praise for new paths

babymeme

Today begins my last week of classes. No, this is not going to be another sappy post about all the things I’ve learned in grad school.  You’ve stuck with me through enough of those posts.  No, this time I’m writing about all the things that I’m looking forward to now that we’re wrapping up this path and beginning on a new-ish adventure. Here we go:

waltdisneypaths

  • Celebrating more than Christmas with family
    • Birthdays, EASTER, Thanksgiving, Softball games, Sunday lunches, life
  • Starting a “big girl” job
    • & praying for excellent supervision on my internship
    • & meeting new people who love working as school psychs
  • Living 2 hours from the beach and 2 hours from the mountains
  • New town (and new food places) to explore
    • farmer’s markets, bakeries, coffee shops…yes, please!
  • Praying for community and a church to join
  • Meeting new friends in our same stage of life
    • We’re planting roots this time, y’all.  Whether we’re there for a year or more, we are getting involved and making lifelong friendships.
  • Doing life with Case, wherever it takes us
    • that’s our mantra: doing life together. & I can’t wait to see what life has in store

Things I will actually miss about Wacotown:

commongroundsfarmersmarketpatneff

  • Sweet friends to share war work stories with
    • And the piano man
  • Authentic Mexican food
  • Day/weekend trips to Austin (my favorite)
  • Common Grounds (caramel coffee crunch=life)
  • Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market
  • The place where Case and I got engaged, started our married life together, and shared our first “home”
  • Believe it or not, Baylor.

I may not be the next Olivia Pope…

…but I did enjoy a nice trip to Washington, DC.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to NASP’s annual conference.  This year it was in Washington, DC, which afforded us a plethora of tourist-y activities for the week.

Washington DC - 29

First, we hit the monuments, from Washington and Lincoln to the various war memorials.  We also visited fun museums like the Natural History Museum and the Air & Space Museum, which are some of the coolest museums I’ve been to!  One of my favorites was visiting the Ford Theater to see the place where Lincoln was shot and died.

As far as the conference goes, I would say that the experience will be much more valuable in the next couple of years as I begin to work in the field.  While there were sessions geared towards grad students, I didn’t find them to be as helpful as one would expect.  Even those seem more applicable in your second year, as a practicum student. So, I’m looking forward to heading back to conferences over the years to continue to build upon the foundation I’m working on in grad school.

On Friday I took a detour and headed back to Georgia to see my family.  After a short weekend there, I returned to good ole Waco, Texas. Now there is only one week before I travel back to Georgia during spring break.  Then wedding planning will kick into high gear!

As graduate school has been taking up the bulk of my time, planning has been paused.  I am excited to get back to that because it really has been enjoyable. It’s funny though–I keep waiting on everyone to get tired of hearing about the wedding, but truth be told, I’ve found that I’m usually the one saying, “Let’s talk about that later.”  Don’t get me wrong, I do like when people ask about plans, but when I’m overwhelmed with other things, wedding planning takes a back seat.
I’ve just found that I’m a thousand times more concerned with preparing for my marriage than planning for my wedding.

taking a turn for the better

Sorry for the delay in posts; graduate school consumes about 70% of my life now (and that’s probably an understatement).  The first weekend of the month I actually flew home to see my cousin get married to her high school sweetheart.  It was beautiful, and it was wonderful to see my family.

casie

Last week I struggled with anxiety, and I was very sick on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thankfully I’m feeling better.  I definitely bounced back more quickly than I would have this time last year.  I’m thankful to have Cason here by my side.  The move to Texas has been a transition for the both of us, but we are making it through together.  Cason has a new job.  I have new friends, I think (which is a big deal for me).  I’ve even managed to stay in touch with some GA friends, and that’s honestly something I was most worried about; I’m terrible about keeping in touch, even with my best friends.  I’m blessed to have friends who reach out to me especially given that we are all so busy.

Cason and I also believe we have found a new church home.  The worship music is an excellent combination of contemporary worship music and new renditions of old hymns; it reminds me of RUF worship at Mercer. (Shout out to the RUF band! Miss you!)   The sermons provide informative historical backgrounds for the verses each week, and I really like his preaching style.  It’s all very Bible-oriented, which should be a no-brainer for the church, but these days it’s harder to find someone who actually preaches the Bible.

hymnpainting

Anyway, now to school-related things.  The past couple of weeks I have advised my undergraduate students to evaluate their midterm goals, so I decided to make a few of my own.  I’ve encouraged my students to be open and honest, and I tried to do the same on my evaluation.  Writing these goals down helped me get the ball rolling in some areas.  I’ve already met a couple of goals on there, like talking to my professors, scheduling more time for coursework, and studying with my peers.  Perhaps I should add some more goals to this list!  Graduate school is bringing out a whole new side of me, and I like it!

midtermgoals
My brutally honest midterm goals evaluation.

