At the very beginning of last semester, I was scheduled to take a class that was canceled about 2 hours prior to class time. No one had told me that the class was canceled, there were no notices online, etc. I had assumed that I would be withdrawn from the class, because the school had canceled the class, due to low enrollment.

It turns out that they not only did not withdraw me from the class, but also because I ended registering for another class, they billed me for being over the standard number of credits. The bill is not trivial, about $2500.

Hopefully, this matter is taken care of in a straight-forward way; luckily, the professor who is in charge of my independent study was supposed to teach the canceled class, and well- it is the school’s fault. I have already sent a polite email to my college, explaining the situation. Perhaps I should have checked a little more closely that I had been withdrawn from the class, but- well, it just made sense to me that I would’ve been automatically withdrawn and the class would disappear from the course catalog that semester, since people register for classes a week or two into the semester.

Lesson: It always pays to read your bills, sometimes literally.

Yesterday, I finished my last paper that was due for 2010; my independent study paper is due 15 January 2011. Yay! I wanted to post yesterday, but my hands were quite tired from typing and I wanted to enjoy the world again. I went to the ICA in Boston and had dinner in Chinatown with my SO, who has been rather neglected this past week.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a finals period that was strictly paper writing. I learned some valuable lessons, namely that paper writing is physically exhausting. The veins in my hands were gigantic on Sunday, because I had been pumping my veins from typing. I was glad to go to the recital at Melina’s, because I think my hands needed the rest. The good thing is that I don’t feel exhausted. I remember many finals periods ending with me sleeping and being a bum for the next day. I am definitely a bit tired, but it isn’t as bad as the other finals periods.

The past week had been quite busy in general. In addition to final papers and the work that they entailed, I attended Meiver’s “Exploring the Arab Style Oriental Routine, Part 1” and performed in Melina’s recital with my class. I’m still catching up on emails, paying bills, all that stuff, but I hope to review those two events in the near future. I also have a DVD to review.

Speaking of reviews to write, I found a use for my SO’s name generator, Essa while writing my paper for my qualitative class. I decided to use pseudonyms for everyone (sample size was 5), and I didn’t want to bias my name choices. For instance, if I gave names that have a positive association to some people I like and names that have a negative association to people I don’t like or who came off poorly in the research. I used Essa to generate names for that, because I figured the program wouldn’t have a bias compared to me. Because I like names, despite not actually liking my first name (or last name), having to pick out names would’ve taken longer. I just selected Greek names (because a lot of names are Greek) and took the first 6 creations; I also chose not to use names that were too similar. In short, I recommend using a name generator like Essa to create plausible names for your research pseudonyms.

Classes have been finished for me for a little bit, but I haven’t had much time to blog about it. I had a final last Wednesday that was technically in class, but we had received the question earlier and could write outside of class. Because my handwriting isn’t so nice and I didn’t want to deal with writing in class and having the time constraint over my head, I wrote the entire thing outside of class and showed up for the last little bit of lecture and to hand in the essay.

The past few days (essentially, when entries ceased to exist) have been full of dance (to be written about later) and schoolwork. Schoolwork = paper writing = lots of time in front of the computer. Yesterday, the veins in my hands were especially plump from all the typing. I’ve been trying to give my hands and eyes breaks from typing and staring a screen, so blogging will be a minimum. I have two papers down and one more due this week; the fourth isn’t due until January 15th, so I’ll take a little break in between and hopefully have some time to work on my personal projects. For now, though, it’s paper writing time!

Last year, I made a list of what I thought would be good gifts for the adjunct, Middle Eastern dancer, or grad student in your life. Although last year’s list is still full of good ideas in my biased opinion, this year’s list reflects where I am and what I’m looking for. What can I say, I was inspired by Oprah’s Favorite Things (one of my holiday guilty pleasures).

For the grad student

  • Coffee gift certificates/maker/coffee itself. I’ve begun drinking coffee again, and I attribute it to being back in school.
  • Printer ink and paper. I’ve used one cartridge of ink this semester, and I’ve been fairly conservative with printing. Printer ink is expensive, and I’d be elated to have that as a gift. My paper supply is being depleted, as well.
  • Massage. I’ve been pretty good about taking care of myself, but I know some people experience all sorts of back issues and other aches from poor computer posture.
  • Restaurant certificates. I’ve eaten out a bit more than I care to admit. I get back from class rather late, and sometimes, I’m just too tired to cook. Food is always welcome in my house.

