Sitting in my drafty flat, watching the tree branches bend, and listening to the wind rattle the doors and windows in their frames, I dread the coming winter. It is officially “fall” in New Zealand, as of March 1st. Strange. I don’t see leaves changing color. Nor has the weather really changed…probably because it’s been a crap summer weather-wise. But, when I asked one of my flatmates if this was a taste of what winter will be like, she said, “some days, yes. Just colder.” Boo. Stupid weather. Because I’m on the coast, and between the islands, I get to live in a wind tunnel. A very hilly, wind tunnel. Normally, I would be ecstatic about this, except that cold wind blows…*badumkrst.*
This week has been interesting. I made gin and tonic cupcakes. They came out rather well. I am pretty well situated in the city, in terms of finding my way around, and figuring out campus things. I have my ID all sorted. I am a real student. I had yet another orientation, which brings my total to three. This last one started out fantastically, and ended terrifyingly. Talking to professors in the department and the head and seeing all the help I would be able to get if I needed it was awesome. Listening to overviews of the program and the courses offered got me excited about what I’d be learning and going to class. Assignments, never the most glorious part, didn’t seem that bad (provided I don’t actually have to participate in group projects). I know who to talk to if I want help with assignments, where to go if I want my papers edited.
I was jazzed. I couldn’t wait to start classes on Monday. They even fed us, and it was delicious. I don’t have any idea what most of the food combinations were, but they tasted good, so I thought it best not to ask silly things like, “exactly what type of meat is this, and why is it combined with some kind of jelly?” Then, it was afternoon tea, with one panel remaining where we could talk to previous students and almost done students about the program, what they’re doing now, their experiences and the like. I grabbed some tea, a bar of some kind, and sat down. I was ready. The panel filed in, gave their names and started talking. And one after another of them shared their horror stories: “The program is so much work.” “You’re going to be broken down. You will cry.” “Don’t do anything but study, even if it puts you in debt.” “Make sure you take time for yourself, but not too much time, you’ll have so much to do.” “You will not be able to finish the program in a year.” “It’s a 50 hour a week work load, and that’s not including going to lectures or when an assignment is due.”
All the panic I that was dispelled from the previous program came flooding back. What was I going to do?! How was I going to cope?! All the uncertainty I felt first getting here, that I had worked through sidled up to me, threw an arm around my shoulders that filled me with cold dread, and said, “See? I told you I’d be back. Ha! And you thought it was going to be easy. You thought you could handle school? After not studying for a year and a half? You’re funny, Molly. This going to be fun.”
I left the program after that down turn and went home. What do I do when I am in stress mode? I bake. So croissants it was. I had started the dough a few days ago, and I needed to shape it out one last time. But it got all sticky, the butter oozed out when it wasn’t supposed to, it got all over everything. I baked them Saturday and they came out like croissant shaped scones, croisscones, as Marie called them. They taste ok though; best with lots of jelly.
Baking (and hashing some things out verbally with flatmates and various loved ones) definitely made it a bit easier. Just gotta put one foot in front of the other and plod along. It will all work out. I did all the modules for my classes to prepare (and because classes required you to do the work before you even get an introduction into the course.) It enabled me to get back into the swing of reading, writing, and thinking about what I was doing with my life. I felt myself falling back into the shoes of a student. And while I didn’t exactly understand everything I was reading (academics can be incredibly dense) I got the gist.
Then I took a break from required reading and made dinner for the flat. We had a ‘family’ meeting and I suggested that as a way to connect after the week, we can all sit down on Sunday and have a ‘family’ dinner. Studies suggest that families that sit down together for meals communicate better with one another and blah blah blah. So, it was decided. I volunteered to go first and I made apple, fennel and orange tarts for an appetizer. Then I went on to making shrimp, pea and parmesan risotto. I even supplied some wine! It was great. Then chocolate cake for dessert. We all went to bed full and happy and ready for classes to start.
A good meal helped, but I don’t think you can ever truly be prepared for the first really new day of anything. It was….overwhelming, but first days of anything are overwhelming. I took a Pilates class directly afterward which was a nice stress relief. Then I did homework in the library. It was nice and quiet. And I like having a space that isn’t my flat for doing work. When I’m at home, I just want to be able to relax. Added bonus: free Wi-Fi on campus. With no data caps!! (Which, if you are unfamiliar with data caps, let me enlighten you: they absolutely suck!)
Today, I woke up at 7, went to a 7:30 Yoga class where we did poses while watching the sunrise over the bay, and I was ready to field whatever the day could possibly throw at me. I ate a great breakfast and then hiked down to class. I had 2 more today; they went much smoother than my first day. Not so stressed out. I think it must have been the yoga. Ha ha!
I have my final class of the week tomorrow. Then it’s PGSA things, since I’ve joined the executive board. We’ll see how that goes. Wish me luck! You’ll get more updates later.
This is Molly the (future) librarian, signing off.