Wednesday, September 14, 2011 0 comments

Grad School - A Time Mangement Challenge

So, it's week 2 at SIPA and although I wish I could say I am on the ball...I feel more like I am on the ball sometimes and other times, I am failing at not falling off. Without a doubt, graduate school is INTENSE. Lots of options, lots of reading, lots to do! The conundrum lies in finding the balance between the assignments, the activities and resting. I have often heard it said that one can have 2 out of 3 things but not all three. You can't have a social life, do well and rest - apparently, I have to choose two..I am hoping to make sure this is not the case. I am only taking 4 classes this semester, possibly 4 and half (one class would be a short course) but the classes I am taking are all core requirements (unless I get into the short course, although I am trying to see if I can get it approved to count towards my security concentration). Meaning, I MUST take them to graduate.

Today, I was talking to one of my colleagues and we both agreed, what is the point of taking as many classes as one can? Now I understand that we are paying a flat rate, (so whether one takes 12 credits or 18 it is the same cost). However, I refuse to completely isolate myself and have no social life. No sir, not me. When I graduate, I doubt people will care about what classes I took at SIPA. The way I see it, I should be learning but I should be happy while doing it, despite the obvious stresses accompanied with a graduate level workload. Since I am not taking the maximum number of classes this semester I can actually do things I find fun or interesting, like joining the International Affairs Journal, going out with other SIPA people or just spending time with my boyfriend.
Monday, September 5, 2011 0 comments

Grad School Orientation - DONE!

Orientation was interesting yet overwhelming. So much information was being thrown at me, from the math camp (more like math boot camp) that week, to registering for classes, networking events, getting my business cards etc. I felt drained everyday I would come home and usually had a headache. My friends joked that if I came out with a headache (sometimes felt like a migraine) someone else may have had a meltdown. Classes haven't even started but without a doubt, Columbia will surely kick my butt. I will do my best as I have to maintain a 3.2 for my fellowship but must get a 3.4 or higher to apply and qualify for a 2nd year fellowship at Columbia to supplement my Rangel fellowship. I already started a study group for one of my classes.

I have also been working on my application for next summer's US embassy internship. After much thought and research I realized Burma isn't the right place for me. My first choice is actually Jakarta, Indonesia, my second is Bangkok, Thailand and my third is Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. I really do hope I get Indonesia though, as it would be a good place to do some thesis research, so we shall see. Either way, things will work out. By the way, I am taking my foreign service oral assessment (a sort of all day practicum comprised of 3 parts) this month on the 23rd. If I pass, I'll be done with my requirements for the foreign service and will be a Foreign Service Officer after finishing graduate school!

Currently, I am taking 5 classes. Economics 4200 (a year long course that is required), Politics of Policymaking (my mpa core requirement), War, Peace and Strategy (my int'l security requirement), management and governance of developing countries (a management class- I have to take one but I can choose from 5 different types) and East Asian Security. In addition, I am taking a professional development workshop for .5 credits that is required. I may drop one of these classes, most likely the management and governance one because I heard it's horrible and everyone I've talked to hasn't said a single nice thing about this class. However, I wanted to see how bad it was for myself because the material itself seems interesting.