The second student blogger end-of-semester wrap-up comes from Kaitlyn, who like many of her fellow students, appreciates a busy schedule.
This first semester, especially the second half, was a whirlwind of activity. It had never felt so bizarre as when I passed in my last final exam and stepped outside the doors of Fletcher to realize there was nothing else on the day’s — or the week’s — itinerary. After four months of non-stop activity it was nice to stroll across campus in the crisp winter air and soak in the relief that everything, for now, was done. At the same time I felt restless. Having an open itinerary might be refreshing to some, but my natural mode is to be busy. Hence, as soon as exams were done: I baked chocolate cake for my classmates so we could all celebrate, finished the puzzle we’ve all been working on in the Ginn Library, and then sat down to write this blog post. The principle topic on my mind was reflection: how did I feel after one semester? What were my resolutions going into the next one?
1. It is okay to explore a lot of Fields of Study – and it’s easier than I thought.
At the beginning of the semester, surrounded by many peers who were already firmly established in their careers, it was tempting to think that I should have a very clear idea of the Fields of Study I wanted to focus on, and the specific classes I wanted to take.
And then I talked to more second years.
The advice I got from them ranged from: “don’t worry about Fields of Study — just take whatever looks interesting,” to “take one that will get you a job and one that is for fun.”
I’m too much of a planner to like the first option, but the middle ground between the two is one that suits me well: plan one, and give myself the freedom to build the second one based on what’s most interesting. There are plenty of opportunities to explore different subjects, even with only 16 credits in the MALD program. Auditing courses, attending special events, and talking to peers and professors are all ways my fellow first years and I have found to explore Fields of Study that didn’t fit in our schedules. There’s also always that one class that takes you completely by surprise – as was the case for me and Art & Science of Statecraft. I took it because it fulfilled a breadth requirement and looked the most interesting. Turns out, it was my favorite class from my first semester! I’ll be taking the follow up course in the spring. I am not sure it will be part of a Field of Study, but if my experience in education has taught me anything, it is that following my interests is the most rewarding way to go.
2. Fletcher’s community really is the best.
I cannot emphasize enough how much everyone supports each other. It is much different than undergrad; here everyone is equally passionate about their courses and equally invested in the quality of their work. My study groups worked well together for the first time in my life, and I had my first good (actually amazing) experience with a group project in “Gender, Culture, and Conflict.”
And outside classes, our community in Fletcher’s dorm has become very close knit: we organized movie nights during exams, celebrated birthdays, and organized “Blakeley chats,” where our peers could give mini-presentations about their work and their experiences. By far the high point of my semester was one of these community moments: Medford had its first snow just before finals started. And my excitement and celebration over that was exponentially more memorable and special because I could share it with my friends and fellow bloggers (shout out Akshobh and Prianka) for whom it was a “first snow.”
1. Garder plus du temps pour pratiquer le Français
I worked hard this semester on reading and writing French. I reached the point where I could do both without translating back to English, a proficiency goal I never thought I’d reach. Next year I’ll take the oral half of my French proficiency exam and (security clearance pending) have an internship in Paris this summer. Thus, my second resolution is to invest more time into practicing my conversation skills — by taking advantage of the language courses offered at Tufts’ Olin Center and carefully planning my spring classes around a French audit.
2. Get More Involved!
There’s never time to do everything that’s going on at Fletcher. I didn’t try too hard to do so while adjusting to the rigors of grad school. With my first semester over, my most important resolution for 2018 is to add more activities to my schedule: get more involved with clubs, attend more events, and buy a giant paper calendar to better plan my job and classwork around events.