End of PhD Year 1, Traveling, & Other Plans

I have been woefully inactive on here recently, so I thought I would do a little update. It’s almost like grad school takes up a lot of your time! Actually, though, I am a firm believer that if you want to make time for something, you can, and it has been one of my goals to make more time for blogging and other aspects of my creative life. I’m hoping that if I create that habit now, it will be easier to maintain when life picks back up again.

But, life is moving at a bit of a slower pace now, because it is summer! I finished the first year of grad school! This year, my mind was stretched in ways I never knew it could be. When I was apprised of the existence of 4 (+) – dimensional graphs, I felt like a whole new dimension was added to my brain as well. In a sense, the transition to grad school from undergrad wasn’t all that drastic for me. At college, my classes were also small group seminars and I took it really seriously so the workload, while more challenging now, wasn’t too different either. But, I definitely feel like I am learning how to “think like an academic,” and I now see what all those gradcafe threads meant when they referred to the academic socialization process. (Note: this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think it is kind of inevitable when you get a bunch of smart people together focused on the same goal.) (Note also: if you are a prospective grad student, save yourself and don’t even go on gradcafe.)

Anyway, while it feels like an accomplishment to have finished this year successfully, there is still a long way to go. As a PhD student, one eventually must figure out what their own research will be about. I have a very amorphous idea of what I want to study long-term (and this is a generous characterization). So, this summer, one of my goals is to take time to read a lot of the literature in my area of interest (media/ political communication/ political psychology, etc.), given that not everything makes its way to my class syllabi. I think doing this will help me solidify, or rule out, what I think I want to study. Also, we underestimate how important regular reading is for our mental acuity. I.e., I took 2 weeks off for vacation and to relax, and I tried to read an academic article and my brain was like “what is this?” — so I am going to try to avoid that.

Speaking of vacation, I went to Punta Cana! My boyfriend, 2 of our friends and I all went as a sort of graduation celebration. Here are a few pictures. It was very awesome. If I could live in a tropical climate year round, I totally would.

 

 

In terms of the rest of the summer, here are some things that will be taking up a lot of my time:

  • fitness — I was getting in pretty good shape prior to vacation and, well, you can guess how that turned out 🙂
  • moving!
  • writing — whether for this blog or for potential research projects
  • cooking and baking — I am hoping to have some new summer recipe ideas to share
  • music — I have had an on- and off- relationship with my guitar, but I miss the days when I played every day. It is therapeutic.
  • exploring DC museums that I have not visited yet
  • pool — yes, I really am just trying to pretend I’m still on an island somewhere, but you have to do what you have to do to make reading about selective exposure interesting in the 80 degree weather.
  • more reading, but for fun! I have not had this much flexibility with my own time for over 7 years to be honest, so I want to indulge in books I haven’t had the chance to get to.

Of course, I am sure Netflix will make its way into this list somehow– it always does. But I feel energized and motivated to try new things and also make this a productive summer, so I am looking forward to sharing what that looks like.

-AK