Hi there!

Have you ever seen the TV show Glee? If you have, you may remember that at the start of every episode, the narrator would begin: “Here’s what you missed on Glee!” Cue a rapid-fire summary of the last episode’s events. So much has happened since my last blog post that I feel I need my own, Glee-style recap. So, here’s what you missed on The Emma Show: I switched some courses, submitted a major application, forgot to take those breaks I was writing about last time. Whoops.

First, let’s talk about those changes to my schedule. In my previous blog post, I mentioned that I was enrolled in a French language course. I took French classes all through elementary and high school, and FREN 219 in second year at Queen’s, so I felt prepared for FREN 231… until I entered the class.

As the professor walked through the course syllabus, I realised that this course was all about writing style, spelling and grammar, or rédaction et style, en français. Unfortunately, while I feel comfortable speaking French, writing is not my strong suit. Needless to say, a syllabus full of written assignments made me nervous. Usually, I would push through those nerves. After all, a course like this might be the best way to improve my writing in French!

After a couple of days’ worrying, I decided that it was time to make a change. I swapped FREN 231 for an art history course (a big change, I know). This new course, ARTH 310, is all about feminist approaches to art—and I am loving it! Before I swapped courses, I considered the possibility that I was “giving up” on a course just because it was tough. First, second, and even third year Emma would never have done that.

I think there is a lot of value in “sticking it out” when things get tough; you become more resilient, and learn things you might not have otherwise. However, fourth-year Emma has had a lot of practice in “sticking it out.” I wanted my elective courses to be something I looked forward to, not a source of anxiety. Anyway, this isn’t me ducking out completely. ARTH 310 has its own challenges, especially since I’ve only taken one other art history course. More on that next time…

Speaking of challenges, I recently submitted a major grad school-related application for review. I began this application back in February, and it’s taken me almost 8 months to complete, from writing essays and short answers to gathering supporting documents. In that time, I read (and re-read) the same material several times over. It can be hard to keep reading the same stuff.

To keep myself engaged, I employed these editing strategies:

  • I asked a friend to read through my CV to make sure that it made sense to someone who didn’t have the same experiences. When they had questions about a line, I had to figure out a way to explain it quickly and clearly. Often, that explanation ended up in the final draft!
  • I changed the typeface, font colour, and font size every once and a while. It sounds silly, but when something looks different, it can be easier to spot errors you may not have noticed before.
  • I read everything out loud (and then apologised to my housemates who had to hear it so many times!). Sometimes, you hear errors more clearly than you see them.

After all that, the application is finally submitted. Cross your fingers for me!

Finally, in my last blog post, I talked about how I wanted to find ways to disconnect from schoolwork during breaks. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been easy to balance school and breaks these last few weeks. The the volume of work between third and fourth year feels dramatically different.

But, while there are a lot of assignments, not all of them are worth the same amount. In previous years, I would put 100% of my energy into every assignment, even if the assignment was only worth 5%. I’m starting to realise that this approach to work is just not tenable in fourth year (or any year, really!).

For example, I have two major assignments upcoming in my Black Studies course, and one small weekly reflection. As I planned out my week, I prioritised the major assignments, assigning about 3 hours of time to each. I then only have about an hour or two for the smaller assignment this week, but I recognize that amount of time is commensurate with its worth. That said, it’s hard to stick to these time limits, especially when my inner perfectionist is saying, “just one more read through!” That’s why I’ve started to set a timer when I sit down to work. I find that if I can see the timer, not only do I stay on schedule, but I am less easily distracted, because I know I only have a finite amount of time to work.

Speaking of which, my timer just went off, and it’s time to sign off on this blog post and go eat dinner. It’s mac and cheese time! (I told you there would be a lot of food talk in my blogs! 😀).

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