Graduate School II

Class Session on Manuscripts
Held in Rare Books Room
September 22, 2013

So much has changed. I have a new apartment; a new commute; entirely new classmates and instructors; and a new, long-term, trajectory having just started graduate school in a city I've just moved to. How do I feel three weeks into my new life?

Things are all so good...

I ride my bicycle along Canal Lachine into downtown Montréal the mornings I have to be on campus. I follow a bicycle trail paralleling the south bank. The only unpleasant stretch is pedaling up heavily-trafficked Avenue Atwater. That's a steep ascent uphill until I hit Rue de Maisoneuve along which a cycle track routes me almost up to the university gates. I try to view going up Atwater as regular exercise I wouldn't otherwise get. It's certainly a great way to wake myself up and ensure that I'm alert and energized before arriving into the university.

My advisor, other faculty members, and the departmental administrative support staff are all extremely welcoming and helpful. I feel like I've landed in a community of friends. The students in my language classes aren't as tight-knit (lots of younger undergraduate students) but, fortunately, all my fellow incoming graduate students are enrolled alongside me in a weekly Research Materials course. Some of us have begun to bond, meeting up off-campus for purely social reasons. Things feel like they're gelling together.

Going out and getting to discover the city of Montréal is a lot of fun. Friday evening, Professor Gwen and I attended a documentary screening on campus. Afterwards, she introduced me to a Chinese restaurant that put me right back to days living in China with their spot-on dumplings, spicy mapo tofu, and authentic ambience. After living in the relative backwater of Québec City for the past year-and-a-half--love that town as I might--it's exciting to imagine what-all will be on offer in my new, much larger home for the next several years out.

My apartment is what I wanted it to be. It's nothing fancy and I'll probably move somewhere closer to campus between terms. But, it was a good place to land. It came completely furnished with all the utilities and Internet access thrown in at a cheap, monthly price. The immediate neighborhood is mostly residential, though it's easy biking distance to markets, libraries, and any other need or distraction I might seek out. To retain what I spent my last year-and-a-half pursuing, I speak in French the times I'm in any common area with my roommates. I chat most often with one of the guys renting out another of the rooms, Giles, an outgoing and easygoing Québecois who will return to university study himself this month, too.

Classwork is keeping my hours full. My advisor and I have been talking in more concrete details about my proposed thesis topic. I haven't even had any tests yet or had to submit any papers. I know that my life will just become busier and busier. But, it feels like a steady uphill grade that I can take on rather than getting slammed all at once.

There is just one minor, complaint I could make. It's in the way they announce final exams at McGill. I don't understand why the finals schedule can't be published at the same time as the registration schedule. "No, nobody will know when the exam dates will be until mid-October or maybe November," my professors and the departmental support staff have all told me. What? Really? Why?

This announcement yet in future tense means that I still don't know when my final exams will be. Frustratingly, I have just one test slated over this post-course examination schedule. That could fall anywhere between December 5 and 18. I've been hoping to book a ticket back to Seattle to see family over the break between semesters. But, I can't schedule any advance itinerary that might offer a better fare until I know just when that exam will be scheduled.

Oh well. It all works out in the end. I always figure some way to make everything come together. I certainly can't complain, given how smoothly everything else has gone with the start of my graduate study and move to Montréal.

Life goes well.