Updates from “the real world”

Ciao tutti!

I’ve been absolutely horrible at keeping this blog up, for multiple reasons:

  1. I am now living in a new town with a new apartment with new kitchen utensils.
  2. I finally caved and got an iPhone. Now I get why all you Apple people love them so much.
  3. Grad school takes up the majority of any free time I thought I would have coming into this summer.

While I’ve already gone on an amazing adventure in Colorado with my friends Jess and Alea from my semester in Italy, those days of no commitments or responsibilities are long gone. Now my days consist of getting up at 7 am, going to class for 3-7 hours, coming home, vegging out on Netflix or cleaning or cooking, and then doing homework until I pass out at 11. Not a very exciting life, but it’s a practical one.

*No worries, I’m not going to just blow off that Colorado trip, because it was indeed amazing. But I’m going to save that for another post since it really deserves (and requires) one for itself.

While I’ve had my issues with two of the three classes I’m taking, in general, grad school is a lot simpler than undergrad. There are less things to worry about, like extra-curriculars, subjects that are difficult to wrap my mind around, or annoyances that arise from living on a college campus. But, as Tom could tell you, I do tend to rant about my classes. First of all, they’re way too easy and don’t challenge me at all. I don’t even need to try to get good enough grades, and the content is so common-sense that I question why I’m even in (or how this is even) a Master’s program. Second of all, the discussions are always about topics so obvious that I find it hard to contribute. Well obviously students are motivated by their passions and interests. Why do we need to discuss that for 2 hours?

However, I don’t want to give this program too bad of a rap. All the people in the program are so energetic and excited to be there, and passionate about education that they’re enjoyable to be around. I’ve found some connections with people from Richmond, people in relationships, and people who are really interested in education in an international context. Although I don’t really find my basic foundations of education classes all that relevant, the classes I’m taking for my ESL Dual Endorsement are really engaging. My classmates and I have been able to bond in a special way, since our class is three days a week for seven hours a day. We’ve explored the town together, talked about real life, and are planning weekend trips to take out of town.

This class has addressed learning in a totally different way from my foundations classes. Although it’s specifically focused on learning and teaching a language, it can be applied to everything. We’ve talked about cognitive (thinking) styles, learning styles, and learning strategies, and taken personality tests. As a language major, it was so fascinating to see just how language lessons are structured to encourage all types of learners.

I’ve even learned about myself. I’m much more of a tactile learner than I thought I was, and I’m a field-dependent learner, meaning I need to see the practical applications of concepts to really get engaged. Which maybe explains why I think my other classes are such a drag.

However, we’ve been assigned field placements to observe ESL summer school, and mine starts in July. I’m so excited to be there and using what I’ve learned in my classes to help students better understand and use English.

Now that I’m in week three, and I’ve finally settled into a groove, I have this urge to get involved in the community in some way. Last night, for example, I randomly researched if there were opportunities to volunteer at the local library (which I found were mostly positions for high school students… bummer).  Now that I’m not volunteering in Sunday School every week, or being around kids, something just feels off. I miss it more than I thought I would.

In short, I’m building awesome friendships with people, but my energy is spent from these exhaustingly long, 90 degree days and less-than-exciting classes. I wish there were only one more month of summer, so I could spend time with people but we could also be getting into the real stuff in our classes. I just need to be helping people, either in a classroom or halfway across the world.

Abby

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