Grad School: The First Summer

I realize I’m going backwards considering that I’ve already told you about my first year, but I wrote about my first semester and first summer. I wanted to keep all pieces of the journey in one place in the event someone is looking for this type of information.

If you followed me on twitter in June you probably had a good idea of how things went. And if you’ve been a reader for the last few months, or longer, you know about my extended trip shenanigans.

But in case you don’t (or didn’t) here’s a rundown.

I’ve been so productive today I almost don’t recognize myself. I wonder how long I can keep this up.
-Sarah (@mssarahkp) June 9, 2014

I didn’t sleep very much Sunday night, although I did try. I kept thinking I’d miss breakfast or sleep through class. I’m not a breakfast eater and Chicago is an hour behind my day to day time zone (my natural time zone is pacific, in case you were wondering). It’s safe to say I was slightly nervous.

I packed Monday full of activities on purpose. I read the majority of that day’s reading on the flight out (very unlike me) knowing I would be busy then I’d like, even if I did do it to myself, and I didn’t want to fall behind, if I could help it. I went to breakfast, then class, said hi to friends from last year, went to lunch, met with my formation director, did some homework/watched Burn N0tice on Netfl!x, went to a fellowship group, then dinner.

After all of that I basically passed out. Between my natural tendency to be more introverted, lack of sleep, and the adrenaline crash I was pretty shot. I also managed to not make a huge fool of myself, something I consider to be my biggest accomplishment of the day.

2 days of class I’m down a highlighter & a pen from the workload. But I’ve made countless cohorts in mission/vocation. -Sarah (@mssarahkp) June 10, 2014

As much as I told myself I wanted to pack light I also wanted to make sure I didn’t run out of anything. My not-so-trusty & nearly new highlighter bit the dust fairly quickly. My pen didn’t even last until the first break on the second day. Thankfully I had replacements for both buried deep within my bag. Yes I was that person that goes rummaging through their belongings during a lecture.

After class I attended a welcome lunch given by the formation department for distance students before diving in to the reading for the next day. I’ve never been one for campus activities. I was far from being on the planning committee of anything. However I wanted to “suck up” as much of campus socializing as possible since I spent my 1st semester feeling so disconnected from any sort of community.

I may be a little biased but I think the community of distance students is one of a kind.

I kinda want this summer session to last a while longer. 3 more days just doesn’t seem like enough time. -Sarah (@mssarahkp) June 11, 2014

Typically I’m ready to wrap things up by the half-way point but I was wishing I could stay another week. In fact I even looked into the classes being offered the 2nd & 3rd weeks to see if it would be possible to add another class. I asked around for advice and arranged to meet with my advisor as well before I made any final decisions. In the end we agreed that it would be better if I planned to take more than one class next summer.

Thursday marked the end of my first summer session Theological reflection. I couldn’t wait for this day to get here at first but I learned to like the lay formation process. I thought it was something I’d have to put up with in order to get my degree, but I think I’m really going to like having a formation program while I work towards my degree.

I never thought I’d enjoy the process of lay formation as much as I have during this week.
-Sarah (@mssarahkp) June 13, 2014

Friday was more of an official wrap up. Class ended, I met friends for lunch or dinner most nights (a tradition I plan on continuing), I said good bye to friends I won’t see until next year.

There was a blessing dinner for those graduating this year. It was a great time, although I’m sad that I won’t be seeing some people next summer. I sat with people further along in the program than I am during dinner. I was able to get all kinds of advice from everyone throughout the week. I’m glad I put myself out there to try to make this experience more enjoyable, not to mention manageable.

After dinner most of us got together in the lounge to socialize. I learned pretty quickly that this is a distance student tradition. It’s a good one if you ask me.

I took part in the day retreat on Saturday before packing up and heading to the hotel for touristy things. It was a nice opportunity to spend more time with my newest group of friends, and meet a few more.

I’m already counting down the days until next summer (although I think I’ll be making other meal arrangements). I keep telling people the week was “like summer camp for adults, with homework,” it’s really not but it’s the best description I could come up with on the spot.

When my advisor asked me how the week was I said, “This is the best experience I’ve had in school.” It took me a few seconds to realize I was the one who said it.

It didn’t take me very long to notice that most of the distance students measure their time by summers, for whatever reason. For this reason it’s not uncommon to ask or be asked, “How many summers have you been here?” Thus this was my first summer instead of 2nd semester.

*A similar version of this post was written on September 1, 2014

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4 thoughts on “Grad School: The First Summer

  1. Pingback: The Catholic Thing | Most Usually Unusual

  2. Pingback: Grad School: The Second Summer | Most Usually Unusual

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  4. Pingback: Grad School: The Last Summer | Most Usually Unusual

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