Monday, April 4, 2016

Childlike Wonder in Grad School

Today is my first day back to grad school (hoorah!) but my class doesn't technically begin until tomorrow so I have time for a quick blog post. ;)

Did y'all have book mobiles growing up? I did. I loved the day the book mobile came to my (public) elementary school. While we had a school library, there was something special about the book mobile. I used to get a thrill out of waiting in line and then trying to come up with at least one book to check-out in the 5-10 minute time limit we got. It was an exciting challenge that led to an even more exciting adventure.

How about catalog cards? Does anyone remember those? I loved having to go to the physical library catalog, look up the author by surname on those little cards, then look for the number where the book was located, and finally try to find the book. It was another fun adventure; a scavenger hunt for great treasure.

This quarter I'm taking a class called Historical Books of the Old Testament. It's about, you guessed it, historical books in the Old Testament. From Joshua to Maccabees, I'm going to be studying them for the next 10 weeks. Of course, there is no obvious connection between the two examples I gave and the course. I mean, besides being about books. However, there is one for me: having this course after a 3.5 month break and having the fruitful Lenten season I had has reminded me of little elementary school Emmy and how I miss a side of myself that I haven't seen in nearly two decades.

What was I like as a child? I loved the faith. I wanted to be a nun when I grew up and I would say that to people. I loved attending Mass; I was mesmerized by it, especially the Consecration. Remember, this is me at like 6-8 years old and I was poorly catechized so I didn't know the real significance of what was happening. I just remember not wanting to miss a single thing the priest did during that part of the Mass. I also loved school. I mean, I loved school. I would cry if my parents made me miss a class (and I only did when I was too sick to attend; yes, I would try to go to school even when I was sick). I loved reading, history, science... I just loved academia.

Sadly, I lost a big part of that love (for both the church and school) when I got older. My parents were Catholics by name only and after my First Communion was done, we basically stopped attending Mass. I was teased for being a "geek" at school. I can pinpoint it to junior high -- 7th grade in particular -- when I started to slack off in my studies. It created horrible habits, including one that I still struggle with: procrastination. A few days ago I remembered how much I loved studying but how I tend to procrastinate because I find other things to do. Okay, fine, I get lost in the world of social media and movies, etc. Procrastination + distractions = rushing to get my coursework done. Yes, I can pull a Rory Gilmore and study like a madwoman but it's usually last minute. Read: stress levels through the roof most of the time.

Since I have done some great progress in my recovery (no longer underweight, eating, and sleeping better), I decided to do channel little Emmy and get back into that academic groove I used to be known for. It doesn't hurt that I'm combining two things I loved as a child: the faith and academia. Hooray for Biblical Theology graduate studies! lol. I know it won't be easy or even the same since I'm now older and (obviously) using different tools (i.e. internet, computers) that I didn't have back then but I think this will help me this quarter.

I've been doing the Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati novena (his birthday is coming up on Wednesday) and I've been asking him to intercede for me in regards to distractions (which result in procrastination) and lack of concentration. My concentration is shot even when I'm doing something simple; that bad. I think I have the tools necessary to curve the social media distractions (hello, Lenten practice!) and I think I've figured out times when I'd be able to get the most out of my studies (read: quiet times in an apartment building) but I still need that extra help so Bl. Pier Giorgio is getting bugged now and the Holy Spirit will get bugged afterward. lol.

I wonder if my plan to have a childlike wonder in grad school will help. When I was younger, I'd ask questions about something I didn't understand or wanted to know more about because I was curious. I stopped because of the teasing and because I didn't want people to think I was dumb. Nowadays, I don't really care too much about looking dumb so I ask. I'm going to try it again. I hope that between this state of mind, the toolbox for studying I've created (classical music and/or Gregorian chants, Pomodoro technique app, specific schedule, etc), and reminding myself of what my goal is (graduating in two years with knowledge to help others learn more about the Church) I will do well. Maybe I'll even treat myself to trips to the library every now and then to check-out physical books as rewards for a good exam or a good week. Yes, I'm enough of a "geek" to really see that as a gift to myself. ;)

Anyway, I don't know why I wanted to share this... I just did. ;) Maybe it's the excitement of starting classes again. Perhaps it's a way to remind myself and keep myself accountable. Both? We shall see. :D

Alright, I'm trying to get to bed as early as 10 p.m. (seriously) so I can get enough sleep and then get up early to study for the first class begins. Technically we online students aren't getting the lecture video until Wednesday, I believe, but I want to get as much done (read: get ahead a little if I'm able to) as I can. I want to savor everything and since it is just one course this quarter, I think I may have the luxury to do just that. I don't want to be rushing through the reading last minute like I have been doing for years. Yes, years. Don't try this (procrastinating) at home... not even you professionals. ;)

I hope those of you who are also starting their quarters have a great quarter. For those of you about to do your finals, good luck! I'll be praying for all you students. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :D


AnneMarie said...

This is such a cool perspective :) And yes!!!! Physical library card catalogs are really cool. I love how handy computer searches are, but it really doesn't compare to actually looking through all of the cards and finding the book you want.

Emmy Cecilia said...

I miss those card catalogs. I geeked out when I went to L.A.'s Central Library and saw that they still had them. They aren't used but they're still there.