September is here and we all know what that means, huge lines at Second Cup (and everywhere else)! Being a grad student in the lab all year round, you really see a different side of McGill over the summer. The majority of the undergraduate students are gone and we kind of have the campus to ourselves. The pace is a bit slower, there are fewer people around and there is no one between me and my coffee in the morning. Plus Montreal in the summer is so much fun! There are so many fun things to do; outdoor festivals, biking by the canal, drinks on a terrasse, picnics on the mountain and so much more.
But as summer ends, the fall semester begins and that brings its own joys. Like Sophie so precisely put, September is Academic New Year. Grad school can be a grind, especially if you’ve been here as long as I have, but I find a little bit of optimism can go a long way. For me, September is yet another chance to re-dedicate myself to my work and get back into a productive work flow. By looking forward to all the things I will (hopefully!) accomplish, I can find the motivation to push on. But just like the real New Year, September also marks the end of another academic year and can cause me to be somewhat reflective on my PhD so far, thinking about where all the years have gone.
As I watched all the frosh groups on campus this last week I was both a little nostalgic for my first year of undergrad and also pretty happy that it’s behind me. I’m almost finished my PhD, so frosh was a million years ago for me (or more accurately over a decade ago) but I remember the thrill of moving into residence and the optimism about all that university would mean for me and my future. I’ve grown far too much to wish to be the same person I was back then, but the exciting possibilities of interesting classes and new friends, I miss that feeling. The stress of a new place, the work load associated with lectures and lab, the new found responsibility of having to feed and clothe myself, the eerie specter of future exams, those things I miss less.
In my own way, I’m looking forward to the new school year. I’m making a push towards graduation this year, so you can look forward to blog posts about thesis writing and defense stress along with more posts about career development and post-grad school plans. September is also when all my extra-curriculars start back up. I’m looking forward to seeing my Girl Guides again and my PGSA, BGSS, is more active during the year. Plus I’m TA-ing again this year. I always like meeting my new batch of students and getting to know them over the semester. As I’ve mentioned before, you can learn a lot from the undergrads. So stress and excitement co-mingle, as they so often do, as I start filling in my calendar.
As September starts off, I’d like to say welcome, welcome back or it’s still good to see you, to all the students here at McGill. It’s a new semester, full of possibilities, and I’m excited to see what happens!
Banner Photo by McGill Instagrammer @kipunsam.daily // @gradlifemcgill