Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Great Grad Student Migration: One Woman's Journey

Two out of four WKU grads have no
idea how to wear their cap.

Well guys, I made it. One bedroom apartment. State College, Pennsylvania. In the five years since living with Rachel and Friends during our undergrad Wonder Years, I haven’t exactly had the best of luck with housing situations. Granted, living in the Chestnut Castle with my best friends really, really set the bar extra high.  Not to say that I’ve suffered through completely horrendous slum lord conditions with outrageous rent prices, but after spending half the time living with my parents and half hopping from place to place in New Mexico, I was absolutely ready for some stability in my own place. And it has been great so far.

I’ve been preparing for this move since getting back from last summer’s European adventures. Finding and getting into a PhD program was my main focus right up until the moment I was accepted back in March. After that, it was one big countdown until the next chapter in my life was ready to begin. And yes, my life chapters do happen to coincide with my academic life stages. I know a lot of you may have just graduated from undergrad, and it’s about time for the great grad student migration. Hopefully, since I made the move a little sooner than most, I can fill you in on what I’ve found to be most helpful during my transition. I started with a little research. First, checking out Rachel’s post from her move last summer, added a few other resources, and I deemed myself ready.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gardening with a Toddler

Editor’s Note: Today will be the first guest blog in STS history!  Both Meridith and I had guest bloggers on our individual blogs, and we love the additional insights added voices give to our topics of discussion.  Those who follow us on Instagram or Tumblr know that I have started a vegetable garden this year, and I have been having a blast.  I’m constantly amazed at how I, a person who presumably knows quite a bit about plants, keep learning new things through this process.  I was discussing this with my friend Christal recently, and we got to talking about how she had started a container garden with her 2-year-old son.  Adorable and educational?  I had to know more, so I asked her to write a post about the experience of gardening with her son, and what she thinks he has gotten out of the activity.  Here is what she shared!  
This kid is totally a STS kindred spirit!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Making Time for Nature

One of my favorite environmental quotations goes as follows:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive...”  ~Edward Abbey*
These are the words of wisdom I try to remind myself of when I am having a moral crisis over what sort of salad dressing to buy at the grocery store (Plastic vs. Glass??  High Fructose Corn Syrup vs. Palm Oil??  Too many decisions!).  While I absolutely want to work as hard as I can to understand and conserve the natural world, I also want to take time to walk around in the woods!  When I am working out in the field, I try and remind myself to stick my toes in the water or gush over a particularly adorable weevil.  This helps keep the balance in my life.  

Lett Lake, Snow Mt. Wilderness Area, 
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a job that requires as much outdoor time as mine does.  Heck, even for those of us that work outside, having unstructured outdoor play time is really important.  Remember, just because you are playing, doesn't mean you aren't learning or growing.  How do you think kids learn?  Through play, naturally.  Playing in nature, whatever play means to you, is a great first step to exploration, questioning, and eventual understanding.  The question becomes, how do we fit hours into our busy schedules for outdoor recreation and soul-feeding fresh air?  I am currently on a quest to answer this question in my own busy life.  In an effort to make it happen, my partner and I (editor’s note: Meridith and her partner, too!) have committed to hiking once a week every week.  The life experiment is set to run for the summer (May thru August).  For us, there are no rules aside from “get outside and walk!”  I’m hoping to see some new places and explore spaces nearby that I have under appreciated or overlooked.  As of today, we have gone on a walk-about all but one of the weeks we intended! Not bad overall, and we are only getting started! Would you like to get your outdoor adventure one?  Here are my strategies for making it happen!
STS Guide to Making Time for Nature

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Finding a Graduate Advisor

This is a question for either of you to answer. Over the course of my last year in school I’ve had the most difficult time finding out how to go about seeking potential (M.S.) advisors for graduate school. Like, I’ve tried looking at schools I would like to go to, and looking at researchers there, but I have had little success in making conclusions when my interests are wide-spread. So, how the hell do I narrow down my interests, and what is a (possibly) better way of finding and approaching potential advisors? I am (mentally) paralyzed.

Thanks, freshlypluckedscientist, for the awesome post request! First off, it’s going to be ok! You are not the only one who has felt like this! I’m also fairly certain that we are not the only two who have felt like this! Rachel and I have both gone through this process twice (M.S. and PhD) and we understand how difficult and frustrating the entire process can be. Both times I tried to get a head start on the process and both times I felt like I was always behind schedule and running out of time! Before I even get started on any suggestions or tips, I’d like to reassure you that it’s completely ok to take a year off to figure things out and generally just chill. I took a year off after undergrad and nearly 2 years off after finishing my M.S. degree. I’m now going to be a few years older than the rest of my cohort, but I am going back fresh and excited and motivated!  Like so many big life decisions, you just have to do you.   
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