Grad School: First Semester in Retrospect

Hey everyone!

It's been awhile since my last post and I've found it a little difficult to get back to writing. My last day of class was two weeks ago, and since then I've been back home in Ottawa shifting between relaxing and feeling stir-crazy. I do need the break though. I feel a bit numbed from the experience of tackling grad school these past three months, which is likely from the stress of getting settled in a new city and getting used to the heavy workload.

I think the most detrimental thing I experienced as a new grad student was impostor syndrome. I didn't even know the name of it until October, but as I started school in September I slowly became overwhelmed with the feeling that I wasn't as smart or dedicated as other students. There is a lot more interaction with professors at the graduate level, and I started to worry about how I was being perceived. I became overly concerned that I would eventually disappoint my adviser and, as usual, I fell into a bad habit of over-analyzing everything.

It wasn't until I went to a friend's potluck in October that I found out what I was feeling was actually something psychological and common for graduate students. I got to meet several students who were just finishing their master's in applied mathematics. After telling them how overwhelmed I was feeling, they all agreed that it sounded like impostor syndrome and assured me it was common. What a crazy world academia is! Students are stuck wallowing in their feelings of defeat and failure before they really dive into their studies. Hopefully this is something I can overcome in the next semester as my confidence builds.

I'm not sure how I feel about Vancouver yet. All in all, it's just a very big city with a lot of sprawl. I've come to realize that I prefer smaller cities, especially ones where natural areas and hikes are a lot more accessible. I was getting a little impatient and annoyed with Vancouver by the end of my semester, and I'm hopeful that if I start exploring more and expanding my social circle things will get better. It's a bit tantalizing to be in a province full of nature while also being limited to a large, sprawling city of concrete. Maybe in the summer I'll try to rent a car every few weeks and get out of the city and take advantage of British Columbia.

Although I failed to stay on top of blogging this semester, I did do a good job at remaining active. Besides the cold I got when I first moved to BC (which I still blame on the different germ pool) I didn't get sick at all. I also frequented the campus gym and even got back in the squat rack! Saturday mornings are women's hours from 8:30 to 10:00, so I would go almost ever week and use all the heavy weights that are usually hogged by men.

So, that's about it for this long update. The rest of the month I plan to spend with friends and family, and hopefully getting prepared for the coming semester. I have a lot of work to do with organizing files on my computer, so you may be seeing some old photographs that never made it to my blog.

I hope you've all been well! I really have missed having this as my outlet and intend to use it next semester when things start getting hectic again.

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