This break I’ve taken the opportunity to finally get my apartment organized. Really organized, not the quick, sort of but really organized thing I usually do. I have plenty of reasons for doing this, but namely, I’m tired of not being able to find things or even better, not finding things, purchasing them, and then discovering that the item was buried underneath other items. Also, because of not having an office at school and my late night writing tendencies, I generally work from home, so I prefer having some physical organization amidst the mental chaos of doing schoolwork. Although I am not the kind of person who does these huge cleaning projects frequently, I do find it somewhat relaxing to get rid of things, organize better, etc.

One would think with the amount of moving that I have done in the past 8 or so years that I would’ve really cleared out all the excessive, but I have not. Well, each move has involved getting rid of items, but there were still plenty of things that were just here without any purpose. I had gotten into the habit of archiving old schoolwork, thinking “What if I need to remember these things?” Occasionally, they have been very handy but now that I’m on a different career path, I’m questioning whether I need a lot of what I have. I did some major discarding as a result.

I feel like it’s much more pleasant to work in my space now that there isn’t so much clutter. The massive cleaning/organization project isn’t complete; I’m in the midst of hunting for nice but affordable drawer organizing accessories. But even with what I’ve done so far, working at home has gone better than before.

I began this week with extremely sore muscles from Bharatanatyam on Sunday. Basically, we did some floorwork-esque dancing. My quads- well, I could feel my muscles working every step of the way; straightening my leg was difficult. Today is the first day my quads feel normal. That made everything take at least twice as long. I also attended dance class Tuesday and found out that was tougher than I had anticipated because of my quads. However, I don’t believe that attending class exacerbated or prolonged my achy quads.

The second big time consumer this week was that someone tried breaking into my apartment. Nothing was stolen and no one was injured, thank goodness (my SO caught the guy trying to come into the window), but it is still nerve-wracking. The police were called, they came out to investigate, etc. Although I am thankful that the local police were very concerned and did a fine job, it did take time. My landlord is supposed to stop by this weekend to ensure secure windows. This set back my week, because I had work that I needed to cram in today and tomorrow.

Hopefully, due to the holiday, next week will go back to normal.

When looking at a syllabus today, I realized how fast the semester is coming to a close. Of course, there is still plenty of work to be done, but my classes are only meeting about 5-6 more times.

Reinforcing the idea that this semester is almost over is that I registered for classes for the next. Unlike this semester, I will be at school Monday through Thursday; I decided to take all required courses, and that’s how it worked out. Unfortunately, there were no electives that worked into my schedules. I’m a little hesitant to take all required courses, but I’ll only have 2 or so more required courses for the next year. The only other negative is that I cannot attend Najmat’s class for the next semester. Not only is it good for my dancing, but it is also good for the social side of things. A few of the students and I are fairly good friends, and it’s nice to have that consistent group there; I suspect next semester I won’t have classes with the same people I did this semester. On the plus side of things, I think it’s a good opportunity to try some new teachers. As amazing as Najmat is and as much as I intend on returning to her classes after spring semester, I also know it’s good to try new teachers and be taken out of your comfort zone. Also, an acquaintance may join me for some private lessons, which would be fun.

So now off to tackle the pile of schoolwork and not get too sad about the dreary weather.

I’ve completed 1 week of school. One week isn’t really that much, in terms of going to class. I go to class twice a week. Two 3-hour lectures one day, one 3-hour lecture another day. I was supposed to have a 4th class, but it was unfortunately canceled. The professor is very kind and said that I could do an independent study with him. I haven’t made a decision, because I haven’t read the papers I was sent home with and solidified a project. The topic is science and religion, by the way. I’ve mentioned these topics coming up in the past when I taught, and I’d like to know more about it.

In terms of schoolwork, I don’t feel overwhelmed, even when looking at the workload and punching it into my calendar. I have a lot on my plate in general, but it isn’t like school is overwhelming by itself. It’s more like having a bunch of small meals all together, which then becomes overwhelming as a result of so much together. The only thing that genuinely seems overwhelming is fighting this cold and allergies now; the cold is a result of rapid weather change, the allergies are (I think) from someone wearing perfume.

Even with the holiday Monday, I feel ever so slightly behind on life. Photos and adjustments to my costume haven’t happened yet, because school, MassRaqs, and Bharatanatyam are taking up time.

Yesterday, I had 6 hours back to back of lecture, which was a bit hard to sit through. Not impossible, but I was definitely feeling antsy. I’m glad that I brought a snack along, because I was starving after the first class.

The schoolwork, thus far, doesn’t seem bad. A fair amount of reading, but besides one class where we have a presentation every week for awhile, nothing too crazy. One of the things I’m struggling with in school isn’t the work but knowing how to gauge things. A physics or math class is fairly predictable, and I’ve done it numerous times. I have a firm grasp on the time and effort it takes me to do physics, plus there is typically a definitive end point. With humanities, not only have I not taken a humanities class in about 5 years, but also I don’t know how much time a grad humanities should take me. Physics grad school was kind of similar to physics undergrad for me, only more difficult material and in-class exams.

MassRaqs is slowly culminating. I work on the program, so it’s sort of rush rush time to get things in and then for me to make it happen.

As for Bharatanatyam, I’ve been going to practice twice a week, as well as trying to practice on my own. I think it is coming along, although we have not had a consistent group of dancers to rehearse. The choreography has place changes and parts where only certain people dance, so the vision is a little lost when only a handful of people are there.

The other big project, my new website, unfortunately has been put to the side. I’m hoping to have completed it by the end of this month, though. Like most things in life, making my website has taken a little more work than I had anticipated. Things have changed a lot from when I made websites, and making a site with a CMS wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be.

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.

I had only one incidence of cheating this semester, thank goodness. However, I’m still interested in the subject. Without trying to be a goody-goody, I don’t think I’ve ever cheated on anything in my life.

I read this article today discussing cheating. The author is absolutely correct that there isn’t much of a policy at many schools; it’s frustrating to be a lone fighter in anything. You end up being the bad guy, regardless of whether you did the right thing.

Although I agree cheating really shows through on the exams, I don’t agree with taking a casual attitude towards it. I know personally that homework can save your grade and that some people understand things but don’t do well on the exam. And then, what about classes without exams, such as English classes? I’m not for an immediate failure for small infractions (I’ve been told that foreign students often don’t understand what plagiarism is), but I think something should be done.

In many ways, the policy where I teach makes the most sense. Your cheating activities are documented in an office so the dean knows where to go with the offenses. The policy is pretty cut and dry. Zero on the first offense, failing the class for the second, getting kicked out on the third, regardless of the year it happens. I think it’s great. Of course, it means that professors have to be pro-active (not sure how that can happen), but at least it exists and many of the professors here need to be pro-active towards catching cheaters.

I hope universities and colleges take cheating more seriously than they have, but I’m doubtful. Cheating isn’t anything new, it’s just getting easier.