It’s time to check in with our first-year student bloggers, now with a full Fletcher semester behind them! First up is Lisa:
It is hard to believe that my first semester at Fletcher is over! It was an incredibly busy, fun, challenging, and rewarding experience, full of amazing people, interesting events, and new learning opportunities. With a semester’s worth of memos, research papers, and finals over, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my first semester at Fletcher and give prospective students a few words of advice.
I came to Fletcher with less work experience than many students, almost immediately after finishing my undergraduate degree. The first couple weeks at school felt overwhelming, and I am not going to lie: I was really stressed out. My fellow students have amazing stories to tell about interesting internships, fantastic jobs, and world-changing projects they had worked on prior to coming to Fletcher. At first I felt like I did not have anything noteworthy to contribute. One day I was having a conversation with one of my professors, and she said to me: “The Admissions Office at Fletcher does not make mistakes! You are here because you have unique experiences that are worth sharing.” Her words really lifted my spirits and gave me the confidence I needed at that moment. If you ever feel overwhelmed or down at Fletcher, think of these words!
When it comes to choosing classes, I was not being particularly strategic: I chose the courses that were especially interesting to me in my tentative Fields of Study. I ended up taking International Human Rights Law, Development Aid in Policy and Practice, International Communication, and the Processes of International Negotiation. If I could go back in time and change my class selection, I would probably look more carefully at the syllabi to gauge how much reading the class requires. My advice is to have a balanced schedule, where you are not overwhelmed by the readings. Also, it is impossible to read every single thing on the syllabus, hence skimming comes in handy!
This semester I attended various events at Fletcher, ranging from familiar topics of Russia-Ukraine relations to topics that I have very little knowledge of, such as the U.S.-Japan military alliance. Every lecture, book talk, and round table discussion is an invaluable opportunity to learn something new and to expand your network. While it might seem like school work takes up 25 out of 24 possible hours a day, find some time to go to an event and broaden your horizons! As for me, next semester I plan to start attending more conferences and talks outside of Fletcher, since the Boston area is so rich in its vast array of incredible educational institutions.
I also was able to secure a job with the Russia and Eurasia Program at Fletcher. If you are reading an article on the program’s website, chances are it was posted by me. I work 10 to 12 hours a week, which helps me become better at managing my time and gets my mind off school work. I found networking with other students to be extremely helpful when you are looking for on-campus employment. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask questions, perhaps there is an employer on campus who is looking for your exact qualifications!
My last piece of advice to myself and to my fellow Fletcherites is the following: take time to take care of your mind and body. We live in an incredibly fast-paced environment, where it becomes easy to forget about adequate sleep, timely meals, regular exercise, and rest overall. Please take a moment to enjoy a sunny day outside, a nutritious lunch, a good laugh with your friends and family, a favorite song in your playlist, a fun trip to the mountains or the beach, and a good night sleep. No matter how much you have to do for your classes, your health should always come first!