Friday, June 17, 2011

Because a BA just ain't enough anymore...

So I'm back to the precarious life of a student.  This time, at the graduate level.

Three years ago, I thought I might be done for good, but after two and a half years in the public sector, six months of travelling, and four months working at a call centre (and thankfully, working at Collectively Beautiful, which legitimately kept me sane), I'm back in the groove.

The familiar territory of student loans, academic registration, first-day jitters, and class attendance came back to me like riding a bike... just not that time in Florida when a palmetto bug landed on me and I wiped out.  I'm definitely riding this bike a lot better than that.

The anticipation for the first day of the Graduate Diploma Program in Journalism at Concordia was excruciating.  I think I messaged my friend and Dip. '09 Alum, Amanda, roughly 18 bazillion times to ask her everything I could think of from how I should dress to what I should expect for workload.  (Thanks again for all your advice, missy!)

In reality, as usual, the first day wasn't so bad.  Actually, the first few days weren't so bad at all.  We had orientation, got to know some of our professors, got lectured on scholarships, bursaries, health services, journalism societies, and the overall expectations for the program.  We found out about internship opportunities, including a summer internship at a local weekly and a fall/winter internship at the CBC.  And for those of us lucky enough to have some money in tha bank, there's even a four to six week internship available at the CBC office in London, England - that is, if you've got the $1,500 for a flight and $1,500+ CAN for a loft in the city for a month, plus money for food and entertainment.  (If you haven't gathered yet, I definitely do not fall into this category.)

So, anyway.  We all got our student IDs, security passes for the Journalism building, and received an extremely thorough orientation to the school, the faculty and the program itself.  From the beginning we'd be warned about the intensity of the program and the level of commitment that was required.  The workload would be extremely heavy and it was suggested that if any of us had jobs that involved having to be at work during specific hours we should probably quit.

We began regular classes on June 9 and got our first three assignments in the next two days.  Within another two days we had two more assignments.  And just as we passed in a few of those we were assigned two more, and then another.  They weren't kidding.

Between interviews (we've each done a minimum of nine so far), classes, writing assignments, researching, writing for Collectively Beautiful and going to bootcamp, I didn't have much time for anything else.  But, when you love what you do, you don't mind committing all of your spare time to those causes.

Thanks to the beautiful summer weather, I've been walking to school almost everyday and my classmates and I have stuck around campus for the most part at lunches, giving us all ample time to socialize and blow off steam in between classes.  A few of us even spared some time outside of class to partake in a little undergraduate style alcohol consumption, which resulted in us receiving a threat from neighbours about the noise level and thus vacating to a nearby park where we proceeded to drink on a gazebo.  Nothing says "bonding" like a little drunken debauchery.

Back to the classes, though.  This semester we're taking Intro to Broadcasting with Bob Babinsky, Intro to Print with Wayne Larsen, and Computer Assisted Reporting with Leo Gervais (no relation to Ricky).  I haven't decided which class is my favourite yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be a tug of war between Wayne's and Bob's.  Computer Assisted Reporting is pretty dry so far (sorry Leo).  On the other hand, Leo does referee in the CFL, has some pretty awesome stories, and makes some pretty hilarious comments about shut-ins named Gladys Poutine who live in Verdun.  (Edit: Leo is also my official prof. homeboy... pound it!)

Needless to say, the faculty this semester are both engaging and entertaining, each having their own individual flare, sense humour, and teaching style.  And to be fair, my classmates, the "Dips" as they're referred to, are of the same variety of high-caliber individuals as well.

The students come from a wide variety of backgrounds - the youngest being those who just completed from their undergraduate degree to the oldest who I believe is 37 and a recent immigrant from Egypt.  Within that range you'll find people of all ages and all histories: world travellers, volunteers, scientists, artists, anthropologists (holla!), writers, jokesters, bloggers, poets and actors.  We have sports, culture, music, and film junkies, advocates, political fanatics, technology freaks and military news hounds.

If you couldn't tell, I think my Dips are the tits.

Although this year is already proving to be a challenge academically, with its extremely steep learning curve, I've got a pretty good lead (HA! Get it?) that we're all going to get through it together.  Whether we're venting to each other at lunch, helping one another out at the lab, or blowing off steam off-campus, I know we've got a solid group that has a real desire to help one another, rather than elbow each other on the way to the top.

Do I think the class will be competition-free?  Of course not.  But it's already proving that it'll be a helluva lot of fun and a lot of laughs.

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