Finding my place

I have found my people.  Quite possibly the last place I would have expected to find them was in a research methods class, but that is indeed where I finally found them.  I feel a little bit like Gonzo must have felt in “Muppets from Space” when, after a life time of being the oddball alien that no one could quite figure out, he was suddenly surrounded by a whole slew of people who looked like him and thought like him.  (yes, I am a Muppets geek. I hope you are too.)

Today was the first “first day of school” that I have experienced in five years.  It was a strange yet exciting feeling to be a student again, pen and notebook in hand, reading over a syllabus.  I must admit I was a bit bummed to realize that my first class of graduate school would be a research methods class, but by the end of the class I was TOTALLY geeked out for the rest of the semester.

How awesome is grad school? Let me count the ways.

1. Being older, more experienced, and, well, adult, your professors are more like peers than they ever were before, only way more knowledgeable than your peers are.

2. You are focused in a subject area that you (hopefully) are really passionate about.  This makes learning much more fun!

3. Because most graduate programs are housed in larger universities, there is a wealth of information/research/resources at your fingertips, specific to your field.  Which is really exciting, especially when you’re in a really tiny field.

4. You’re surrounded by people that are equally geeked out as you about the topics you’re diving into.

Some (if not all) of this information may seem obvious to you, but here is why it is so exciting to me.  As an undergraduate student at a small liberal arts college, I was really interested in all the things I’m interested in now, but my professors were not equipped to teach me about these things.  Don’t get me wrong – they were excellent at what they did – but their interests and realms of experience just didn’t encompass my non-traditional interests.  Likewise, my fellow students looked at me somewhat askance when I tried to explain to them how exciting the field of community-based and applied theater was.  Even in the past week, during NYU’s “Welcome Week,” I only met students from other programs who were all somewhat confused by my program.  Now, suddenly, in my first graduate class, I am surrounded by people with similar stories.

So, like I said, I have found my people.  In the words of the community-based play I worked on in Tennessee a few months ago: I am home.

Addendum:
I wrote this two days ago, but due to my lack of home internet until now I am only just now publishing it.  I’ve just come from my second class of the semester, titled “Coping with Conflict: Drama as a Catalyst for Social Awareness,” and I am if possible EVEN MORE geeked out for this semester.  Yay!

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New York, DC, and Knoxville – Oh My!

So I started writing this four days ago… apologies for the delay!

This has been quite the week!  After leaving Boston on Monday I spent two and a half days in New York, took a bus to DC and spent approximately 36 hours there before busing to Knoxville, where I spent about 24 hours before finally taking a bus to Johnson City where I got picked up and taken to my final destination for the next month: Jonesborough!

While in New York, I had the opportunity both to visit NYU and also to attend the aforementioned “Artistic Review Day” at CUNY.  I was seriously hoping to have a strong sense of where I want to go once I’d finished, but in fact I was more torn than ever after my visits.  There are so many factors that make each program unique and wonderful, and it has been very hard to figure things out.  Ultimately, however, I looked at the two curricula side-by-side and I realized that CUNY is just more what I’m looking for right now.  The unfortunate thing is that I won’t find out if I’ve been accepted to CUNY for a few more weeks.  I’ll keep you posted on what happens with that!

The Artistic Review Day was an exciting event.  It was very small – there were only 6 prospective students in attendance that day (they will be doing several of these over the next few weeks).  We began the day with a three-hour interactive workshop, in which we played several theatre games, many of which I’d never played before.  These all built up until finally, for the last exercise, we split into two groups and created a piece based on a visual prompt, in which we were given instructions to consider a specific audience and create something that would raise questions for that audience.  The interesting thing that came out of this for me was the way in which our piece ended up raising questions/awareness within myself.  My group decided to gear our piece towards an audience like ourselves: people in the midst of making a big decision, taking a step forward into a next phase of life.  Through performing this and asking myself what I was facing, I realized how much fear I have about what I’m doing and what I’m about to do, and yet at the same time how much I know that I need this.

As for the following few days, it was a whirlwind of DC, bus, Knoxville.  I spent a wonderful Sunday at Sunday School and Feast with the Knoxville Baha’i Community before getting on the bus to Johnson City, where I was picked up by my hosts in Jonesborough.  Enjoy the pictures below!

Anjali (my lovely hostess), me, and Katie having delicious muffins for breakfast!

Two Vagabonders meet up in NYC!

Welcome to Tennessee!! View from the bus 🙂

My lovely host family in Knoxville, the Bahrami's