I’m really sorry I haven’t written anything for so long. Life has been hectic and a bit difficult. Case in point is that I’ve been meaning to write and publish this for over two weeks. So it’s time for another “this hasn’t turned out as I expected but that’s okay” posts (I had one when I was in Spain, too).
Grad school is not what I expected, to be honest. I kind of wish someone had told me that it would be hard. I figured…it’s an extension of what I studied in undergrad, what I’m good at, so it’ll be easy, right? Ha. Nope. It’s not to say that it’s not worth it though. In the moments I don’t feel overwhelmed, it’s energizing.
I definitely underestimated how difficult this transition would be. I figured I was in a good place this summer, and I was so ready for the change. It would be new. It would be exciting. I definitely idealized it. I was going to leave Illinois! Finally! To go to the very metropolitan state of…Nebraska? I would be at a giant university, in a city that was a lot bigger than Charleston. So, I’ll detail some of the things that have surprised me and what I’ve been up to.
First: Lincoln is “big,” but it’s actually a small town. Population wise it’s big. But it’s not the thriving metropolis I had imagined. Which is totally okay. I didn’t want to go to a city like Chicago. It’s kind of the happy medium: it’s bigger than Charleston (i.e. it has multiple Targets, Paneras, Noodles and Co., Chipotle, etc). But it’s a big town disguised as a small town, with the exception of Memorial Stadium, that is…
Second: Husker Nation, man. Go Big Red! They’re crazy about football here. It makes sense. This definitely surpassed my expectations. I eagerly purchased season tickets and I wasn’t disappointed. Husker football games are one of a kind. You could go not liking football and get excited at the sheer atmosphere. I guess 90,000 people, most of them Husker fans in attendance cheering will do that to you. Definitely unique. They have sold out every single game since 1962. Dang.
Third: big universities breed big resources. The UHC (University Health Center) is way better than EIU’s Health Services (sorry, EIU.) they have massage therapy available to students! They have little café’s in almost every building. Their vending machines take debit cards. It doesn’t take much to impress me, I know. It’s so different than EIU.
Fourth: Nebraska Nice. It’s a real thing. Everyone I’ve met has been super welcoming and I definitely appreciate it. It was one of the things that impressed me when I visited and swayed me towards attending here. I’m glad I did, even though not everything is going as expected.
I definitely did not think that moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone would be so hard. On the surface that sounds kind of dumb. But it’s the truth. I have gone through so many transitions in my life and I think this one is the hardest yet, because it’s so many transitions all at once. I moved to a new city in a new state. I am living in an apartment for the first time. I am cooking (mostly) regularly for the first time. I changed therapists. I changed medication. I changed schools. I changed churches. Everything has changed. And let me tell you, it’s been disorienting.
I am no longer the Jocelyn I was at EIU. I can’t be, because circumstances have changed. I am moving into a different stage of life. One that is not as simple as undergrad life was (whose simpleness I did not realize until it was no longer that way) but one that is a whole lot more complicated…
Who am I now? That’s the harder question. I am so thankful for my time at EIU. It has changed my life in so many ways. But I’m not the same person I was just 6 months ago. I don’t completely know who I am, but that’s okay. I am finding my place here. I am thankful for friends who tell me that I belong, because a lot of times my insecurity yells at me that I don’t belong. I don’t know completely who I am. I know who I want to be…a successful academic and Spanish teacher. Right now I seem to be a struggling grad student.
So any way you view it, my life is far from perfect. But I never said it was. I embrace my mess, because Jesus embraced the mess of being human, and he embraces my mess. And if he does it, then why not me? So, there it is: I am having a hard time with grad school.
What surprises me is the fact that I love teaching. This was very unexpected. I had so many anxieties about having to lead my own class when I had never had any explicit teaching experience. But the good thing for me is that it comes more naturally than I would have thought. (And I do think that a lot of that comes from the leadership experienced I gained from being a student manager for Panther Dining). I totally thought I would be bored teaching Spanish 101 because, well, it’s Spanish 101. But it’s quite the contrary. I am excited about it because learning a second language is very beneficial, because learning a second language is so different than any other thing: it’s not just learning new words; it’s learning a new culture, taking on a new persona. And that’s cool and very useful. Now, my students don’t really share my enthusiasm…but that’s okay. I have good days and bad ones, and I learn from both. I already know how I’m going to do things differently for next semester. Teaching has been quite the adventure, but it’s encouraging to me that I have this passion.
The grad classes part, on the other hand, is significantly harder. So. Much. Work. I seriously assumed that it would be easy because I’ve always been a good student and because undergrad was easy. Obviously, I’m having to adjust my expectations. I think these next several years are going to be the hardest years so far. But I hear they’re rewarding. Well, I know it’ll be rewarding when I get to teach all the time about what I love. In the mean time, I have a mountain of projects to do and hopefully somewhere in this process I’ll figure out how to manage my time better.
Consequently, I’ll be stepping off Facebook until the semester is done. Life is too crazy to worry about Facebook.