Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winter Break!

I've officially been on break for about two weeks now (aka, since my last paper was turned in) and so far it's been quite nice. The first week of break was busy with many holiday parties to go to with fellow grad school friends. This second week has been much slower with Christmas and all. Since your lovely blogger does not celebrate Christmas, that meant an evening of Chinese food and the new Sherlock Holmes movie (which I thought was really good!).

The semester brought me one A- and two As, giving me a GPA of 3.90 and a cumulative GPA of 3.74, which is a nice jump from my previous 3.67 GPA. Anything I can do to make myself more competitive for next year's applications is gravy!

Some more news. I was selected to present at the Texas A&M Graduate Conference in March! I will be presenting a paper I wrote as an undergraduate, which was about music and underground radio during Apartheid South Africa. It's a bit of a departure from what I actually study (Colonial America, to say the least), but it's a paper I was proud of and I figure it can't hurt to showcase whatever diverse interests I have. In two weeks I will be presenting at the Phi Alpha Theta Biennial Convention, in which I'll be discussing a paper on music and slave identity in the Antebellum South. This is much closer to what I actually focus on. Again, diversity!

As for next semester, it looks like I'll be TAing again as a replacement for my friend. Due to health issues, she can no longer TA so I am stepping up to fill her shoes. I love TAing, so I am looking forward to it. It will be for the same professor as I TAed for this semester and I know it will be a good Spring 2010 because we got on really well this fall and he said he'd have me TA again for him in a heartbeat. Good times!

The spring will also have me working on campus for about 20 hours a week, which will be great so I can save money for a trip I want to take after I graduate next December. Two research seminars, TAing, and part-time work will undoubtedly equal a great load of work that will be an immense challenge to undertake, but I will grit my teeth and plunge ahead because I can do it!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just a quick note...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that papers will not write themselves.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Been Too Long!

I haven't updated in quite a while, apparently. Here's my news!

Here is a list of what I have to do by December 10:

1. Finish my paper for Southern history - finished as of tonight!
2. Write my paper for Atlantic history: 15-20 pp.
3. Prepare a precis for Southern History for discussion and do 1-page summary.
4. Grade final exams.

Not too bad, but it will keep me busy. Luckily I've got a thesis ready to go for my Atlantic history class (hopefully) so all I have to do is pull quotes. Professor liked my thesis and told me to "run with it!"

Next semester will be busy, which is always good:

1. World History research seminar
2. Early America/Atlantic World research seminar
3. Directed Study (this may change - we'll see)
4. French II to make my transcripts look good
5. An English class on Shakespeare just because (we'll see about that one)

Next semester will be busy but exciting!

Other news:

1. My first conference is in January down in San Diego and I'm scheduled to present on January 7. My topic is slave identity through music.
2. I'm going to New York for a few days right after the conference! I am going to check out Columbia while I am there as a Ph.D. application prospect.

All in all, a successful semester! I have been heavily involved in our new Associate Grad Students of History as the secretary and have made great new friends because of it. I getting a lot out of my program and the professors continue to be awesome and supportive. Once again, I still have not felt too many effects of the budget cuts that my State School is suffering from, but today was a furlough day which meant that I got to take over and run a final exam review session. I love doing that sort of thing as a TA. It makes me feel like a teacher. I hope to TA again before I graduate, but since I only have two semesters left, we'll see.

By the way, I have been faced with a choice to make. I will graduate in December 2010 and since there's no ceremony mid-year, I have a choice to walk May of 2010 or May of 2011. All of my friends are walking this coming May, which makes me inclined to do that. At that point I will be done with all coursework, but I will still have a thesis to complete. What's the point of "graduating" before I am done? But then again, why would I want to sit through a ceremony 5 months after I finish?


Saturday, October 31, 2009

First Lecture Post

Earlier this week I gave my first ever lecture to the class I TA for: Early America and the Atlantic World. The day's topic was tobacco and the Chesapeake economy, which I specifically chose for few reasons:

1. I've always enjoyed the history of Jamestown.
2. It made me think of the movie, The New World (2005), which is one of my favorites.
3. To me, the Chesapeake has always been iconic when discussing the origins of the 13 colonies.

As I'm sure many TAs are, I was a bit over-ambitious with my lecture. I packed in TONS of information because I was afraid of ending too early. I discussed:

The Chesapeake settlement, both tobacco booms, tobacco production and population growth, origins of slavery, tobacco uses, and popular culture.*

Overall, my lecture went very well. I made an accompanying powerpoint presentation and one thing I did that the students liked was instead of showing a portrait of John Rolfe, I showed a picture of Christian Bale portraying John Rolfe from The New World. My line of logic: people tend to forget portraits, but they will always remember Christian Bale!


