My farewell address blog from last semester ended with looking forward to the arrival of “Act 2”, the second semester. As I write these words, today is officially the last day of classes. I still have final exams and a paper to write, but by the time you read this I will have completed my first year of graduate school. As everything comes to a close, it seems fitting to recount my academic steps.
I will admit I feel mentally weary. This semester brought more credit hours and with it more work, yet it somehow felt different from the last. More reading. More studying. More effort. It seems that first semester was a mild ease into graduate school, while this one was more of a jumping in with full force.
Before my classes had even began, I remember thinking about them and sizing them up in my mind. Which class would be my favorite? What would I need to spend more time in? Things of that nature. Science Editing, as I have written about previously, was my favorite class. Though, among my other courses there was an unforeseen underdog: Survey of Management. It is not that I wasn’t interested in the subject, but I will say that I was more ambivalent about it. However, by the last day of class I realized how much I came to appreciate what I had learned.
Amidst the stream of assignments and exams, the gym became a solace. A place where for a time I did not have homework due. A place where I was not thinking about how I would troubleshoot my code or what I needed to accomplish for that day. It was just me doing one thing. A one-track mind is how I like to think of it. And sometimes, we need that. Where distractions of life can be paused or at least dimmed to background noise.
For some reason it did not feel like the semester was actually ending, but then class by class I would hear the same sentiment from my professors. I could hear it in their voices something akin to nostalgia. They were sentimental about the students, the course, and all that we had learned. Particularly in my Science Editing class I had almost flashbacks, that certainly felt real, to the first day. Do you know that feeling when you are waking up from a dream but are still disoriented enough to confuse the dream and reality? It felt like that. I was transported back to the first day and how I felt at that time and then it immediately clashed with the last day. And that, for some reason, made it so much more bittersweet. Classes are like putting down shallow roots and perhaps just when it feels right, pulling them out. While we can spend years in education, it sometimes feels like a transitory state. A constant ebb and flow of loss and gain.
As I look to the summer, an intermission arrives. A hiatus for academia. I am excited for the higher elevation and the lower humidity the southwest will offer me once again. I imagine that when I return in August I will have much to share with you. Until then, I give you both my gratitude for reading and my regards until the next blog flows from my computer screen to yours.
Kalifa Stringfield is a Masters student in the College of Engineering