Tag Archives: School

Life in hell

We received this comic in an email from a professor this week (along with a bundle of readings to complete, of course).


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It’s Monday and I’m overwhelmed. I know, big surprise, right?

If my students found out that I’m sitting here blogging instead of uploading helpful information to their course website they would have a bitch fit for sure.

I found an NPR article titled “Three Books for Surviving Graduate School” that is appropriate for the blog and thought I better add it before I forget.


One book, “Piled Higher and Deeper: A Graduate Student Comic Strip Collection” is comprised of funny (and likely cynical) comic strips about graduate school. Can you say “Christmas present for the office mates of 149 Becker Hall!?” No really, I’m serious. Send it to: 149 Becker Hall, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242.

Another book, titled “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” features “a list of fitting punishments for those who confuse “its” and “it’s,” this book is perfect for any grad student — and even more perfect for the undergrad who sent you the e-mail that began, “im in ur 10:00 class, can i have xtension :).”  Oh yes, another MUST! (which would probably help my own writing, to be completely honest…)

Since the NPR article title includes the term “surviving”, and since I’m exhausted and looking for a little motivation, I thought Destiny’s Child was only fitting. Here’s to surviving another week.

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Week 1

Well, our incoming class survived our first week!

I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s been a rollercoaster of a week filled with an exceptional number of ups and downs. The stress about graduate studies is (a) it is sometimes (or often?) very confusing (for example: we are swimming in metatheory – normative, interpretive, dialogic, and critical – in our Interpersonal Comm Theory course…) and (b) it includes such a huge amount of work. In fact, we were told that if even we could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there would still be too much work to be done in graduate school. The same person also recommended that when you’re having a rough time with classes, just ask yourself “Did anyone die?” No? Then you’re doing fine. This advice might sound a little discouraging. Of course we should work hard and always do our best. But the point is to not be too hard on ourselves and to still make time to do normal things.

So with that in mind, we celebrated an incoming classmate’s birthday last night and had a grand time 🙂

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As noted in the last blog, I am taking 3 courses (which is the norm in graduate school). One of the courses (Intro to Research & Teaching) isn’t considered a “real” course though, so it is common for incoming students to take 4 courses. I was unable to do that until now, however, because of a scheduling conflict with the classes I teach. But, I’m happy to announce that a professor has offered to form an independent study of Quantitative Research Methods with me. Because I can’t attend the class for grad students, I’ll attend the class for undergrads and then complete the same work that my peers are doing.  I’m really thankful and excited for this opportunity but am definitely starting to feel the pressure. Thankfully I’m not in this alone!

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Holy cow

I am now registered for classes. This means I can now access my course syllabi. HOLY COW. I am both excited and terrified.

I am taking 3 courses: Introduction to Research & Teaching, Communication Theory, and Relational Communication Theory. The latter two courses are taught by Dr. Leslie Baxter and Dr. Steve Duck. For those of you outside of Communication-land: This is where you say “oooh, ahhh”. But equally important is our incoming group of people and senior students, who are fabulous!

The reading lists are incredibly intense (if an undergraduate saw one they would probably (a) faint, (b) drink themselves into a stupor before curling up into a fetal position, or (c) hurl themselves off the nearest bridge) but include *exactly* what I’m interested in. So for now, I am  rejoicing in what is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I’m currently in the “awww” phase. But not long from now I’ll be in the “awww, shit!” phase, in which reality sets in and I realize the true and serious price that one must pay to academia in exchange for a graduate degree. It’s kind of like in “The Little Mermaid”, when Arial stupidly decides to give up her voice for a man. Only grad students give up THEIR LIVES for a degree.

Sim and I recently went for an evening walk across the pedestrian bridge on campus that runs across the Iowa River. The sun had set and it was quickly getting dark. And loud. I’m not sure exactly what it is here, but the bugs and crickets get really, really loud at night. Like loud enough to disrupt conversations. Anyway, Sim handed me a penny to make a wish with. I thought long and hard about this. Wish to survive graduate school? Wish to present X amount of conference papers? Wish to get a job in X state someday? But really, none of that matters as much as retaining my marriage. This is probably the biggest gamble and hardship of them all when it comes to graduate school (aside from retaining your own personal sanity, that is). Even the most understanding and supportive spouse would be crazy not to notice the unfair amount of time and energy they receive. I’m not talking about wrapping up with work around 9 to have a late dinner together – that would be fantastic. I’m talking about working until 2 am while listening to the sweet sound of your husband snoring in the bed that is calling your name. And doing this night, after night, after night to the point where you find yourself thinking “Hey, you look familiar” in the morning and then realizing “Oh yeah, that’s because we exchanged vows 5 years ago.”

So back to the wish. You can probably guess it, but if I told you I might jinx it. So you’ll have to stay posted for the next 4 years to see what happens 🙂

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Today I attended my graduate student orientation hosted by the Department of Communication Studies.

Our incoming class had the chance to meet each other, as well as some senior graduate students and our new professors. Obviously our conversations, personal or professional, are off limits to the blog. But what I do want to add is what an outstanding group of people are here at Iowa. The department has exceeded my expectations in every step of this process and I’m so excited to spend the next 4 years here 🙂

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