I have my first exam in Ethics of School Psychology (<–short version of the course title) on Monday, and I’ve made a study plan to help me tackle all the information from 7 class days, an entire textbook,  our program handbook, 10+ articles, and multiple PowerPoint presentations.  Needless to say, I have a lot of studying to do, and it has already begun.  Hopefully my brain won’t be fried after class and I can keep studying this evening.  Even though I’ve only been there a couple of times, Common Grounds is one of my favorite places to study.  Expect to find me there all weekend.

studying

Lastly, today is my 1 year anniversary of this blog, and it’s Baylor homecoming week.  Sic’em.

how to survive your first week in graduate school

  1. BREATHE.
    Remember that even though you’ve experienced 4 years of college, graduate school is a new experience.  Amidst learning a new schedule, meeting new people, figuring out professors’ expectations, and completing loads of assignments, I have to take a moment to myself each day to pause and just breathe.  Some days just stopping to catch my breath, counting the number of slow inhales and exhales, relaxes me.  Graduate school is stressful, but there’s something about consciously breathing in and out that reminds me that I’m alive!  I’m going to make it!  It’s a great way to pause and refocus before moving on to the next task in a list of many.
  2. SLEEP.
    Gone are the days of staying up until 1 or 2am and sleeping until 10 or 11am.  Gone.  Now, 12am is a late bedtime for me, and sleeping until 8:30 or 9 is a luxury.  Honestly, I’m more okay with that than I thought I would be.  Completing tasks in the morning and early afternoon gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Waiting the night before an assignment was due never gave me that.
    Sleeping on a regular schedule actually reduces stress.  Yes, I know that people have told me this for years, but I’m finally realizing it.  Perhaps I’m a slow learner at times, but now that I’ve got this routine down, I feel indescribably better.  Sleep is now something that I look forward to, as opposed to a burden.  Getting a good night’s rest is crucial in graduate school.  The days will be long and miserable after a poor night’s sleep.coffee
  3. EAT.
    …don’t just eat–eat well.  Okay, okay, so I’m still trying to cut out those sodas at dinner and the fast food junk when I’m in a jam.  BUT eating well boosts energy and overall attitude.  Snacks that are high in protein have become a staple for me.  I keep almonds in my desk drawer at work; I’ll throw some low-sodium jerky in my purse for a snack; greek yogurt with fruit and granola is quickly becoming a favorite; and peanut butter will always be my protein comfort food.  I can definitely tell a difference in my attitude and energy level on days when I forget my snacks.  Nobody wants a tired, grumpy graduate student, so handy snacks are a must.
    Oh, and breakfast is ALWAYS a good idea.  My Keurig is great, but the caffeine from the coffee is not going to last.  Muffins, breakfast bars, fruit–a must.  I never thought I’d become a believer in breakfast, but I’ve been converted.
  4. READ.
    Do the assignments.  Do them ahead of time.  Plan every hour of every day and squeeze in reading time whenever possible.  I print out articles and carry them around in my purse.  I carry my books to the office and read between appointments.  I read over breakfast, lunch, and usually dinner.  I read constantly, it feels like.  Sometimes the professors cover the material and sometimes they talk about something entirely different.  Either way, completing the reading gives me a better idea of what to expect in class and enables me to answer questions and discuss things with the class.

cantsintocans

That’s the best advice I have, and just to be honest, I typed it out mostly for my own benefit.  My lifestyle changed drastically in the past three weeks, and it’s a good change.  This post will serve as a reminder to keep it up when I feel like giving in.

My first couple of weeks of class have been stressful, it’s true, but they have been overwhelmingly good.  Even though the work is never-ending, I am thankful to finally be able to focus on school psychology.  I’d rather read 5 articles and upwards of 10 chapters a week about school psychology than have a smaller load of gen. ed. classes.

my first week in Waco

Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Texas, USA
Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Texas, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a week.  We have been in Texas for over a week, and it still hardly seems real.
On Thursday afternoon, my parents and I began the 13-hour drive to Waco around 1pm.  We arrived around 1:30am and headed straight to bed.  Friday morning we were up and at ’em.  We got the key to my beautiful house and started moving things in right away.  That afternoon we made our first trip in Texas to the nearest IKEA, and when we returned Dad and I put together my new bed.  We spent the rest of the weekend getting me settled in, buying groceries and the like.

Tuesday night, the ladies from my cohort enjoyed an evening getting to know each other.  We would have invited the guys, but they hadn’t joined our Facebook group at that point.  We met and spent time chatting about ourselves, where we’re from, and what we’re doing here now.  Spending some time together helped us to feel comfortable as we navigated the orientations that followed.

First we experienced the Graduate School orientation together, followed by Baylor’s Educational Psychology department orientation.  There we met several of the faculty and most of the first year students in the Ed. Psych department.  On Thursday, all 7 of us introduced ourselves to one another and to our professors at our School Psychology orientation.  We learned more about the program before heading off to a local eatery for lunch.  There, we shared some good ole Texas barbecue.  After lunch we learned more about Baylor’s Autism Resource Center, known to us now as the BARC.

When we were done navigating orientations as a group, we split up on Friday as my roommate and I headed to our graduate assistantship orientations.  There we learned about Baylor’s Academic Success Center, where I will spend 20 hours a week working with students to provide them with resources for success here at Baylor.  (Meanwhile, I will need your prayers for this part of my endeavor.)

