Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reflections on U of M, FYC and Minnesota

Well I have now successfully completed my first semester as a doctoral student at the U of M. I am overwhelmed with all the blessings I have encountered in my first semester. I absolutely LOVE the program I am in. Being in an Education program has been a challenge (as it is completely new content for me) but I have loved it. My favorite class was "Critical Examination of Curriculum in Context" because it really challenged me and introduced a variety of new concepts that I found fascinating (such as : critical pedagogy, hegemony, heteronormativity, meritocracy, and many others). It had an intense reading load (probably averaged 125-150 pgs of reading per week) but really gave me an opportunity to assess schooling and education in our society through a critical lens and has really re-shaped my view of education (it is likely many of my posts down the road will address these issues).

The faculty I have had the opportunity to work with have been amazing. I have found great mentors in Mary (my boss for my Extension assisstantship) and Susan (my major professor and boss for my Parent Ed assisstantship). All the faculty have been so welcoming and expressed how glad they are that I am here. I am very excited to begin classes next semester (well after a much needed winter break anyway). Lisa (one of the youth faculty) and Jerry (a community faculty) will be instructing the two courses I am enrolled in for next semester. I have been very involved with the faculty in family and am looking forward to courses with the youth and community perspective.

I have also been amazed how quickly and relatively easily I have acquired great friends up here. Believe it or not, in high school I was quite shy (in fact I have been told that people thought I was stuck up because of it). I have become more outgoing through college and mostly through my experience in my master's program at K-State. I think a lot of it can be attributed to an understanding of myself and others as well as an increase in my self-confidence compared to how I felt in HS and college. Regardless, I am blessed that I now have two roommates with whom I have a lot in common and a lot of fun. I have my group of FYC/Family Social Science girls who are an absolute blast! Not sure what I would do without them. The semester would not have been near as fun. And I have met some people in classes who are in different programs or tracks than me and am looking forward to spending some "out of class time" with them this Sunday (Gemma & Jason) and Monday (Sophia and Amanda).

I found a great church (in fact it was the first church I attended up here) that I really enjoy. I still miss University Christian Church in Manhattan, but I really feel that the mission of Grace Church Roseville alligns with my own beliefs. Pastor Jason does a really nice job of presenting God's word in a new way that really allows me to see things in a new perspective. I am so blessed that I have found a place that encourage me to "take one step closer" to Christ each day.

I also LOVE the twin cities! There is so much to do! And yes it is cold, and we've had snow on the ground for a few weeks and I won't see the ground again until March or April, but that doesn't detract from how much I love this area. It is a big city(ies) but without the big city feel so this Kansas girl feels right at home. I really hope that many of my friends will have an opportunity to come visit at some point. Just come in the summer and you won't have to deal with the crazy winter weather.

The only thing that could have made this semester better would be if I could report that I found an amazing guy who swept me off my feet. BUT that didn't happen. :( Although I did meet one of the potential bachelor's from last season's bachelorette. Which was exciting. Quite honestly though I really wasn't looking for anyone this semester. I just wanted to focus on school, work, and building some great friendships...which I think I have. My first semester really could not have been much better. I am truly blessed and especially blessed knowing that I get to return home (to Manhattan then McPherson) next week and spend time with my family and friends.