Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Memorable Moments While Getting My Doctorate

Let's face it. No matter where you are, what your age is, or how deep your background is -- when you become a student again, you gain back that little spark of being a kid again.

It's a good thing.

Here are some fun memories of me being a big, big kid.

1. Sleepy Time....
I fell asleep in class. ALL. THE. TIME. To keep me honest, the classmate who sat left of me (who also happened to be top in the class in practically every course) would periodically wake me up with questions about the lecture I was sleeping through. Periodically? Ha! She did this constantly! What she was actually looking for was another explanation to the lecture content itself.

"Ben. Ben! How does that actually work?"

I'd wake up from some stupor having studied way late the night before, gather my faculties (or whatever was left of them), and start to figure out her question. Once I gave a satisfactory answer. She would RAISE HER HAND... and proceed to verify my explanation via a question to the professor!!!!

Fortunately, the vast majority of my explanations were valid. It was just hilarious how often this occurred. And, it didn't matter if I was hiding behind my laptop, feigning reading the text, propping up powerpoint notes to block line of sight with the lecturer... this gal would pull one of these numbers on me.

Truth be told, it was a very good thing. If she had a question, there's a excellent chance I needed to pay attention -- it was probably going to be on the test!

2. Food! FOOD! FREE FOOOOOD!
This is actually part of the development of my sensory integration, style studying methods. I first walked all over campus looking for food. Recognizing these scrounging strolls as an opportune time to study, I started doing this with stacks of notes with me - weaving, dipping, diving, and dodging all the under graduate foot traffic.

In any case, it turned out that there was free food over all campus pretty much all the time. There were consistent group meetings of graduate nursing, psychology department get togethers, intramural groups, etc. Food was food. It didn't matter that they were left overs. It didn't even matter that it was gross. Starving student! HELLO!

I was willing to engulf anything that wouldn't make me sick for anything more than 20 minutes. 20 minutes. I could afford 20 minutes of sickly hell. Anything more would cut into my anatomy lab time. And that would be bad...

3. Bunny!
I used to have pet bunnies! One went with me to school and boy did I spoil him. I actually cordoned off half the room with chicken fencing so he could play and make a mess of things. And, as if the entire experience of graduate school wasn't enough to warp the brain, how about an adorable little Netherland dwarf rabbit waking you up every morning around 5am?

Yup! It was his ritual. Morning meant food and EEEXEERRRCISE! He was already a really well behaved bunny so letting him play free was well deserved; in fact, he would ration out his food instead of engorge himself to silly land. In any case, every morning, he'd stand on his hind legs to shake the fence... letting me know it was morning.

I knew!! Bah! Hum-bug!

And then, he'd run around his half of the room as if it was the 100 meter dash combined with bunny-style-parkour. He'd jump on this, leap off that, make tight turns, shake the fencing a little bit to make sure I was paying attention, grab some water, and repeat!

He was also probably doing this to keep fit. After all, there WERE four cats in the house.... oooooooh and how they loved to try to sneak into my room.

4. Weekend Reboot.
My home town of San Diego is located approximately two hours away from where I went to school. I faithfully drove home EVERY weekend for family time, surf time, and spiritual recharge. In fact, I think there were only 5 weekends that I spent up at school.

Yup. Faithfully, I would drive home Friday night and get home around 8-10pm. Then, I'd wake up before and/or around 6am to make sure I made dawn patrol (a surfing term for earliest surfing time out in the water). After all, I grew up in a little area in San Diego called Pacific Beach -- and on the corner of this community lies a cliff edge and an underwater reef point we appropriately call Pacific Beach Point.

Man... off this point with North West ground swells in the winter... it would produce perfect waves of 8-10 feet... careening toward us from the deep ocean. I mean, these monsters would form 50 yards out from where the line usually is! People would paddle for their lives, hoping to escape the human washing machine made up of a who-knows-how-many-thousands of gallons of crushing water. However, if you were lucky enough to catch one of these waves, it would take you all the way in from deep ocean into Tourmaline beach. 30-60 seconds of surfing bliss.

Amazing.

In any case, wave or no waves, I'd go out. Surf from 6am or so until 900-930am. I'd go home, make a HUGE breakfast of ridiculous proportions and zero-health-benefits-whatsoever. I'd down that puppy and pass out until the early afternoon.

I also made sure the rest of my Saturdays and Sunday day-times were spent with family and dedicated to spiritual recharge. It was perhaps the secret to my success in graduate school. I worked REALLY hard; I played even harder; and, I made sure to recharge, reboot, and mentally/emotionally/spiritually heal up every weekend. In fact, I think there were probably only 3 or 4 Sundays that I actually studied serious school material during my entire grad school experience.

5. Becoming A Ninja.
Let's face it. Everyone has their secret study spots -- blessed for success, hidden from the rest.

Be it library, coffee house, mom&pop cafe, diner, home, friends house, or whatever -- my secret: empty lecture halls.

These were havens, absolute havens! Not only did they all have functioning powerpoint projectors and attached computers (or ports for which I could connect my laptop), they had all the room in the world for me to walk around, mentally go through content/techniques/anatomy/etc., and, they were EMPTY.

Unfortunately, the campus security eventually locks down these places, right? Since classes were from 8am until practically 5-7pm... I didn't find it all that efficient to actually go anywhere else to find a spot to study. Therefore, I took up any lecture area I could. Sometimes it was clinicals lab. Other times, it was the equipment room of the physical therapy department. If these areas were being used for other classes, I'd find areas in the under graduate lecture halls. And, boy, was I good about figuring out the pattern of availability.

Yet, every night come 10pm and 12 midnight, security comes to lock up. This is when I became a ninja. In order to survive, I had to study until at least 1-130am. There just was no other way. So, I got to the point where I could slip between security lock ups to find the empty rooms, halls, corners, and blind spots to be able to stay on campus and finish up my studying routine.

It was a RARE time when security would catch me; for those student patrol officers, it kind of became a game. They knew how it was... they were cool. For the staff patrol officers... they were actually very pleasant. But, rules were rules.

Nevertheless, if you can't see me... you can't catch me!


So! Those are my memorable moments. What are some of yours?! 

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