For the Middle Eastern dancer

  • Props. About a week or two ago, I splurged on some beautiful Isis wings from Ayshe. While I believe that they are worth every dollar I spent (and unfortunately, I kind of want another pair), they were about $200. I’ve also been shopping around for a shamadan and a tray (not sure how much it’ll be). Other props dancers often love are veils (particularly silk) and zills. Even if you cannot afford the full cost, you could make a clever gift certificate good for x amount of dollars towards the item.
  • Costumes. As of this year, I’ve gotten into very light costume buying. Again, costumes are expensive, even if they are worth it. If you are unsure of what to buy someone or the size, you can again make your own gift certificate, though some vendors may offer gift certificates.
  • Jewelry. Along with costumes comes jewelry. It’s the icing on the cake, per se. I like my jewelry very sparkly and big.
  • Traincase for makeup. Another item I’m hunting for. Toting one’s makeup in a cosmetic bag isn’t cutting it for me any more; everything becomes jumbled up and harder to find. Caboodles, Sephora, and Yazmo all sell recommended traincases.
  • Suitcase and other prop cases. The suitcase is something I discovered works well to transport multiple costumes and accessories. Mine is ugly and not in great condition. With the Isis Wings, I now realized I need a good way to transport them places. I think a garment bag will work well, but on Friday, I saw how a dancer creatively made her own case out of cardboard boxes and duct tape.
  • Ranya Renee’s Taqasim DVD and misc. DVDs from Cheeky Girls Productions. Both have produced brilliant DVDs in the past full of good information, clear video, etc. Everything you could want in a good instructional dance DVD. Ranya Renee’s latest is very unique and is definitely on my list of things to buy. From Cheeky Girls Productions, there are many to pick from. I currently have a copy of the Icing on the Drum Solo to review, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen. On my list is Turn it Up! and Totally Turkish.

I recently decided to do a better job cooking for one person (myself). I’m mediocre at it. Cooking for one is difficult, because ingredients come in large quantities. I eat leftovers, but there have been times where I eat the same meal 4-5 times in one week. A delicious meal isn’t as good if you’re eating it that often. I also don’t want to be wasteful with ingredients. Firstly, I don’t like throwing out food or dealing with rotting, molding food. Secondly, I don’t want to waste money. Being a grad student who is only supported by a stipend and scholarship money means I have to be careful with how my money is spent. I don’t have to eat Ramen every night, but I also cannot buy exotic fancy foods or waste non-exotic, non-fancy foods. Grad school also means not a lot of time to shop, prep, cook, etc. The other qualifier is that I’m vegetarian, so I think may impact cheap and quickly made food, but I’m not sure.

My Google searches have came up with a few blogs that I will read soon; there is backlog in my life. However, I figured I’d ask here if anyone has any good blog suggestions on this topic or has tasty recipes to offer.

A huge difference between my education grad experience, thus far, and my experience in physics grad school is that I’m mostly by myself, without a pack. I have become accustomed to having the same group of classmates in my classes. Particularly in undergrad, where I was pretty close many people, it was nice to have that community. Sure, people annoyed me (and I’m sure I annoyed them) at times, but we all got along. Considering how lonely college can be, I like having a group of people I genuinely respected and enjoyed.

Grad school in physics wasn’t quite like that, but I still had a posse. Education school? Every class I have is filled with different students. The nature of the classes, as well, don’t foster making tight friends. We have a little group work, but compared to pounding out problem sets weekly, we spent basically no time working together. I’m not sure how much it’ll change with research. I’ve heard universally dissertations are a long, lonely process, but about half the work I did for my masters was in a lab, with others. While I have not fully formed my dissertation topic/research, I am convinced that it’ll be kind of lonely.

Although I was hesitant about staying and committing myself to being in Boston for about 3-4 years, one of the nice things is that I established myself. School/research may not be the most social time for me, but I have other things and other people in my life, so I cannot complain too much.

As of Thursday, I have begun what should be my final degree: my doctorate.

The last week has been a crazy rush of stuff. My thesis work from my masters was riddled with issues from the school and department, making my completion long and laborious beyond what it should have been. I honestly felt like it wasn’t going to be finished, which is why I haven’t been writing much about starting grad school again. This also put me behind with gathering school supplies, ordering books, etc. I’m still getting over that experience, and I’ll write more when I feel like I have a better grip of what happened and really made peace. The whole situation is a lot to digest in such a short period of time; I literally had my degree conferred on Thursday morning, which was right before I began class that evening.

Starting at my new school is different. Not only am I starting at an entirely new school, but also this is the first time in the last 10 years of my schooling (with some breaks) that I haven’t taken a physics class. Very strange feeling. My departure from physics feels sad and odd, but I hope that my arrival in education will outweigh the nostalgia factor. I also realized that I’m taking humanities classes for the first time since 2005; my senior year of college was filled with either theatre/dance classes or physics classes.

The change has me curious and a bit anxious about the workload. With physics, it was pretty bread and butter what would happen. Weekly problem sets, some exams, and a final. Occasionally, quizzes or project would be tossed in, but the material and amount of time needed to complete the work was easy to anticipate. With my classes- I’m not sure. I never found my humanities classes (sorry if this comes out as elitist) as strenuous as my physics classes and did well. However, I’m not sure how different the humanities are at the grad level. I’m not teaching this semester, so at least I’ll have time to devote to my schoolwork.