And the summer ends...


One jar of Nutella, several bags of peanut butter and chocolate candy (e.g., Ghiradelli Milk + PB, PB M&Ms), Lays chips and Stax, peanut butter, popsicles.

Four MAJOR horrifying zits.

Nine hours over three days.

Three papers. Twenty pages. Only a list of readings.

Six ear plugs. Four bobby pins.

A handful of freak-outs and wanting-to-chicken-outs.

A recipe for the preliminary exam.

This is post-prelims Natalie blogging from hot, hot Davis, California. I can see stuff in the future. Things like thesis, Halloween, teaching, November birthdays (my mom, Sean, me, then Wes!), Sarah's wedding, Thanksgiving, Christmas. 2012.

So... what was it like, you ask? Well, this is how studying went:

I had several hundred notecards, which I studied then made into three outlines. One for Development in Infancy through Early Childhood, one for Development in Middle Childhood and Adolescence, and one for Development in Aging and Adulthood. The full outlines were about 60 pages, all inclusive. I then created shortened outlines, around 45 pages. I had to shrink one of them down to size, and they were then about 35 pages. I took thousands of pages of information and made them into bite-sized pieces. Even then, it was almost too much to chew.

But... it happened. All of that stuff got into my brain. It was miraculous. I survived. I hope.


I am so, so thankful for everyone that supported me through it! Clinton, one of my fellow prelimers, posted this quote a few weeks before the exam...

"Pain and suffering devastate even the most resilient of organisms. We cannot avoid it... it was a lie, perhaps the lie of inexperience, that we ever thought we could avoid it. You see, experience and knowledge will show us that life is a long, dark, indifferent road full of anxiety and despair. But experience and knowledge also show us that we can light up this dark road... we are not helpless to its control... but it is up to us. The light is not there... and as we light it up for ourselves we also light it up for everyone else. You'll be surprised how many lights have been put up along the way."

I was surprised, and grateful, for all the lights put up along the way. Stephanie gave me her notes and outlines from the previous years, which helped fill in some gaps and give me ideas for how to study. She also kept me from chickening-out. All of my fellow prelimers helped me get organized, especially Erik who set up a system for sharing articles on dropbox. Teri, Andrew, and Adrienne encouraged me to take the exam this year, and not delay it another. So many people, fellow grad students (like Katie, April, and others) were so supportive and sweet. Nicole even went so far as to buy me a children's book about a sweet little bunny who charms the socks of a cat, for pre-sleep reading. April and Lisa went well out of their way to bake me gluten-free treats on the days of the exam. And Caitlin and Evan invited me over for a wonderful study retreat in Palo Alto.

The day before the exam, my mom sent me a few photos of some tiny pigs (one of those silly, inside jokes!) cheering me on from Salt Lake.

Nothing can help my confidence more than a couple of sweet swine cheering me on. :-D Except, perhaps, the pre-prelim phone calls from my sisters and Taylor.

And, of course, my amazing, sweet boyfriend, who greeted me after the first day at the door with peanut butter M&Ms, a smile, and a big hug. Back rubs and pep talks, tasty food, and open ears. Clean dishes. A bed all made to relax on. What can I say? I love him. Dare I say... he made it almost... fun?! We certainly had hilarious adventures in the afternoons when he did a kick butt job of entertaining and distracting me from the exam.

...We most definitely got our hands on some Dr Pepper Ten (IT'S NOT FOR WOMEN!)

This is my most masculine, intimidating look.
The best news is... it's over! YAY!

And thus the summer ends.

Today was orientation for new MS and PhD students. It was fun to see everyone again, enjoy tasty food, and chat about prelims and get to know the new students a little better. It's so exciting to have a new cohort but it's also bizarre that this is my third year at Davis... feeling kind of old!

Anywho, the quarter begins on Thursday, and I begin teaching(!) on Friday. I'm excited to get to know my students, especially to work with the few that are as passionate about research as me. I'm also excited to finish up my thesis, I will have turned it in before my birthday, so as to mark that special item off my list!

And now to enjoy two guiltless days off. :-)

3 remarks:

Cindy said...

Congratulations on another milestone in your remarkable journey. I am so grateful for all those bearing light in your life! Hooray!

Misty said...

A big YAY!!! Congrats on getting it over with, enjoy your 2 days!

Cindy said...