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Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've been struggling with deciding if I want to continue in my graduate degree. Days like yesterday, when I was super happy about the paper I wrote, glad to have it turned in, and feeling like I accomplished something useful, are great. And then there are other days (which seem more numerous as of late) where I feel like I hate what I'm studying, I don't want to be a professor, and the idea of spending the rest of my life doing research and writing papers makes me want to vomit. I haven't like the idea of changing my mind about grad school because it feels like giving up. My mom keeps telling me that it's not giving up, but being in charge of my life, and maybe someday I will be able to help someone else who is going through the same dilemma.

Well, today was someday. 

I had a student come to my office hours to talk about her exam score, and we ended up talking about how she wants to transfer schools instead. She doesn't like the east coast (she's from California and desperately wants to go back there). Her dream school is USC, but if she doesn't get in there she is not sure if she should stay at BU, which has an awesome Communications department and reputation, or if she should transfer to a public school in California with not as good of a reputation for Communications. She was asking me whether experience was more important than the degree or vice versa. She's studying PR, which, admittedly, I know nothing about, but I told her what I could about my experience. We talked about the pros and cons of her situation. I shared my experiences with her and answered her questions. Mostly I just helped her think through things. I told her to just apply to a bunch of different places and opportunities and see what she gets. Talk to professors, talk to everyone you can to get advice - that's something I wish I had done a little more of. When you try everything you possibly can - apply for every job, every program, every study abroad - one of the things you try for will be right. Plus, you'll have tons of options to choose from, and if none of them is right you still have BU. It's like I was telling her exactly what I needed to hear myself - coincidence? I think not.

I got to help a student! Really, legitimately help them. Not just help them understand Aristotle's artistic proofs. That was a fun surprise for my day. And my mom was right - my experience now, as I try to figure out my life, will help others too. I really wanted to tell her to pray about it, ha ha. I am more thankful every day that I have the Gospel to give me direction. Decisions are hard enough with that influence - I can't imagine deciding things without it. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The First Paper

I'm on my way to my Global New Wave Cinema class where I will turn in my first paper of my grad school career. I feel pretty good about how it turned out. It is an analysis of 'Cleo from 5 to 7,' a French New Wave film that I have actually come to love through analyzing it.

It turns out that this is why I am doing this film studies program. I like writing about films. I maybe don't love discussing films with people (unless it is a criticism-free geek fest), but I do love looking deeper into them and finding something more valuable to me. Like I have written before, you can go too deep and forget the value of the thing you're looking at. That's no fun. But with this paper I think I was able to find a balance and do a good job. We will see if my professor agrees when he grades it.

I'm fully expecting to have a day sometime in the next couple of weeks where I get all of my papers back with red marks covering them and comments shredding them, but until that sad day, I will remember how today I am happy. I feel like I am finally learning and being productive, and that is what I like about school. It's weird, but homework really does make me happy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Adventurous Homebody

I am a paradox. Or, rather, an oxymoron. I love being at home. I love just sitting and doing nothing. It's not a lazy kind of sit-and-do-nothing, but rather an introverted kind. I like to think and write and watch the world as it passes by, learning things as I watch.

But then I think that world that's passing looks really fun, so I do things like travel to London with people I've never met, try out to be the school mascot, run for class office, and move to Boston (not always in that order). And then I suffer for it. Sure, it looks like it's fun while it's passing, but it turns out that once you're in it, it's not all fun and games. Sometimes, the crazy (by my standards) things I've done have been the hardest things I have ever done. Right now, with the whole living in Boston thing, I am so far outside my comfort zone that I can't even remember what it's like to be in it anymore. That's an exaggeration. I do remember what it's like, and when I remember it I miss home and start crying. I guess I try not to remember what it's like. 

It's not as though anyone is forcing me to do anything - my parents never demanded that I get involved in my high school or study abroad. No one told me to get straight As. They definitely didn't tell me to go to Boston. All these things were my idea. Why do I do this to myself? 

