After taking a few months off, the writers here at the Gradifying blog are back and excited for another year of sharing our thoughts and experiences about graduate life with you! Every Wednesday we’ll be posting about various topics related to things going on at Queen’s, things we’re attending in the Kingston community, thoughts on issues graduate students face or tips on how to make your year an even better one! As always, if you have any suggestions or thoughts for future Gradifying posts, we’d love to hear them so you’re always welcome to leave us comments on our posts. We also want to let you know that we have several new writers joining our team this year! You can get to know them over at the Writers’ Profiles page on our blog, or just keep an eye out for their posts in the next couple of weeks as they introduce themselves. This fall I will personally be heading into the fifth year of my PhD (and hopefully my last!) so I’ll try to keep you in the loop about how that’s going (or not going) as the year progresses.
Now I’m not sure if this was just me, but I’ve found this summer to be much more busy than anticipated. What happened to those summers where you could lay on the beach (with proper skin protection of course) soaking up the rays, where you spend careless evenings on outdoor patios with your friends, or just pass the time by running through sprinklers with careless glee? (I may be thinking a little too far back with that last example…) For many of us graduate students, we don’t get summer off. We’re still in the lab finishing up our experiments, or we’re in the libraries even after the undergrads have abandoned them, we’re completing our summer internships, placements or practicums, or we’re just straight up stressed out about that looming dissertation. I hope that despite these commitments that are an inevitable part of graduate student life, you’ve been able to get outside and enjoy the nice weather and possibly get away for a bit, putting your work on hold momentarily for some much need rest and relaxation.
Some of our graduate students this summer were lucky enough to get away for a week by participating in Lake Shift offered through the School of Graduate Studies. For five days in July Queen’s graduate students joined students from across Ontario at Lake Opinicon at the Queen’s Biology Station (a 50 minute drive from Kingston) and worked towards making progress on their dissertations while also making time to enjoy the beautiful location by going for swims in the lake, boating, hiking and hanging out around campfires. Others are heading out to Elbow Lake towards the end of August for Dissertation on the Lake, another wonderful opportunity to write in an inspiring location surrounded by others who are going through the same thing you are. Though it’s too late to sign up this year, you should really keep these opportunities in mind for next summer and sign up early to reserve your spot.
For those of us who stayed around in Kingston for most of the summer, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) planned a number of fun events to keep us entertained! There was Beach Volleyball at The Mansion, Bouldering at the Kingston Bouldering Co-op, Raspberry picking at Fruition Farms, Board Game night at The Grad Club, and Water Day with Trailhead where we tested out Stand-Up Paddleboards at Breakwater Park on Lake Ontario. There’s also a few more events lined up towards the end of August, with Thesis Therapy on August 16th – an event that brings in St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dogs for you to pet away your stress (we’re hoping that this will be a recurring event throughout the year, because it’s way too cute not to) and a historical walking tour of Wolfe Island on August 25th where we get to know more about the island that’s only a 20 minute ferry ride away.
The SGPS will be keeping events going throughout the year so there’s always something to do. Board game nights will become a monthly event to look forward to, there will be regular Run & Socials, cooking classes, Sports days at the ARC, hikes out to some of the many beautiful parks around Kingston, and a lot more to look forward to! All of the events are posted on the SGPS facebook page and can also be found on their website here. Speaking of things to do, I’m sure you’re aware that the first week of September is going to be packed full of Orientation and (Re) Orientation events – which means, even if this isn’t your first year at Queen’s, you’re encouraged to come out to these events because there’s always more about Queen’s or the community to learn. Also chances are you weren’t able to attend everything you wanted to the first time around, so you’re welcome to come out now. All the orientation events will give you an opportunity to meet graduate students from across disciplines and make that community that is so needed to help support you throughout your degree.
All the School of Graduate Studies Orientation events are listed on their website here and include a not-to-be-missed Welcome and Resources Fair on Tuesday September 4th in the ARC where campus departments and community organizations are brought together all under one roof. It’s a great way to learn what resources are offered on campus, but also ways to get involved in the community as well. Wednesday September 5th will be a Teaching Development Day where you can learn practical skills about how to be a TA among other things. There’s also a Meet the Deans event on Friday September 7th where you can get to know the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Associate Deans. Your department will also likely have their own orientation events. If you haven’t already been emailed about what they’re planning then you can reach out to your own department to find out more.
Finally every evening of that first week of September and the weekend afterwards, the SGPS will be running various fun social events to allow you to get know other graduate students. You can see all the SGPS Orientation Social Events here! I’ve also included the thumbnails for these events below so you can see just how much is happening! Yes, it’s a lot. During my own orientation year ago I was only able to attend just about 10% of all the events held, and each year during I try to come back and do what I missed previously. Sit down and figure what events you want to prioritize, but do try to make an effort to come out to as much as you can because you learn a lot during that first week that will help orient you during the rest of the year!
Many of us Gradifying writers will be at the Orientation events this summer, and so you’ll likely be seeing the upcoming blogs recapping on how they went. Subscribe to Gradifying to see our latest posts! And please make some time to enjoy your last couple of weeks of August. Go for some walks, take a dip in the lake, have a weekend getaway with some friends, and get ready for the exciting back-to-school busy-ness that will be September!