So this post will reflect some of the things I have figured out during my first year as a graduate chemistry student at WCU. Some of them to me I feel dumb for not knowing and some of them I wish I would have figured out earlier! Overall my first year (and first half of Summer 2013) has been filled with awesome memories, interesting classes and even more amazing people! So here it goes!
- Life as a teacher (of labs) is not as exciting as I would have thought. Sure I enjoyed teaching the Chem 139 lab , both semesters, but at times I did not look forward to it ( mainly when final grades were due). I never imagined a student complaining about a final grade of a 98.4 and I never thought I would have a student try to skip out midway through lab! I did think that teaching these labs would inspire more people to want to study chemistry, but I was also wrong, they were just very glad to be done with it FOREVER!
- Figuring out my research was not as easy !!!! It took me about 3 weeks after hearing all the professors research talks to finally decide on who I wanted to work with. Then after talking with him (and the other students who knew more about him) I thought about jumping ship and going into a topic that was something that I didn’t feel passionate about. I am glad that I didn’t, I stuck with the original professor that I wanted to work with ( even with his warning and the others).
- Life could have been easier if I would have just went straight to working. This is something that I had considered before coming to WCU, just get a job, work and begin to pay off school loans. This was an idea in my head simply because of a amazing internship and company that I worked for during a summer. I thought apply there, get a job, and work ( that is if I got a job). But in the end I know that I LOVE school and I really wanted to be able to figure out my area in chemistry!
- Follow what you think will interest you, no matter how off-the-wall it may sound. As you have gathered I am hopefully going into the field of Art Conservation or Historic Preservation ( mainly material identification) after this and chemistry is a amazing tool set to have in these fields. I want to study/ live in amazing places and be able to explore, so these fields fit perfectly. These areas are also something that I am interested in because it isn’t the typical (organic, medical, nano, bio) chemistry that is generally though of, it is truly something different ( or atleast in my mind it is ).
- Last but not least, enjoy your time here. There are classes, labs and research that needs to be done, but if all you do is that then life gets dull. The first semester I had slightly enjoyed my time here, but was still in the I am new here phase. The spring semester was drastically different! I went out with some other students, took ceramics ( I was horrible at it) and also began to make sure that every week had some “fun” time in it. I really learned how to better balance classes, teaching,
failingresearch, studying, and going out time. Graduate school is different then undergrad, you have less classes and more responsibilities, but it is still college!
Overall, I love being a graduate student (which is why I will be hopefully going to another program after this) . It has allowed me to develop my research skills, my chemistry knowledge, and find a field that I am passionate about. So if you are ever thinking about grad school, I say go for it and don’t think twice about it!