Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What is #gradschoolguru

I am starting a new series of blog posts under the label #gradschoolguru. These posts will provide information based on my experiences (and those of people around me) to help graduate students navigate the precarious position in which academia has placed us. Like with breadmaking and the other endeavors I've discussed on this blog, I am not some kind of an expert on graduate school (for that you would need to turn to someone like Dr. Joan Bolker or Dr. Karen Kelsky). However, I have made a lot of mistakes (and learned from them), so I would like to share my experiences with others who can learn from my mistakes (and occasional victories) as well.

I have been extremely quiet on this blog for a while. My life has changed in so many ways since I started writing back in my senior year of college. I changed departments, disciplines, marital status, hair style, all sorts of things. There are a few things that haven't changed: (1) I still love to bake, (2) I'm still in academia (studying ancient philosophy), and (3) I want to share things I've learned about baking and academia with those who are interested.

In that vein, I am starting a new series of blog posts under the label #gradschoolguru. When I entered graduate school, although I did not know it, I was bound to fail. I could write graduate level papers and I conducted research that interested my professors, but I could not manage my time, I was in a very bad place mentally, and I had all sorts of misconceived notions about what it means to succeed and what it meant to be an academic. I got lucky-- many people intervened in my inevitable downward spiral and helped me claw my way toward becoming a successful graduate student.

Unfortunately, not every grad student will get as lucky as I have. Not every grad student has mentors that will believe in them and encourage them (even with they screw up). Not every grad student will have friends outside their department who will direct them to other resources on campus. And not every grad student will have the amazing campus resources that I have available. However, I can tell you about my experiences, how I changed my trajectory, and provide some advice that helped me along the way.

I'm labeling these posts #gradschoolguru. I came up with the name because of the alliteration (tacky, I know, but true). However, I think that the title works really well. The term "guru" originally came from the Sanskrit word for "heavy" or "grave" (from the same Indo-European root as the Latin "gravis") ("guru" OED). It has come to mean "expert" or "authority" in English. In religious traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism, it refers to a spiritual teacher. I want to inflect a little of these meanings. Graduate school is something that requires expertise, but it also requires a sort of spiritual (in the broadest sense of this term) fortitude to make it through. In these blog posts, I will do my best to impart both practical advice and some spiritual (in the broad sense) wisdom that I have gained.

And, just for the sake of old times, here is a picture of the ciabatta that I baked earlier this week:
Ciabatta with 30% Whole Wheat Flour, January 2019

Works Cited
"guru." Oxford Dictionary of English. Ed. Stevenson, Angus. : Oxford University Press, January 01, 2010. Oxford Reference. Date Accessed 23 Jan. 2019