Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 2: Weighing My Options or Pick a Buddy & Stick With Him

So, this is not REALLY day 2 of being a graduate student, but for the sake of organization, it's easier to keep track of the number of classes I've been to.

Today was my orientation for Mills MPP. It was great seeing old friends and new colleagues. We did an icebreaker which consisted of explaining what made each of us embark on this journey we call Public Policy. I talked about how I seek to increase accessibility for non-auto users. I even warned them that bicycles would be a regular topic with me. After the ice-breaker, there were faculty and staff introductions, along with explanations of the classes in the curriculum. Probably my favorite speech was Dan Ryan's, about how the grading works in MPP but more importantly, how grades don't really matter. It confirmed what I knew all along and how I've been living the last four years during school-- that the grades don't matter, as long as I understand the material.

It was informative, but all-in-all, I could have gotten away with skipping it and instead spend the time reading for Transportation & Land Use Planning ("TLUP" or 213). At the break when everyone was heading to the barbecue, I had to head over to the M Center to pick up my cross-registration paperwork. Monk was there, so we chatted a bit while we waited to be called. When it was my turn and I explained I was picking up paperwork, I nearly shit a brick when the lady tried to tell me it would be TWO business days. I calmly told her that her information was incorrect and that her colleague was explicit about a 12pm pick-up. She checked the file folder again and found it. Certainly a relief, but it reinforces that the M Center* and the bureaucracy needs some serious reformation.

I got in the car and headed home to make some lunch & swap out papers, books, and other necessities. I'm in the process of getting back into the groove of things, which normally happens pretty quickly, but since I'm taking classes at two separate institutions, there's a bit of a trial period to see what works and what doesn't. Already, I have found a route to Cal that I much prefer and will better serve me, even when I'm running behind schedule. Today found me riding through Temescal, past the Claremont DMV, and catching College Avenue at Rockridge, all the way into Upper campus. Fifteen minutes, door-to-bike-rack. I'll start Strava-ing it next week, so I can track my training.

Now that I know about Berkeley time, I can better manage my time before class. I spent today sitting on a bench beneath a tree, trying to skim the readings in time for class. Not beneficial whatsoever, I got a zero on the reading quiz. Luckily, Chatman drops the two lowest grades. Not that excuses really matter (or get you anywhere) in grad school, but even in expediting all my books when I ordered them 10 days ago, I still haven't gotten many of them in. Thus, some classes I just won't be able to read for at the moment.

But not all was bad! Being the witty, charming woman that I am, I struck up conversation with a man I had noticed the previous class, sitting just two seats down from me. Good small talk about our interests and getting to know one another. Best part: we're study-buddies! Or, somewhat. For now, Daniel is hooking me up with notes for the classes that I will miss this month due to travel. As far as I'm concerned, he is a godsend. In addition to that, Chatman and the GSI (Carrie) are posting the lectures on bSpace. So even if Daniel ends up missing a class, we're both covered. Lecture was great (as expected) and my paperwork got signed! We'll just have to see if the M Center can't fuck up this one too.

With class done for the day, I cruised down to work to see if I had any other books delivered. After I had a textbook stolen off my porch last fall, I decided I wasn't taking any chances and have since sent all books and other ordered material to work. Even if I'm not there often anymore, it still gives me peace of mind and a sense of security. No books arrived, so I don't have to feel so guilty about not reading for my classes tomorrow. I think I can safely go to the 'Premium Rush' dinner and viewing with the gang tonight.

For now, I will finish getting ready for classes tomorrow, before I roll over to Emeryville for dinner and the movie. It's truly my last night of freedom for a LONG time, so what better way to spend it than heckling the hell out of a movie that will probably serve to spark the interest of people and encourage them to get a bike. Let's just hope that these people who jump on the trend don't go and make the rest of us look like a-holes.

Until tomorrow!

*For those of you unfamiliar with Mills, the M Center is the registrar office and is responsible for pretty much EVERY piece of paperwork for every single student that is enrolled at Mills. It is notorious for long lines, crappy hours, and losing all sorts of paperwork, which often sends each of us into a tizzy and into a dinnertime tirade of how we could do a better job of running the M Center.

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