Summer Update

I’m sure the few of you faithful readers out there might be wondering how the summer is going for the in-between-semesters grad student, so I’m going to try to update you with a brief post.

After returning from a month in Europe and two more weeks on the road to West Tennessee, I finally took the time for a real summer break. Whether or not this was actually a good thing is open to debate, because while my mental health greatly appreciated some down time, my work ethic has not yet recovered. And that is a really big problem, given all that is upcoming this fall semester!

During the downtime, Karen and I have lazed around the house, started watching LOST on Netflix, and last week had a Harry Potter marathon, culminating in seeing the final movie at the downtown movie theater yesterday afternoon. We also went to Sevier County (read: Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville) on Saturday to get our Pancake Pantry fix and shop the outlet malls whilst we had Gap and Banana Republic store-wide 30 percent off coupons… Banana Republic has become my all-time favorite clothing store, but only when shopping through the outlet store.

In a close second, my next favorite store has become Nike, but again, only the outlet/factory store variety again. (Note the grad-student-on-a-budget theme running here?) Speaking of Nike, most of you have likely seen my occasional post to Facebook about running with Nike+. I started the fifth week today, and though Karen dropped out on me after serious knee pain last week, I’m going to keep this up as long as I can! I don’t know if any of you are using Nike+, but if you are and want to add me as a friend, my username is matrcook.

In the last two weeks, I have slowly gotten the ball rolling on my to-do list for the fall. It’s quite extensive because I’m teaching a section of Geography 101 ā€“ World Regional Geography to approximately 120 students. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:10 a.m.! It’s slightly daunting for my first real teaching assignment, but at least it’s only one class and I have had a lot of time to prepare for it. Last week I laid out the rough draft of my syllabus and this week I plan to hammer out the rest of the nitty-gritty details. The course focuses on five world regions: Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. For those of you who know me best, you know that I have never been to ANY of these regions. While that is not a major problem, it does make it a little more difficult to gather materials, and it makes me a LOT more dependent on the textbook and other sources rather than my own experiences, photographs, etc. Still, my goal is to help my students have a better understanding of the world by the time the course is over, while having some fun along the way.

Also accomplished last week was the beginnings of what I’m calling my “List of Ph.D. schools under consideration.” At this point it stands at seven schools in the U.S., two overseas, and (surprisingly) *none* are in Germany. Not saying it couldn’t expand at this point, but I will have to start narrowing it down once the semester starts. Application deadlines for some programs are as early as Dec. 15, though a majority are in January. I’ll keep you up-to-date as often as I can throughout the semester, provided busyness doesn’t have me hanging from the ceiling by my ears.

In other news, my biggest concern for the remaining part of the summer is my thesis research. I have seriously neglected it for a few weeks, and it is now time to remedy that. I’ve started by writing down the common themes that kept popping up in my observations, interviews, and conversations while in Berlin, and from there I will start to work on transcriptions that fit into the different themes. This qualitative data analysis is definitely difficult if you’ve never done it before, but my advisor pointed me in the right direction last week during a two-hour meeting! I’ve now got a couple of books to help steer me for the next several weeks. Beyond this analysis work, I’ve quickly got to start working on a paper for some conferences I’m attending this fall. I was accepted to present a paper on my Stolpersteine research at the MTSU Holocaust Conference in October, and I plan to use many of the same ideas from that paper in another to submit to the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (whew. That takes a while to write! That’s why we just call it SEDAAG ā€“ pronounced “see-dag.”) The SEDAAG conference is in November, but I have to submit the entire paper in about a month. Scary!

That’s all the time I’ve got for now, so I hope you’ve enjoyed the update. I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting, but they’ll be saved for another day!

5 thoughts on “Summer Update”

  1. Whew! Don’t know what makes me more tired…thinking about you running or all the work you are doing for grad school!! Thanks for the update!

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  2. I’m overwhelmed, and I’m not even doing all that work!!! How much more impressive can you get…teaching your first real college class and now submitting two papers to professional conferences!!! Guess it’s time to dig in, since fall semester has already fallen upon you…

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