Time Warp

Today I had an informational interview with a college sophomore who wants to become an occupational therapist someday. It was a really great conversation, and talking with her about OT really just helped me reaffirm my love for this field, my passion for promoting occupational therapy, and informing others about the wide variety of ways in which OTs can support a client.

While talking with “Sarah,” I was able to answer a lot of questions she had about the application process, different graduate programs, the outlook for OT as a profession and what got me into OT. As we talked, I realized that even in just a few short months my knowledge of the profession and my “elevator speech” have improved significantly. During our conversation, I was better able to describe differences between OT and PT, list some of the many practice settings where OTs work outside of schools and hospitals, and truly reflect on the long, arduous application process so I could give advice about what to do and NOT do. We ended up talking for about an hour, and it was amazing!

It blows my mind to think that just a couple of years ago I was in her shoes, interviewing a physical therapist and trying to find out what I wanted to do with my life. And just like her, I was worried about how my major would translate into “the real world” or a career and wondering which health profession was right for me. Fast forward two years and I’m now the one describing my (future) profession, talking about shadowing opportunities, and making recommendations for her next steps on the path to becoming an OT! It’s kind of crazy!

I also love how being an OT means that I will always get to incorporate the things that I love into my work. I can continue working with agriculturalists and veterans, use animals in treatment, read articles, take classes, and serve others for the rest of my life, and it’s gonna be great! (I started feeling during the interview that Sarah was going to have to wait another four years to become an OT, lol!) The wait seems long enough for me too, but it’s already November and nearly the end of the semester. Hopefully in another couple years I’ll be writing my first post as a occupational therapist about how I can’t believe how quickly time has passed since I started school…but for now I’ll just stick to blogging about the journey!

All By My Self…

So this upcoming week, I have a lot going on! Here’s a rundown of why you might not see me:

  • For the next three days, I’m going to be completing the second part of my first Fieldwork I rotation at a local hospital’s acute rehab unit. For this particular rotation, I’ll be working from 7:30 to 4:30 and completing a fieldwork assignment that will require me to interview a client and analyze a task that they perform. I’m kind of nervous, but I’m gonna fake it til I make it and hope all goes well!
  • I am taking the final exam for my neuroscience course. It’s pretty stressful trying to study and finish the online exam before everything else that’s going on this week, but I feel like I am decently prepared and hoping for the best!
  • I’m starting a new bellydance class. I really missed engaging in this occupation, and I’m hoping that taking a class will help me de-stress and meet some new friends in the area.
  • I’m speaking on a panel for undergraduates interested in health careers. I’ve never spoken on a panel before, or about OT to a group of people, so I’m not sure what to expect. But we’ll see how it goes, I guess! (Hopefully I’ll at least emerge with some tips and advice for other people who might be representing OT at local or collegiate events.)

In the midst of all that, I’m going to try and do at least a couple blog posts, but I’m not sure how that’s going to go. I’m still struggling to find a work-life balance that works for me, and coming straight to graduate school from undergrad is making that a little harder than I thought it would be. I kind of figured that I would have an advantage over many of my classmates who had been out of school for several years, because I would be more prepared for the daily grind of class, homework and studying. While I do feel like I’m doing well academically, I’ve actually been having a pretty difficult time outside of class just finding friends and opportunities to relax.

Honestly, since I graduated from college and moved to a new town where I knew nobody except my mom (who’s a little too far away to see regularly) and a couple of her family friends, it’s been kind of lonely. It’s strange, because I spend most of my time in class or at work, where I’m surrounded by people, but when I go home I’m finding that I really miss the leisure activities and social connections that I had in undergrad.

Since starting grad school, I went from living with three other roommates in an on-campus apartment to living with one roommate in an off-campus complex. Instead of managing and being a part of several clubs, I am now struggling to find time to complete all my homework assignments thoroughly, complete class projects and study for exams and quizzes each week. I feel like I’m still constantly busy, just not with the same kind of stuff I was in undergrad – the leisure part of my life has all but disappeared.

However, being the proactive person that I am, I decided a couple weeks ago that I was going to try harder to make friends, go out, get out and find time to do things that I enjoy. So last week I invited a classmate to a local bellydance event and also attended an on-campus meeting to learn more about having a good relationship with my faculty advisor. I also signed up to take a bellydance class at a local studio, and even though taking the class is going to take up several hours of my week for the next six weeks, I’m hoping that picking up something I love again and taking advantage of an opportunity to meet new people and try new things will be good for me! One of the things I’ve struggled with most since moving here was not being able to continue dancing, and now that I’m going to be filling that void I hope that I’ll feel better.

I’m also actively trying to make plans with classmates, instead of just sitting back and waiting to be invited to things. This particular lesson is one that I learned early in my undergraduate career, back when I was a lonely freshman who spent many nights listening to others laughing and chatting on their way to and from various events and wishing I had been invited to go along. It’s a little different inviting people to events in grad school, just because people live in different places and have different obligations, but I’m trying! Although my program is one of the smaller ones in the country, there are enough people in it that I can find friends and begin building a new social and support network here. It’s just more up to me to initiate activities and make plans now.

All of the new grad friends I’ve talked to have said that they’re having difficulty with the post-grad transition too, which makes me feel less alone. It’s hard leaving a life where I was surrounded by friends and social opportunities all the time for one where I feel like that’s not the case, but I’m surviving. I’ll keep you posted on how I’m navigating the post-grad world, and how this crazy week ends up!

Long Time, No Post

It feels good to be back! I’ve been pretty absent for the past couple of weeks because of a death in the family of my significant other and the fact that it’s finals week here at my college. Not so good times. So I’ve been doing a lot of traveling, homework and studying that has prevented me from doing what REALLY matters – writing blog posts! Not that this post is going to be anything special, or even anything particularly related to occupational therapy, but I just want to get back in the swing of things with my writing.

I do have a blog post planned that is my response and criticisms of this article about occupational therapy: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/article/20140414/ENTERTAINMENTLIFE/140419857/10298/LIFESTYLE

For now, I will say that I feel like this article was a decent attempt to explain occupational therapy to the general public, but it falls short from this goal in a myriad of ways. I am also going to explain how I believe the author could have approached the topic differently to explain occupational therapy more accurately and to make it a more engaging reading for anyone who came across the article. So I’m looking forward to having enough time to finally sit down and write that!

In other news, I will be graduating from college in less than two weeks. It’s hard to believe that I’m a senior with pretty much all of my undergraduate career behind me, and I try not to think about it too often! But in spite of myself, I frequently have moments of nostalgia as I cross campus and think about the picnic my friends and I had in one spot or the time we spent in the library getting glared at for being too loud or all of the amazing (and not so amazing) classes I have been so blessed to be able to have taken. As I reflect upon the four years I’ve spent here, I really understand just how fortunate I am to have been able to go to college and earn a degree in areas of study I am passionate about. I will be graduating with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and with ZERO debt thanks to the full scholarship I earned.

I never used to think about (or understand) what a miracle it is for me to be graduating without any loans or debt hanging over my head, but hearing my friends’ stories about the staggering amounts of debt they are facing at just 22 and 23 years of age has made my reality a somewhat rare and very sobering one. In the future I will be getting a taste of what it’s like to take out and pay on loans, because my graduate education certainly isn’t going to be free! However, I am hoping to graduate in two years and begin participating in a state-sponspored loan program that pays back student loans of people who go into “high demand” professions like occupational therapy! And even if that doesn’t end up happening, I’ll just be happy to be paying off only two years’ worth of school.

So, on that somewhat saddening note, I am off to write more papers, review more study guides, learn more material I should have learned months ago and generally wait for graduation to roll around!