Friday, January 29, 2010

Grad School: Day 1.

So the first thing you should know is that on my first day of graduate school, I was sick as a dog. I have one of those sinus infections that has my cheeks and forehead swollen and throbbing, and my eyes on the verge of popping out of their sockets. So I put some Tylenol sinus and a bottle of blue stuff in my briefcase (along with a schedule so I could take the maximum dosages), popped Kleenexes in my coat pockets, partitioned off a part of my briefcase to be a paper/snot receptacle, and shoved off at about 7:30 yesterday morning to beat rush-hour traffic.

As it turns out, there is no rush-hour traffic between Worcester and South Hadley, so I got there and hour before orientation registration started. I did however, realize my mistake halfway the point when it started snowing on me. It's been warm here recently, so I hadn't taken weather into account. No snow brush. No de-icer. No hat. No scarf. Ah, well. I arrived without incident and enjoyed a nice Irish cream (syrup) Cafe-Au-Lait before making my way to the conference center.

First point, Mt. Holyoke campus is beautiful above and beyond any university I've ever seen. The buildings are all incredibly old, dark brick, classical edifices...surrounded by equally classical trees. Seriously, one tree was so large that they had scaffolding set up in the branches to trim it. The campus has a stream with a waterfall as well, around which is built the conference center where we had our orientation.

After arriving at the center, signing the honor code, and getting my ID made (I looked good), it started to snow in earnest. So while listening to explanations about courses, advising, program goals, organizations, acronyms, events, etc., I got to sip on chamomile tea watching snow fall into a waterfall. Orientaiton talks were supposed to be delivered by multiple faculty, but they were all bravo Terry Plum for taking care of it all for us.

After orientation talks, we had lunch. My academic advisor was also under the weather, so that is forthcoming for me. My next big event was a library tour, which was absolutely astounding. The campus library spans three buildings, one of which is seven stories tall. The central foyer looks like the anteroom of an imperial castle, and the functional bits come off of it like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle--making it feel even more castle-like. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that I would rank their main reference room on par in beauty to the National Cathederal. It had nearly a three story vaulted ceiling with ornately carved strutwork, massive thick glass windows with thousands of tiny little panes, real dark-wood bookshelves, and random windy little wooden staircases that led to reading balconies big enough for one. It is like a book cathederal. I could go on about the rest of the library...I'll just say that it was all amazing.

After the tour, we had a couple-hour orientation to the various technological tools available to us. We mingled for a bit and dispersed, thinking that the snow was over.

The snow was not over. After enjoying a corned beef sandwich from the Tailgate Picnic, I was walking back to the GSLIS office when the whiteout hit. It came from behind me, so I didn't even see it before it hit the back of my neck and head. I turned around to see that the world had transformed into a ghostly white. Teeny tiny particles of snow were falling in such quantities that I couldn't see my own hand at arm's length from my face. It was neat, but very cold and windy. So I read Peter F. Hamilton on a couch in the office until class started.

My first class is Evaluation of Information Services. From my first impression, it is going to be all about using qualitative surveys and quantitative statistics to evaluate the efficiency of library systems. So I get to learn about statistics and bibliometrics. Yay. That'll be new. I've never been a big numbers fan, but I am a little excited about this. For my first project, I think I want to try to compare the relationships between collection development expenses and staffing expenses in Massachusetts public libraries as they change based on the size of the library and the number of patrons they serve. I honestly really want to graph this.

Class let out at 9:00 p.m. By then, I was ready to go home. So I chiselled my way into my car and let the defrost work for a while before driving the pike back to Worcester. I really, really hope that I'm a little better before my Saturday classes. Being the creapy guy who carries around kleenexes, blows his nose every ten minutes, sneezes every fifteen, and takes swigs from his bottle of blue syrup just doesn't suit me.


Lance said...

Sounds as fun as it could have been with an explodey face. Good luck with Saturday, and I think you should keep swigging blue stuff out a bottle indefinitely. Make it your signature thing!

kerry said...

Looking forward to "Grad School: Day 2." Hope you enjoy the breakfast thingy. I guess I'll have to read manga while waiting for you to come home.