My professor shook my hand and said I did an excellent job and then he emailed me again later to tell me that I did very well and that he was proud of me. This always feels so good to hear. It's really the best source of validation.

I asked the students to give me an evaluation and the general consensus was that they liked my powerpoint and the discussion on popular culture, but I spoke too quickly and that made it hard to take notes. I expected that to be my criticism as I have a tendency to be a fast talker, especially when I get slightly nervous. But I know with practice I will get better at that.

All in all, very successful for a first lecture!

Daily Advice:
Don't overprepare, less is more, always remember discussion questions, and SLOW DOWN.

*The tobacco uses and popular culture bits were my own personal touch to the subject. The professor is an economic historian so I had to model his lectures. However, since I am a cultural historian, I wanted to make the lecture distinctly my own.

Monday, October 12, 2009

News/Illness coping/Review sessions

It's been longer than I thought since my last update. Oops! Sadly, I have just been busy.

So here's some grad school bragging for you: I'm going to be presenting at the Phi Alpha Theta Biennial conference this January down in San Diego. I'm not going to go into any real detail on what my paper topic is but to be vague, it's on antebellum slavery. I'm pretty excited as this will be my first conference. It will be great experience and networking...not to mention it will pad my C.V./Ph.D. applications nicely.

I have been sick the past week. Nothing major - it's just a cold. It's a pain getting sick at all during the semester because I prefer not to miss any school, especially since one of my classes requires a 3-page analysis for a missed class. That's not something I want to do when I'm sick. So I just bucked up and went to class on Wednesday night. I didn't participate as much as I usually do, but I performed well enough. To paraphrase Woody Allen, 80% of success is just showing up.

Thursday was a furlough day for the class I T.A. for. I offered up my services to run a study/review session since the midterm is tomorrow and considering some of the quizzes lately, the students kind of needed it. My throat was sore and my head ached something awful but I made a commitment, dammit! Overall, I think it went well enough. What's nice about a 400-level course is that I don't have to hold hands nearly as much as I did for the 100-level that I T.A.ed last semester. I outlined on the board while the students did most of the work. My role was merely to guide. When I run review sessions I make it very clear that my role is help, not to repeat lectures because that is simply a waste of time.

So in lieu of going into too much boring detail, here's a break down of how to run a good review session:

1. Show up on time.
2. Make it clear right away that you are not repeating lectures.
2a. Ask if anything from the lecture notes need to be cleared up or further explained. There is a difference.
3. Go over only the pertinent information since time is limited.
4. Admit if you can't answer something. That's what the professor's email is for.

Daily Advice:
Use Purell, drink Emergen-C. If you get sick anyways, take a cold pill, buck up, and shut up.*

*I stole that from the movie Zombieland. It's awesome. Go see it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Traveling + School

Sometimes in grad school, we decide it might be a good idea to take some time off, go out of town, and have a good time.* Then the weekend ends and the inevitable stress and denial come crashing down: you have two books to read and a critique to write.

Okay, not you, me.

Did I bring my books with me? Of course I did. Did I have every intention of getting a slough of homework done in the evenings over the weekend? You bet I did. Did that actually happen? Hell no.

Going out of town in grad school is like a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you get some much-needed time off and destressification. (I made up that word. Awesome, no?) On the other, there's a great possibly that you won't get anything done. Well, at least I didn't.

Lesson learned! I spent all last night skimming (or "gutting" as I heard a cohort say), all of today skimming, and writing a critique. For those of you who haven't heard the term "gutting," it basically means that you just read the first sentence of every paragraph and move on. This helps you fly through books while still g
etting the gist of the main idea. It's a last resort tactic and I do not condone it, but sometimes it just has to happen.

I will not be going out of town for any more weekends during the semester. However, there will be a Disneyland day next month. But the best part about a one-day deal is that it's really easy to account for.

Daily Advice: Be diligent if you travel or else it will bite you in the ass.

*I went up north over the weekend to the Northern California Renaissance Faire. It was awesome, ridiculously hot, and oh-so worth it.

Throwing knives!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My first visual!

I meant to post this a long time ago. Here's a visual of the reading I have to do this semester. This is actually my DVD-shelf (courtesy of my step-sister) but below my actual DVDs you can a tiny selection of my books. The entire top row (books) is completely dedicated to my academic endeavors this semester. 34 books total.