Orientation was actually prior to the start of the week on the afternoon of Sept. 2, as mentioned in my last post. The department's orientation followed the basically universal pattern of orientation = food + information overload + new names to learn. We were fed pizza and discussed everything from where our mailboxes are located to course specific degree requirements for getting a PhD to the forms and oral exams I can "look forward to" in the future (QUALS...ewww). After the group orientation meeting, each new incoming student had an "entrance interview." We met with the department's graduate program coordinator, our adviser, and at least one additional faculty member to discuss any coursework deficiencies from our previous education, to clarify any additional degree requirements to be added on an individual basis, and to plan out the courses we would take this semester. I would say mine went pretty smoothly- no course deficiencies or added degree requirements and a consensus on the courses that I should take now and recommendations for future semesters.
Classes started on Tuesday, Sept. 6. I am taking two classes this semester- the graduate section of Geochemistry and a Quantitative Modeling Methods course, which is one of two courses required for all Geology grad. students. I also have to begin learning all of the required lab skills associated with column chemistry, working in a clean lab, sample preparation, and TIMS operation (future blog topics!). I have been told it will be a good two to three years before I am truly self-sufficient in the lab and understand the intricacies of the process. That's pretty intimidating! Especially when you also consider that one of my main research goals is to develop an entirely new method that no one can teach me..because it doesn't exist yet!
This week mainly consisted of starting observations of others running the TIMS, beginning classes, safety training, getting an office (another future blog topic), meeting LOTS of new people, asking lots of questions, and trying to figure out what in the world I am supposed to be doing while surrounded by a crowd of busy grad. students who all seem to know what's going on.
Bonus City Life #1:
You never know exactly what you're gonna see when living in the city. This is what happens when smoke is pouring out of the top floor of a building along Comm Ave!
|Fire engines with ladders up blocking Comm. Ave.|