Consider me oriented

Oh, look! A grad school related post. 🙂

(Note: there were supposed to be at least 4 posts  this week, but due to some complications with the beloved iMac, I lost Monday and Tuesday. Quite sad. I will attempt to make up for it over the next few days.)

Yesterday, I got up at 7:30am — a big deal for me since the end of work — and attended Graduate Orientation at UNC-G. As I remember my undergraduate orientation experience all too well, I wasn’t too excited by the prospect. I know it’s important to get the necessary information to understand a new environment, blah, blah, blah. But I’ve yet to be oriented in a way that doesn’t involve several speakers in succession chucking vital information at me in indigestible lumps.

This ordeal was painfully preceded by a meet-and-greet breakfast.  Mercifully, they provided coffee, but the whole affair consisted of a buffet line and few tall tables at which we were expected to stand, guzzle caffeine and mini quiches, and make small talk. I met some nice people. I believe I was relatively sociable, but it’s all kind of hazy now. I’m fairly certain I didn’t eviscerate anyone for speaking too loudly at the hour. Everyone was tired and — or so it seemed to me — a little nervous. There was a collective acknowledgment that graduate school is an entirely different monster and none of us were confident enough to step into the beast’s cage quite yet.

(Oh, our reward for rising at the early hour and dragging ourselves to the auditorium was a nylon drawstring bag with the school’s name and emblem, and a large, thick academic catalogue called the Graduate Bulletin, which I believe should be quite handy in fending off burglars, should the need arise.)

It’s a mid-size public university, with a heavy draw for nontraditional students and commuters. So the people there were from all walks of life, from kids straight out of school to senior citizens. All races, all genders. A diverse group of programs. Because of my job editing the graduate newsletter, I already know that there are seven divisions of the Graduate School and about 4000 students. They offer graduate certificates, Masters degrees, and PhDs.

Usually I am repulsed by large groups of people, particularly in an unfamiliar place. But I felt oddly comfortable in the auditorium, looking at faces as people trickled in. It occurred to me: these are my people. It’s quite common to get an undergraduate degree nowadays. But these were the people who, like me, are interested in taking their education further.

I was surrounded by nerds!

Not entirely, mind you, because there are some career-oriented degrees offered by the University and therefore those people need an advanced degree in order to achieve their employment goals. But still, plenty of awkward, book-pushing academics, just like me. It was positively comfortable.

Less comfortable: the subsequent 3 hours of administrative presentations. I didn’t fall asleep, I swear.

But I suppose I am oriented. Even though I could have looked up most of it on the website.

Tomorrow is the much more exciting MFA Kick-Off Party, which I will be sure to report on. I confess I am a little hesitant about the inherently social nature of the degree program, but it’ll be nice to spend time with people who love books and writing as much as I do. And I’m bringing foccaccia.


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