Day in the Life of a Johns Hopkins Grad Student

6:30 – It is way too early to be awake in my opinion, but the sun is shining brightly and the bun is digging furiously into my pillow and hair. She believes that breakfast is late because the sun is bright and high, but I feel the need to disagree. She calms down for snuggles for a little bit, and we check emails and read the news together.

7:10 – Time to get out of bed. I give Bun her breakfast cereal and refill her water bowl before getting ready and heading to the gym. It’s an hour of weights, thirty minutes of Couch to 5K, and ten minutes of abs today. I am feeling pretty good about my workout, but my Bose wireless earphones are not the best at staying in my ears while running. I am grumpy, but I’ll bring a second set tomorrow for the running. Workouts keep me grounded during school, and I use the time to mull over readings and papers.

10:00 – Home, showered, and now it’s time to let my hair dry and drink a protein shake (almond milk + water + Vega protein powder + frozen fruit) while I check emails again. Then, I catch up on some blogs and a couple of Youtube videos before getting ready for the day. I like to let my hair air-dry as much as possible, but during the school week I frequently can’t wait. I prep my snacks and tea for the day, pack my bag, and spend a few more minutes cuddling with the bunbutt before she settles down for a nap and I head to campus.

13:00~16:00 – I have a short day of classes today. Fascinating and thought-provoking and all-in-all a great afternoon. I like all of my classmates, and some of us were together in the summer. It’s nice to be together again.

16:15~18:45 – Library time! I do some readings and outline a paper while eating my snack. I brought cucumber and carrot wedges with hummus, peach and pear slices, and raw walnuts. Carrying the ziploc containers gets a little obnoxious, but at least they can be nested after I’ve eaten. I just dislike feeling like a pack mule.

18:50 – I head to another building to hear April Ryan’s talk. I normally would stay in the library longer, but I am trying to attend as many lectures as possible. I attend 2~4 per week and make up the study time at home or over the weekend.

18:55 – I met April Ryan! I purchase her new book and grab a tea sandwich before finding where the other graduate students are sitting.

20:30 – I enjoyed hearing everything she had to share about working in the White House and what she’s seen over the years during the four presidencies she has covered. Some of the freshmen could have been a bit more concise with their phrasing so everyone who desired could ask a question, but I shrug off this feeling by remembering that they are young and enthusiastic. My fellow graduate students do not share this feeling and grumble up and down our row.

21:00 – I apologize to Bun for being late with her dinner and promise to feed her on time tomorrow. She eats while I check emails and finish some readings. After she is done eating, she crawls onto my back and takes a nap there. I disturb her slumber when I realize that I am still hungry. I make a Vega nutritional shake with almond milk and eat some chickpea chicken salad I had in the fridge.

22:30 – Oof. Time to get cleaned up and ready for bed. TRX day in the gym tomorrow, and I need my rest.

Public Speaking is Rude

Yesterday, I had to present a research proposal. It had been a hot minute (or several) since I gave a presentation, and even more since I gave one in English. As interested as I was in the topic, as I was happy to pitch the idea, well…

It did not. Go. Well.

Public speaking is a skill which I used to have, but it seems that I have become quite rusty. I couldn’t hide that painfully obvious intonation and speed of anxiety. My heart started pounding faster than Bun’s when she is getting her nails trimmed.  As soon as the presentation had finished, I was ready to melt into the floor and disappear on the spot. Teaching in a classroom, while a kind of public speaking, is a different kind of skill. My abilities and comfort levels definitely have shifted to reflect that difference.

Now, this was an important learning experience. I fully recognize that. PhD applications will be opened/released in a few weeks, and then it will be crunch time to get everything ready. Interviews are a part of the process, but interviews don’t begin until January. So, I expect to have approximately six months to re-develop this ability. Speaking well in front of a committee is a skill which I will need, and I am fortunate that I discovered this weakness now instead of later. (I am painfully aware about the grade which I might receive, but still. You know. Learning experiences.)

I had a conversation about this experience when I was working with my personal trainer. In an effort not to get a doughy, spent-too-many-hours-sitting grad student body, I work with a personal trainer once a week in addition to gymming it daily on my own. I should have some down time in August, so I might up my training sessions for the month, but I digress. We sometimes talk about non-fitness things during the sessions. It helps to keep my mind off the muscular misery, and I appreciate being able to bounce ideas off another person.

My personal trainer also dislikes giving presentations. It might not mean much to others, but I felt relief that I am not the only twenty-something struggling with this point. I feel confident that I will be able to re-learn this skill, but in the meantime I am considering joining Toastmasters or a similar organization.

Why can’t my brain just keep all the knowledge and information forever instead of letting some of it disappear into nothingness? How rude.