Friday, October 8, 2010

Back in time

I realize that I hadn't really posted anything in my blog about how school had been going. The reality of it was that things were okay, but pretty much any free time I had I was spending studying or with my family, and as a result wasn't really blogging.

It turned out that I had to commute to school five days a week (initially I thought it would only be three), and then work three days a week (12-hour shift overnights). MiniMan went to on-campus daycare three days a week with me, and those days were nice, because it meant that whenever I wasn't in class I could use the chunks of time to do homework and study.

Chemistry was going really well. My lecturer was good, and I was getting A's on my tests. Even though I was doing well, it was kind of maddening to be in a class with four-hundred other students. The professor was impossible to contact except after the class (he didn't even list his office location or e-mail in the syllabus) and we had to rely on TAs for everything. I was impressed that they had chem office hours 9-5, five days a week, but then I realized that the office hours were in fact, a room filled with twenty students looking for help, and one TA milling around helping one person at a time. Sometimes people would wait forty-five minutes before the TA even talked to them. It was really screwed up.

Physics was going okay. I think that math-intensive courses will always be more challenging for me. My homework assignments took up huge amounts of time. I wasn't able to get everything done on campus and during the evenings, so I ended up hiring a baby sitter on the weekends so that I could spend more time on my problem sets.

When I wasn't in class, I was spending tons of time in the car. The commute was pleasant. It was a pretty drive, but when I realized how much time I was spending in the car (over fifteen hours a week), it started to drive me crazy. I could have been spending that time studying. As a result, I devised a sort of flash card study system which I brought with me in the car. I think this really disturbed my husband. He was convinced that I was going to crash my car through some combination of distraction and sleep deprivation.

Crash my car, I did not, but be sleep deprived, I'm sure I was. I was yearning to work only two nights a week instead of three, but if I did, I was guaranteed to lose my health insurance and other benefits. This resulted in a sort of bizarre schedule which went something along the lines of:

6:00a.m. Get up to get dressed.
6:45a.m. Start driving to school.
8:15a.m. Arrive at school.
8:30a.m. Go to my chem lab.
12:00 noon Drive home.
1:30p.m. Watch MiniMan, eat lunch, attempt to tackle laundry, make dinner.
5:45p.m. Get dressed for work.
6:00p.m. Leave for the hospital.
6:45p.m. Arrive at work.
1:00a.m. Eat "lunch" again.
7:15a.m. Leave work, pick up MiniMan, drive to school.
9:00a.m. Drop MiniMan off at daycare.
9:25a.m. Park, walk to class.
9:40a.m. Chem lecture.
10:40a.m. Study, eat lunch No. 3.
12:00 noon Physics lecture.
1:00p.m. Physics "discussion" with useless professor who constantly gets confused and gives quizzes during practically every class.
2:00p.m. Study.
4:15p.m. Physics lab with TA who talks way to fast and seems irritated by the prospect of having to teach us.
5:40p.m. Pick up MiniMan from daycare.
6:00p.m. Drive home.
7:30p.m. Get home, figure out some form of dinner.
8:30p.m. Fall asleep on the couch next to husband.

There were always a couple nights like this, days where I had to go to school and then work and then go back to school. Or nights where I had to work, couldn't sleep during the day, and then had to work another night. At first I wondered if I would be able to do it, and then I realized I could. I felt important and invincible. I had a purpose. I was more giddy than tired. It was like being drunk.


  1. Nice post, it really shows how chaotic things have been. My mother went to dental school and had 3 young children (including a newborn and a three year old -- i was six) when she started the pre-requisites. We made it work by having my dad pick up *a lot* of slack. One person can't do it all.

  2. That schedule sounds horrible. Please tell me you've figured something else out that allows you to sleep a bit more?