Week 5 – The Halfway Point
October 3, 2011

Well, tomorrow begins week 5 of the quarter and, shockingly, the halfway point! I can’t believe how much time has already passed; I certainly miss semesters, if only because I’m used to the pace. Every day I’m feeling more like an adult. I haven’t decided if I like or hate this particular feeling, but it certainly is different.

Work – My RD job continues to be fulfilling. Despite some frustrations and a few setbacks, the quarter is progressing moderately well in our building. I’m still trying hard to teach my staff to be intentional with the time they spend with their residents, but I’ve had to add in a new expectation of sorts each week. Our first few weeks went by without barely any organized activities whatsoever. Hopefully we can keep building them in and give our residents an opportunity to do something other than go uptown on the weekends. I’m also planning to host a few activities myself to help offer more to our students. Hall Council is struggling, but we have our third meeting tonight and I think I’ve developed a better role as an advisor. The first week I ran the meeting and the second I turned everything over to our President and VP, forgetting that not everyone at OU has run an organization before. Now I’m planning to step in and help a bit more than I originally expected. They need some time to get on their feet and see how to facilitate conversations from some role models as they try and do so on their own.

My time on the paraprofessional recruitment team has been fabulous so far. We’re developing our advertising campaign as well as our timeline for the RA application process. What I’m most excited about though is our potential to completely revamp the interview structure here at OU. In the past staff has been evaluated on interview skills and professionalism that I believe we’re going to radically change this year. I’m really appreciating everyone’s input and their willingness to listen to my experiences from Cal and see that this can be a very positive change in the process. I can’t even imagine how amazing it will be as we continue working with the team throughout the year.

School – Two of my classes are absolutely fantastic this quarter – Intro to Student Affairs and Intro to Student Development. I feel like I’m really engaging with my peers and with our professors, and the two papers that I’ve written so far have been interesting and fun to work on. This week I’m doing a practitioner interview with one of the RCs to learn how he incorporates theory into practice, as well as working on a group presentation on Women’s Centers at universities across the country. Unfortunately the lecture portion of my Counseling Techniques class hasn’t been quite as fulfilling…we gave our professor feedback last week and now we feel she’s headed down the passive-aggressive path. Luckily the lab section, where we videotape ourselves counseling a partner, has been rather useful in honing some of my skills. As long as I can trudge painfully through our lecture and get a decent grade, I think I’ll be content.

The Cohort – I’ve had an interesting time figuring out how I feel about our first year cohort. It seems that we’re already separating into cliques (not terribly surprising since we have 29 people now). Unfortunately, I’m not feeling too much like I fit in anywhere. We have a large portion of our cohort who is the drinking-a-lot-at-bars and party type, and that’s just not me. Sometimes I feel that they’re generally immature in disrupting class and such and other times, I think we just have very different personalities. The quieter, low-key folks in the cohort have very different schedules from me, so we haven’t had an opportunity to spend much time with each other yet. On the other hand, I attended some events with my partner’s cohort at OSU and I really enjoyed their company. I think it was a combination of having more to do, a more diverse group, and feeling like I was actually included in their activities. It was nice to have people listen to what I have to say; I felt like my stories were valued in the group, something I haven’t felt as much here.

I’m trying to stay positive and remember that I’m growing quite close with folks in the housing department, and that I can focus on school and work if I choose to. I don’t particularly want to fret over missed connections to folks I don’t particularly feel a strong affinity towards anyway. We’ll see how the rest of the year goes, but I’m going to try hard not to let it get to me.

Personal Stuff – Overall, I’ve mostly been trying to handle living with my partner. It’s complicated living with another person and honestly, I’m pretty exhausted from it. We have to agree on when to get groceries, who’s going out when, where the car is, and what we’re eating for dinner. Sometimes I’d rather just be on my own and deal with my own schedule only. Luckily for both of us, M is moving out in the next week or two. He’ll be much, much closer to school and I will have some breathing room to myself. There’s another load of stress about buying out his half of the car, but we’ll get it sorted out.

Speaking of the car, it essentially died on me yesterday. We were on the highway in Columbus and all of the electrical systems shut down – I had no windshield wipers, defroster, signals, lights, anything. Luckily we found a neighborhood auto shop to pull into and then as soon as I put the car in park it crapped out. We ended up having to pay for a new alternator to be put in, but everything seems okay now.

