So how’s everyone doing so far?
Seriously, how are you?
Take a moment to think about your first few weeks of the new term. Alright, I’ll do it with you.
Hmmm…great to see old friends…nice to meet some new students…Grad Club trivia was a blast (as always)…our Faculty of Education barbecue was enjoyable…my first days as a TA were a bit nerve-racking…
How did you do? Perhaps your first weeks have been a whirlwind of social events and your Facebook friends list has seen an increase in numbers. Perhaps you’ve felt some anxiety during your first week of classes, and have questioned whether you can handle all of the readings and assignments. And maybe you’re new to Kingston, or even Canada, and have found adjusting to a new place, climate, or culture unexpectedly overwhelming.
This time last year I was having difficulty settling into my new life as a grad student. I missed the world of teaching, and to be honest, I simply just missed the world. Returning to Canada after six years living abroad was not as easy as many would expect. You’d think that coming “home” would be exciting and comforting, but I had changed and so did my perceptions of Canada. If you are an international student, or someone returning from time abroad, and you’re finding it hard, I feel your pain.
In hindsight, I should have done more to help myself cope during my adjustment period. If you find you’re having difficulty settling in and feeling comfortable in your new environment, there are services at Queen’s that can help.
The Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) is hosting a “Back From Abroad – Now What?” Re-Entry Session on Wednesday, September 19th from 3pm-5pm at the International Centre, Churchill Hall (http://quic.queensu.ca). You can meet other recently-returned students, share your story, hear stories from others, and get advice from a counselor on future study/work opportunities.
Besides dealing with the trials and tribulations of adjusting to life back in Canada, I also found it difficult adjusting to life as a grad student. Talk about feeling foreign! Proposals, literature reviews, and stats, Oh My!
There were many days when I felt like I didn’t belong in the intimidating world of academia. Countless days would be spent chatting with a friend and fellow M.Ed. candidate about our many ideas for a research topic. When it felt like we weren’t getting anywhere we would write down our interests, post them on a board, tear them down, write some others, and design a concept map looking for some connections.
We expected continuous and tangible progress with each new day. Some days would amount to little, and others would be spent immersed in literature or writing an assignment into the wee hours of morning. By the second month I acknowledged how imbalanced my new lifestyle would be. Some days I’d wonder how the day would pass with little to show for it, and other times I would buckle down and yield results. In hindsight, those days that didn’t reproduce anything tangible actually were some of the most beneficial as far as brain progress is concerned. After all, we all have our own process, right?
If your process needs a productive push then you should take advantage of the services that are offered by the School of Graduate Studies.
There are workshops that can help with time management, avoiding procrastination, and maintaining motivation, such as the Expanding Horizons workshop on October 2nd (http://www.queensu.ca/sgs/exphor/schedule.html). It’s worth attending, especially if you know that you are prone to preferring Pinterest over project proposals.
Now that you have some information to help you settle in, it’s time to buckle down and work…