The new semester has begun and I already feel overwhelmed.
Not that I actually have much to do, but the knowledge that by this time next week I’ll be up to my ears in readings, homework, and lab is pretty daunting.
But, let’s recap last semester: 5 classes, 2 seminars, and 1 research rotation. That was a lot. But, most first years seemed to have about the same course load and we all got through it. I admit to squeezing out a few tears of frustration during some particularly stressful days, but managed to get through my classes and actually retain some information. After a few sleep-deprived weeks, I was totally ready for break and took advantage by sleeping a minimum of 12 hours, not including naps. Unlike most of my fellow classmates, I didn’t go home visit family and instead puttered around Ann Arbor sleeping and reading. Unfortunately, break was not that long and now we are all back in school a bit dazed, well fed, and not ready for the onslaught of school.
I had planned on taking it a bit easier this semester in terms of course load, but it was not to be. The thing is, I’m taking my doctoral qualifying examinations at the end of this semester and in order to “sit” for these exams, you need 2 500-level and 2 600-level courses in your department (Environmental Health Sciences for me). But, I’m also working towards a Masters in Public Health (M.P.H.) in dietetics and am also taking those courses in addition to the classes needed for my Ph.D. There are two students in the Ph.D. program who are working on becoming registered dietitians as well but they already had their M.P.H. in hand before stepping into the Ph.D. program whereas I came into the program knowing that I wanted to do a Ph.D. as well as become a registered dietitian but having none of the requirements completed so the department is helping me figure out how to juggle the various classes and requirements. The unfortunate thing about being the first person to pursue both degrees at the same time is that no one really knows how to deal with some of the issues that come up. The issue with the whole courses thing is that I technically have fulfilled the 2 500-level and 2 600-level courses needed to “sit” for my exams, but am unable to count my classes from the M.P.H. towards the requirement, forcing me to take more classes than I want to this semester.
I understand why the department doesn’t want to count two of the classes that I previously thought could be used towards the requirement, but it is still frustrating. At the same time, I’m very grateful that the department is willing to work with me in meshing the Ph.D. and dietetics programs together.