Friday, September 03, 2010

Two views of grad school

Two recent posts talk about the graduate school experience.

Tanya Roth, a military historian, talks about non-academic activities that have kept her fit and sharp:

One of the accomplishments of the past two years that I’m most proud of – aside from my dissertation progress – is my gym routine. During the first two years of grad school, the idea of taking time to hit the gym was just stressful. I had no idea how to fit it in on top of the reading and the writing and the general survival of graduate school.

In year three, I got a little better, but it was really the end of year three – late spring 2008 – when I got myself into an actual routine. Now I hit the gym for 45 minutes to an hour every weekday morning before I start to work, and that’s a commitment that I like.
 I like variety, so I try to shake things up as I’m able....
 In October, I think I’ll finally give running a shot and check out Couch to 5K to see if I’m up for the challenge.
I’m proud of this routine because it’s not always easy to get myself to the gym. There are days when I’d rather be frittering around on email or something else, or even sleeping a little later. But in the end, I think the gym routine is one of the best “for-me” things I could have added to my schedule: not only am I keeping my body in better shape, but I’m also giving myself a stress outlet.

You know, it may actually be part of the reason why I’ve been able to get through this dissertation thing so far.
I would also like to point out that stress doesn't end with finishing grad school, and plenty of people are stressed out as undergrads.  The sedentary aspects of modern life are debilitating and even deadly; you've got to fight back.   And just because you've stayed fit for a good long time doesn't mean you can take five years off, sitting in front of screens.

Speaking of fighting back, if J.J. Cohen's remarks on George Washington University's English program are accurate, it's kind of too bad that Tanya isn't there.  She might be a star in this situation:

Last May in Kalamazoo I had a pleasant dinner with a large group of faculty and graduate students at restaurant called Food Dance. A great deal of wine may have been involved. At one point I told someone who had been accepted into GW's graduate program and who was about to relocate to DC that we have a tradition of locking each arriving student in a steel cage with a faculty member. Just as in Thunderdome, only one combatant emerges from the Cage of Scholarship conscious. I believe I described the cage fight as one of our more beloved GW English traditions, something that everyone eagerly looks forward to as a rite of passage.

Why I make this shit up I have no idea. I blame the great deal of wine.

Imagine my alarm to have found the pictured gift waiting on my desk this morning. The note card states, with quiet menace, "See you in the cage, Jeffrey." I know its sender practices krav maga. Tauntingly, the cotton hand wraps she gave me are labeled NOVICE. I wonder if she will settle for being taken out to lunch instead? Please?

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