Friday, September 9, 2016

Insanity - Only Two Weeks In

My books this semester, for two classes.
Not bad you say? This doesn't include the 20+ books 
and articles I need to read for writing my seminar papers.

As the title of this post suggests, I am either insane or will be so shortly. And, as promised, I am documenting every insane second through journals and this blog. Two weeks into this PhD thing and I have quit at least once every day, sometimes more, but decided I can do this by the end of each day. Since I'm still in it, I guess we can say the "I can do this" side is currently winning.

I decided already to literally take each piece of my classes one step at a time. Even if told to make sure I'm looking ahead to another step, I think I have to focus on and finish off things according to due dates. If I can get to class each week knowing that what I need done is done and done to the best of my ability, well, at this point I can't ask for much more.

First week of classes overwhelmed me with a tidal wave of details. The assignments aren't a single step, but there are so many details and steps for each activity and assignment, I took an entire day to work on an eleven question library research project and I only had one question answered at the end of six hours. The rest of the questions required finding and reading articles and book chapters from various journals and online periodicals. Granted, learning the system hindered me a bit, but by the end of the day, I hadn't even collected all of the materials needed to begin reading to answer the other ten questions.

The reading for just one of my current classes has hit between 200 - 300 pages a week. The reading proves helpful and informative so far, but definitely not the same as reading a good book just for the story. The other class assigns smaller selections, but on material I have little background knowledge of, so I go searching and reading additional resources.

I enjoy the classroom experience itself, as always. If I had applied for a PhD in Education, I could complete everything online, but I noticed of all my options for an English PhD, none were offered online and for good reason. Good literature thrives on intricate discussion. Intricate discussion works best in person. Driving an hour up and an hour back from main campus twice a week hasn't been too bad, although I'm not looking forward to it come snowy weather, but the drive gives me time to transition from my school-as-teacher day to my school-as-student day and the same as I head home at night.

Probably the biggest challenge I've learned the past two weeks is time management. I thrive on organizing and prioritizing and I'm a do it all person - well, do it all according to what I think is important. I've never really had to scale back on my calendar. I've fit in people, responsibilities, hobbies, etc. any time I wanted. This is absolutely not the case now. Teaching takes at least 40 hours a week, more if current activities require working at home. In the past week I've spent every hour between working on one of my two PhD classes - no exaggeration. And in order to function fully from morning to night in all this work, I moved my bedtime back by an hour and a half (which doesn't always happen). I've been forced to draw boundaries around my job and classwork times, making them a shared first priority with my family...and even family takes the back-burner at times. For someone who treasures her friends and hobbies, it's a difficult position to already say "maybe" and "no" to activities I'd gladly attend, but I'm determined to make it through this.

See, "I can do it" is winning today. We'll see where I stand after spending the entire day at the library tomorrow! Watch out reference librarians, here I come.


  1. Replies
    1. Rah, rah, you're one of my biggest cheerleaders Allison! Thank you for the pep talks!

  2. Woo, I second that! You've got this, Jennine :)

    1. Thanks!!! Loving all my cheerleaders!

  3. Thank you for your fabulous blog.
    Of course you can do it because you have made the choice to start and the commitment to finish.

    1. Thank you! I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with about three weeks left now!