The Art of Balance

The Art of Balance

Hey Everyone! Welcome back. You all know the drill so let's get started with some highs and lows.

 

My low of the week came on Sunday. After I returned home from a weekend away, I threw some laundry into the wash. Foolishly, I neglected to search my pockets for any remnants of the week passed. When the washer had stopped and I began transferring clothes to the dryer, a blue pen fell out of the washing machine. Then, I began to notice that some of my clothes were wearing some of the blue ink from that pen. This is not the first time I have left something in my pants and allowed it to ruin some clothes and unfortunately, it probably won't be the last. Lesson learned (again): always check pockets before doing laundry.

 

Dessert-ing in Delaware

My high of the week came over the weekend. When many colleges and universities had spring breaks, I did not. However, my girlfriend did and I decided to visit her and her family over the weekend for her younger brother's Confirmation in Wilmington, Delaware. The entire weekend was a blast but the best part may have been the fabulous desserts I was treated to. After the Confirmation, there was a small get together featuring two delicious cakes: chocolate trouffle and white chocolate mousse.


 

 

This was not the end of the delicious desserts. On Sunday, before returning to the District, I was treated to a St. Patrick's Day Frog. I know it doesn't sound appealing but check out the picture below. It is almost like a cupcake covered in icing and filled with what appears to be more icing on top of a cake. It is honestly one of the most fantastic things I have ever eaten.


Now for the topic of this week's blog: balancing a busy schedule in the District.


Life is Time Consuming

When I was preparing to come to D.C., people kept telling me how busy I was going to be when I got here and I never really believed them. From my professors to my mother, I was told to get as much done before I headed down I-95 because when I got to the District, everyone said I would have no time. I am now starting to understand what everyone was talking about. While at SJU, I always remained busy with the different things I was involved with on campus, including writing a thesis my senior year that I am still working on. I often was on campus all day, busy with things like homework, meetings, and work study. I thought when I got to D.C. and all I had to worry about was working 9 to 5 and occasionally working on my thesis, life would be a breeze. But I am ready to admit that I am busier than ever.

 

While at school, it is easy to find an hour between class to get some work done. I used to also have a lot of days where I was done by noon and could head to the library for 10 hours and get done all my work/reading or make significant progress on my thesis, taking an hour break here or there to run to a meeting. Working a real life schedule and trying to balance things is a lot different. First of all, you don't realize how much harder it is to wake up at 6:30 instead of 8. It seems like it's only an hour and a half difference and heading to be an hour earlier each night would fix the problem. That is not the case. The last two semesters, I would get done with class at 6:15 but since I got moving at 8 or 9 in the morning, I'd grab a cup of coffee and everything would be fine. However, when you get up at 6:30, by the time you make it home by 5:30 and make dinner, your brain feels like mush. It is hard enough to keep my eyes open, let alone work on the data and methods section of my thesis or write a cover letter.

 

I think of another big part of my underestimating how busy I would be had to do with not realizing how demanding searching for a job is. As you all know, I am a second semester senior preparing to graduate in May. During the last two weeks I started applying to jobs and boy, does it take time. First, you have to go through search engines and find jobs you are qualified for/ are interested in. Then, its time to get your resume in good shape. These two things seem like they would be quick and painless but they are tedious and time consuming. It takes a while going through job listings and finding places where I am actually qualified enough to work. Not to mention, it is also terrifying seeing how little is out there for someone just leaving school. Every time I look at requirements for a job, I immediately think of every opportunity I could have taken in school or what time I could have spent interning (non-seniors reading: start looking at job requirements for positions you want NOW so you learn what it is you should do in school when you still have time - this is a piece of advice I was given and now wish I followed better). I haven't even listed the most time consuming and difficult part of applying for jobs yet: writing a cover letter. Before this, I've never applied for a position that required a cover letter. To top it off, if you apply to five different jobs, you need five different cover letters. Honestly, I feel like I started trying to apply for jobs two weeks ago and I have 0 applications in so far.

 

In addition to the job search is what I knew I would be busy with - TWC stuff and my thesis. However, I definitely underestimated all you have to do for TWC. Even if I wasn't applying for jobs or writing my thesis, I'd still be busy. Every Friday here, I have programming that basically keeps me occupied from 10:30-4:30. On top of that, I have class every Wednesday night. Neither of these are all that time consuming but then there are other TWC requirements. I'll just list a few to give you a sense: five hours of community service + write a reflection paper on it; two interviews with people in your field about your resume + a reflection paper about that; two informational interviews with people in your field + reflection paper about that; attend three workshops; and to top it all off you have to get all of these materials plus projects completed at work professionally bound. I'm not saying it's bad I have to do this - please don't take it that way. I am incredibly lucky to be doing this program. The point of this is just to show how busy I am with TWC and that any future participants should be prepared for that (more prepared than I was).

 

To top it all off, it is tough balancing all of this stuff with the urge to explore a new city and hang out with friends. I've had the privilege of being down here before TWC started so I already know the city a bit but the work-life balance is a tough line to find. The past two weekends I have not had a chance to make a lot of progress on any of the things I've listed above but I'd do it over again in a second. The work-life balance is difficult enough but then throw in TWC, class, and job applications and it becomes easy to drop the fun stuff, which is why I'm thankful I've had a friend come and visit and an escape to Delaware to help me strike a good balance.

 

I love D.C. I love this program. I love my internship. I am happy and thankful to be here but things have been stressful the past couple of weeks. I hope people reading don't look at this as a detraction from coming here. Do TWC. Seriously, it is worth it all. Just listen to everyone when they tell you how busy you're going to be.

 

On a far more positive and lighter note, be on the lookout mid-week for a midterm review blog. I'll be ranking some of my favorite things here - from Margaritas to brunches and everything in between. Should be fun!

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