Overall – I’ve been feeling much better (despite getting a cold) about my work-class-life balance this last week or so. I’m also realizing that OU probably wasn’t the best choice of school for me. It’s nice not to be as stressed out about class, but I think I should have paid more attention to the camaraderie I felt with the folks I met at IU. It’s hard not having the support group here that I wanted, but I can remember that I’ll only be here two years anyway. It’ll be a nice experience, I’ll get to leave my mark, and I can move on to a bigger city where I think I’ll feel more comfortable. I’m thinking Boston, perhaps. And maybe, like Berkeley, I’ll find my love for Athens in my second year. It just might be that I need all of that time to settle in.

I’ll be sure to write more and give you all updates and thoughts as they come along! I’ve started jotting ideas down in my notebook so I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say. Catch you next time!

Week One Paraprofessional Training
August 28, 2011

It was quite amazing. We spent time getting back to the basics, learning about diversity issues and their intersection with humor, spiritual development, conflict resolution, and confrontation. I got to experience my first Behind Closed Doors from the side of an RD, helping facilitate discussion with three of my staff members about their roles as an RA in crisis situations. They all did a fantastic job, and it gave me an opportunity to witness some of their strengths and weaknesses in that area.

We really bonded as a staff this week, even if we couldn’t have everyone there for every day. We learned personal things about each other, discussed True Colours and who leans towards the side of sarcasm in a game of Apples to Apples. We taught each other new games, played Sardines, and met staff members from all the way across campus. Yesterday we had a retreat day and all went to see The Help. I was first-off impressed that my staff decided they wanted to see the film, as it was generally much more serious and thought-provoking than most of the others currently out. It addressed a lot of the diversity issues we’ve been discussing and was also really well done. Everyone said they had a fantastic time, and a few of us played some games when we got back as well.

I definitely feel like I’m fitting in here. Even though I’m missing the city and the Asian cuisine of Berkeley, I’m beginning to find my place here as well. I’ve gotten better at finding my way around both walking and driving, and I now know where some of the buildings are on campus. I really think these are going to be some amazing two years. I can’t wait to tell you all about classes once they start on the 6th…though Wednesdays are going to be tough for sure. We have one class 1-4 and another 4-7. Six hours of class in a row! I’ll be needing to bring food with me, no doubt about it.

End of Training Week 2
August 14, 2011

This weekend marks the end of training week 2, and also the end of prof. staff training. Monday is a work day, Tuesday we have some departmental meetings and things, and Wednesday the ARAs get here. The current plan is for a bunch of the new staff (and some second year grads) to get together Monday and organize our in-hall materials, figure out what we still need to do, and generally get ourselves prepared for the arrival of our RAs.

In just these two weeks, I feel like I’m starting to settle in here. I have a better grasp of campus, I’ve taken the car for a spin around town, and I’m almost finished completely cleaning and re-organizing my office. I have a to-do list that I’m keeping up with and things in the apartment are getting settled down and organized as we go along. I had a great supervision last night in which my RC and I discussed my goals for the year; I’m currently working on getting them well-worded so they are actually track-able. We also had a great conversation about the new Educational Initiatives model that is replacing the old programming model. It was a good chance for us to both discuss how we planned on implementing certain pieces of the new model and how we planned to integrate traditional programming into it. It was a great chance for us both to bounce ideas off of one another.

I also e-mailed my RAs yesterday to introduce myself and tell them how excited I am for them to get here. I really want to make a good first impression on them, especially since many of them will be close to my age. It’s nice that most of the other new RDs recently graduated as well, and some of them were actually ARAs and SRAs here at OU.

I expect I’ll be feeling much better once my office is finished and I plow through some of the larger, scarier items on my to-do list. I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes.

In other non-student-affairs-related news, pretty much nothing else has been going on. Training has essentially been 9-5 so M and I have been spending the evenings watching South Park. We played DDR one night which was a lot of fun, and a few nights we went to get groceries. The second year grads also had the new folks over for a barbeque which was awesome.

I’ll keep you up to date on this week’s happenings! Don’t forget to comment, ask me any burning questions, and I’ll see you next week 🙂