Class had come to an end, yet my head felt numb as I tried to shake off the formulas and equations that continued to bounce around inside of my brain. It’s not easy to sit in statistics class for three hours straight, but can be even harder to clear your mind afterwards. As I gathered my things and left the classroom, I couldn’t help but feel relieved at the fact that I had made it halfway through another week. I then began my journey across campus towards the bus stop. I picked up my walking speed in hopes that the bus for my desired route had already arrived. After my classes on main campus, I catch a ride on the Bush School bus route which circles through west campus where I am permitted to park my vehicle. When I got to the bus stop, I realized that my wish of catching a freshly arrived bus would remain unanswered as no bus was in sight. So, I would have to wait at the Memorial Student Center stop in front of Bizzell Hall until my bus arrived.
Although I would consider Texas A&M to be largely a commuter campus, the transit (bus) system is an integral part to the successful transportation of students around the university and the surrounding community. At the small university where I received my undergraduate degree, I could easily walk anywhere I needed to be on campus in a matter of minutes. This is not the case at Texas A&M where the campus is widely spread apart and students are usually not permitted to park their vehicles near their classes. As a new graduate student unfamiliar with the bus system, I found that downloading the Texas A&M application on to my smart phone was the most useful way to navigate bus routes.
Back at the bus stop, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and opened the Texas A&M app, I selected the bus route tab at the top left of the home menu which then opens up a page that list of all of the bus routes on and off campus. I scrolled down to the on campus listings and tapped the “05 Bush School” route. I then saw a map of campus that has the Bush School route highlighted on it. The map also displays tiny bus symbols which indicate bus’s location in real time as they travel on their route. I notice that the nearest Bush School route bus had yet to cross Wellborn Road so I would still have awhile to wait. So, I stepped back from the street curb and sat down on the steps that lead up to Bizzell Hall.
I placed my backpack close to my feet on the ground and took a deep breath as I took in the sights and sounds of campus around me. It was almost eight o’clock in the evening and the sun had long ago set. The lights of campus glowed all around me while busy undergrads buzzed with laughter as they travelled back to their dorms after enjoying dinner in the dining hall. I had repeated this routine of waiting for the bus to arrive many times throughout the semester and although I was initially frustrated by the inconvenience of having to wait on its arrival, I soon started to enjoy the peace and relaxation I felt while waiting for the bus.
Graduate students like myself can feel like we have so much on our plates that we avoid taking time to relax and observe the world around us. We often feel like we need to be in control of everything and view free time as time that could have been used for studying or on research. Personally, I try very hard to uphold a strict schedule so that I can spend adequate time on both my studies and with my loved ones. Yet, I rarely budget time to simply think to myself and relax. I have learned that alone time is necessary in order to maintain a balance with myself and the rest of my commitments. So there I sat, waiting on the bus and admiring the beauty of campus around me when I began to drift off into my thoughts.
I began thinking about how I was struggling with statistics and how I had a lot of studying to do in order to prepare for my upcoming test. My stomach was also starting to grumble and I thought about how badly I needed to go to the grocery store and restock my refrigerator. I was also excited about the conclusion of the fall semester and felt ready to spend time with my fiancé and family. As I began digging deeper into my weekly to-do list and feelings of excitement for the upcoming holidays, the ear rattling noise of my bus’s air brakes caught my attention. Half alarmed, I scampered up with my backpack in tow and headed to the bus door as the driver quickly folded it open.
I was greeted by an enthusiastic “Howdy!” from the driver as I nodded to her in a thankful manner. I sat towards the front of the bus as we waited for a few more students to board. When the last student had taken their seat, the driver closed the door and accelerated the bus forward through the darkness. Before graduate school, the last bus I had ridden was for a field trip my senior year in high school. Back then I hated even short bus trips, but now I felt peace in contemplating my life while I waited for and rode the bus. As the large vehicle maneuvered around the tight streets of campus, its gentle sway had a relaxing effect on me. Again, I drifted back into my thoughts as the bus continued on through the night.
As a graduate student, I have struggled to remain in control over all aspects of my life and my studies. However, just like I can’t exactly predict when the bus will arrive, I’ve come to understand that there are somethings I just can’t control no matter how hard I try. Patience will be required in graduate school as I inch forward on my ride towards graduation. These thoughts continued to spin around in my mind just like the wheels on the bus.
My ears perked up again as I heard the automated robotic voice of the bus’s loud speaker announce “Approaching Reed Arena.” I recognized my journey had come to an end and I slid my hand up from my seat in order to pull the cord that would send a signal to the driver requesting she let me off at the next stop. As the bus screeched to a halt in front of the parking lot my truck was parked in, I swung my backpack over one shoulder and stepped off the bus. My weekly rest period was over and I was back in control over my time. The bus no longer dictated my schedule or my arrival to my next destination. Yet, I felt refreshed from the ride and had a renewed energy for taking on the challenges that would continue to come my way that week. From inside my truck, I watched as the bus sped away. I started the engine and imagined that I was on the bus just a little bit longer. Then I thought to myself, “Who would have thought that such peace could be found in waiting for a ride?”
Taking time to gather your thoughts and clear your mind is essential in graduate school. No matter if you find your peace at home, in a good book, or on the bus, it’s just important that you find it. Hard work deserves a break every now and then and sometimes a short bus ride across campus allows just enough free time to relax and find some peace.
Matthew Pfeifer | Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications
Howdy! My name is Matt Pfeifer
and I am pursuing a Master of Science in agricultural leadership, education, and communications; I hope that by furthering my understanding of leadership and workforce training I can improve the lives of people in rural America.