably), most of these surprises became situations that had to be dealt with. For this or that reason, I'm sure that the others involved wouldn't super appreciate the details of those social situations appearing here but I will say that I learned a lot about my friends--both old-ish, brand new and every where in between. I learned a lot about who values me, how they value me, and who is just completely full of it. Pro-tip for anyone who is earnestly interested in being my friend: don't tell me you want to hang out and never pull through on it. It gets really boring to hear. 
On the flip side, however, I would like to say a thing or two to my baby dragon and my live-in cat:
I am dearly pleased to have met and become friends with both of you. It was a much livelier quarter with you two in it and I am grateful for all the cuddles in addition to the experiences. I hope that you are both enjoying your respective summers but, also, hurry back. I miss you.

I guess the concise way of expressing the feeling that this quarter has left me with is, when I look back on this quarter, I can see how much it inspired me to (and sometimes demanded that I) change. Scratch that, not change, but come more into my own. You know that joke "Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she'll conquer the world"? Well, I think I found the shoes. I'm just waiting to put them on. 
Why wait? Because, for the moment, my path is planned: finish college. After that, we'll see what happens :)
I'll tell you a secret, though...I bet I'll try them on a lot more often now. 
Look out, world. I am Robyn. Here me roar.