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!