In other news, I can find the following locations without my GPS:
My house
Baylor
Cason’s house
HEB (the grocery store)
Walmart
The mall
& various restaurants
Needless to say, I’ve got the necessities down.

We’ve been in Texas over a week and I’ve already met over 20 new people and visited about 6 local eateries, and this is just the beginning.  Next up: a recap of my first week in grad school!

a big “to-do” for baylor

Back when I thought I was going to China, I had a to-do list that I was updating fairly regularly here on athousandnewpaths.  (Sidenote: If you haven’t read about where the title for my blog originated, check it out here.)  Well I thought that I created a Baylor to-do list to replace the list for China, but I can’t seem to find it.  So, here it is:

Finalize my sell, donate, & keep piles for my room at home
Extensive cleaning and organizing of room at home
Sell items
Donate items

Pack winter clothes
Sell/donate clothes & shoes I no longer wear
Organize summer clothes
Pack dishes

Pack books
Pack mementos, crafts, & miscellaneous
Sew a canopy for my new bed/room

Register for classes
Order books
Pay bill online
Email mentor
Add class schedule to new Lilly planner

Add GA schedule to new Lilly planner (after receiving GA schedule)
Create a budget

Take my dog, Georgia, to get her yearly vaccinations
Take Georgia to the groomer
Find/purchase a small dog crate

Visit dentist
Check all refills for prescriptions

Buy more contacts

Change addresses
Bank accounts
Get car oil changed and tires rotated and balanced

Compile a list of freezer and crock pot meals
Purchase another crock pot

This seems like a long list of things left to do in less than four weeks, but I’m pretty confident that I can manage it!  Cason and I are getting very excited about moving to Texas.  It gets more and more real every day!  I will keep you updated!

Updated: 8/5/13–Only a few things left to do and just a few for days left to do it!
Updated: 8/13/13–I can’t believe the big move is almost here! I finally compiled a list of crockpot meals, which will help tremendously when I do my first round of grocery shopping at the end of this week. I’ve also succumb to the fact that some things on this list will need to be completed IN TEXAS. That’s actually rather exciting!

How I decided on a graduate school

  1. I decided on a program.
    I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but I decided to pursue another passion in college, psychology.  Along the way I realized that I still wanted to be in a school setting and make a difference in the lives of children.  Then I discovered the field of school psychology and I realized that I was made for it.  So I looked for graduate programs in that field and to my excitement found a 3-year Specialist program.  This would give me a year of full instruction, a year of instruction and work in the schools, and finally an internship year.  When I first realized I would have to go to grad school, I honestly was not thrilled about more school.  However, this program seemed to be tailored to my needs in that it would allow me to actually start doing what school psychologists do under the supervision of professors and other school psychologists.  Plus, more education in a field that I am thrilled about is actually appealing to me now.
  2. I decided on a region.
    When I was young, I was a homebody.  I never ventured far from my parents.  As I’ve gotten older, my comfort zone has expanded somewhat, and I knew that I still wanted to be in the south for graduate schools.  I looked at schools in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.
  3. I applied to most of the schools with my program in the region.
    I applied to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, University of Alabama,  and Baylor University.  School psychology is growing but still relatively new, so it’s not a program that everyone has.  I know it looks like I was pretty selective in where I applied, but I honestly had pretty slim pickings.  The good thing though is that these are all incredibly amazing programs.
  4. I interviewed with schools via Skype and in person.
    Georgia Southern accepted me without an interview, but I Skyped with three of the faculty from Baylor, and then I did an all day interview with the five faculty at Appalachian State.
  5. I made a pros and cons list.
    This is somewhat of an inside joke for anyone who saw the pros and cons list.  One school had all the pros.  We will just leave it at that
  6. I picked the program that was the best fit for me…
    …and that program is BAYLOR UNIVERSITY!  I am so pleased to announce that I have been accepted to their school psychology program for this fall, and I have accepted their offer.  (Many of you know this already, but it feels more official now that it is on the blog!)  I will actually be visiting next week, and I am thrilled!

JWalkerBaylorChevron

I was so excited once I finally accepted their offer that I could not sleep.  I stayed up making poster prints like the one above to hang in my apartment in TEXAS.  This feels like an absolute dream come true, but looking back I realize that I worked my whole life (up until this point) for this.  The goal has always been to do well in school, find a job that I am passionate about, and do what it takes to get there.  This is just another stepping stone along that path, and I am so blessed by and thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me along the way.  I recognize that this achievement cannot be credited to my work alone.  I needed the help and support of my parents, family, friends, and teachers.  Who I am and what I have achieved is a combination of my experiences and interactions with others, and I don’t take that for granted for one second.  Finally, I must acknowledge that my Creator and God had his hand over all of this.  I can look back and say that there were definitely times along the way when I wanted to give up, and I would not have made it through without my relationship with Christ as the foundation of my life.  All the glory goes to Him and the way He has placed people and experiences in my life to form me into the woman I am today.