School’s been in for exactly a month now. I don’t want to jinx things, but it hasn’t been nearly as stressful as I’d imagined it would be. My apartment is finally set up entirely and starting to feel like home. I’ve got bookcases that I built (well, I sanded and stained them myself) all packed with my books, I’ve got furniture that I actually picked out myself and paid for, and I’ve even got art on the walls. Admittedly, some of it keeps falling down because apparently command strips don’t like to stick to painted concrete it when it rains, but I’m getting that figured out as it goes. Catie is settling into daycare and making friends. She’s loving exploring the town with me; we hopped on the bus with a map on Monday and explored the area near campus together. I’m finding lots of fun nooks and crannies on campus to camp out for an hour or two when I’m tired of being in the windowless lab. My favorite places so far include 1) the southern edge of Old Main Hill, 2) the courtyard in the Biology building, and 3) the benches overlooking the Quad from the north. This campus is just so beautiful that it’s actually hard to narrow it down to just three places. If my laptop functioned properly I’d spend all day outside on some patch of lawn. It’s starting to get pretty cold at night now though; we’ve even seen some snow on the peaks on either side of the valley. Apparently winter is fast approaching already. It’s a pretty far cry from Florida, where I hear weather is still somewhere in the high nineties. I’m thrilled to be in flannel in fall for once.
Apart from feeling utterly confused and information-inundated in Neuro most of the time, I feel pretty comfortable with everything that’s been going on so far. I’ve been grading quizzes and papers (so many papers…) for the classes I’m TAing, and gradually easing into lab activities. My primary activity in the lab so far has been writing a proposal for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program or GRFP. I wrote a half-baked proposal last year but I obviously wasn’t successful. This year I’m reworking it into what I hope is a truly competitive entry. Even if I don’t get the GRFP grant, my PI thinks it’d be a good experiment to go forward with, one that might lead to bigger projects and even be a stepping stone towards my second year project and dissertation. The basic premise is that the kids in Utah’s dual language immersion classrooms will have better math scores and more advanced numerical cognition skills than those in “standard” classrooms. There’s piles of reasons why I think that but I’m not going to spill just yet until I’ve had a chance to submit my proposal in late October. I’m confident in this one.