I guess I know why. It's because the things that are hardest usually turn out to be the most rewarding. Usually. But sometimes I wonder if the price of uncomfortableness outweighs the reward. Everyone will always tell me that it does, but that doesn't stop me from wondering. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

And so it begins...

Since I began grad school, I've felt like I've had too much free time, like I should be busier. Well, little did I know a storm was coming. An ugly, black, wet, exhausting storm.

In the next 2-3 weeks I have 22 papers to grade, two lessons to plan, four eight-page papers to write (that significantly determine my grade in the classes they're for), and all of my regular course work to complete. Plus it's Halloween season.

Yikes. The real bummer of it all is that I'm not even sure I want to study this stuff anymore. Serious lack of motivation.

Pray for me :)

Friday, October 12, 2012


I haven't been a very good blogger since I've been in Boston. I've been keeping a journal, but I haven't put any of it online. I think it's because it's not what anyone who reads this blog or knows me wants to hear. You see, everyone wants me to love being here in Boston and love my program and be having the time of my life. But I'm not.

Clarification: I do love Boston, and I love being here. I love the people I've met and my ward and my roommates. Boston is an awesome city, and I love the opportunities it presents. I've learned so much about myself and my faith in my time here. I feel like I did, in fact, need to come here.

However.... I don't love my program. I thought I would, or rather hoped I would.

You see, in my undergrad I took a few critical studies classes, but they were always mixed with production or screenwriting classes so I never got the full blast of strictly theory all day, every day. I am getting that blast now, and I'm afraid to say I don't enjoy it. Parts of it I like - I like looking deeper into films. I've always enjoyed that. I even like writing papers sometimes.  I never got to take a class on TV theory in my undergrad, and now I get to and I find it fascinating.

I don't enjoy the teaching style here (it may be the same at all film studies Masters programs, I don't know). In my undergrad, my professors would give us a framework to study - tools to use when analyzing films. Things to look for. Jumping off points. Here, it feels so open-ended and without direction that I don't know where to go. Also, I have never had much to say in any of my classes. I learn by listening and observing, and I am not a quick thinker. My papers are good because I have time to consider concepts and ideas and then put them down in my own way. In class, I am expected to contribute meaningfully, and no matter how much I prepare it seems as though I have nothing intelligent to say. If I do, someone says it before I get the chance. Then I try to make up for it and I say some gobbledegook that has no relevance. My professors just look at me, trying to understand what I am saying, their brows furrowed. They usually just nod after I speak and move on to a different topic.

I have felt like such an idiot in the past month. I know I'm not an idiot generally, but compared to some of these people here, I am an idiot. The other day, another critical studies student came up to me and told me how his mind was blown by some theory that our professor mentioned in Superheroes class and that's all he could think of while we watched The Dark Knight. I had no idea what he was talking about! I didn't even remember hearing our professor mention that theory, and I had no idea what the theory even was! I still can't remember what it was even called. The same student told me what movies were showing at some theaters nearby (we're supposed to get out and watch films at certain venues each month). He mentioned the directors like I should know who they were, and perhaps I should, but I didn't. I, once again, felt ignorant. TV theory is filled with kids who spend, I kid you not, ALL of their time watching TV. They must, with all the shows they keep up with and have kept up with in the past. I know nothing compared to them.

That's when I realized that I don't love film like these people do. They crave tearing it apart with different theories and watching obscure films and I, frankly, just like watching movies. I like knowing the history - the cultural context, how they came to be, etc. But in the end, they're just movies. They're meant to entertain, to inform, to educate, to create meaning, perhaps even to change lives (my life has been changed by certain movies) - but not to be over-thought and torn apart and chewed up until nothing is left but a mass of gooey celluloid that no longer means anything to anyone. I feel like all the joy is sucked out of movies in these classes. I don't find joy the same way these people do.

I don't know, maybe I'm just exhausted by more theory than I've even had to handle before. I guess I was just hoping for other movie goers like me to be here. It may be that there aren't any other movie goers like me anywhere.