Today, I have been getting everything ready for tomorrow. You know, the usual back to school things. Packing the backpack with notebooks, pens, pencils, charging the iPad and iPhone, breaking out the new shoes, etc. I feel ready and I am looking forward to starting school…however, there are a few things I need to update…
Friday at 3:30 I attended orientation for the History Department. This was a great opportunity to meet the other students in the program. Several professors were there as well. All in all, there was not a lot of new information presented. Again, the fact that as grad students we are considered faculty by the university and by the professors of the department was stressed. This was solidified when I was given a key to my office and was given a key to the classroom that I will TA. Having a key somehow makes everything legitimate!
Anyway, during the meeting we were given general information, much of which I have heard many times. Graduate courses are different from undergraduate courses and there will be more work required. What will be difficult to get used to is having courses in the evening and only once per week! That means more information in a class meeting, but more time outside of class to do course work and research. The professors also explained the expectations for TAs, which I heard on Monday.
The most important piece of information I received during the hour meeting was the course outline for the Public History program. Here is the plan I will follow:
-FALL 2010 – HIST 671 (Research Methods), HIST 653 (Patterns of World History), HIST 592 (American Material Culture)
-SPRING 2011 – HIST 673 (Advance Research Methods), HIST 696 (Intro to Public History), Elective
-FALL 2011 – HIST 700 (Thesis), HIST 640 (Internship), Non-US Elective
-SPRING 2012 – HIST 700 (Thesis), Elective, Elective
Of the 12 courses I am required to earn my M.A., I only get to choose 4!! I have looked at the graduate catalog and really want to take the four other Public History courses they offer as long as they are available!
On a surprising note (or perhaps not), I have heard the two most unpopular words at MSSU: hiring freeze. JMU also has a hiring freeze in effect and there have been deep cuts in the budget. Despite this, we were assured that if we needed money for research or for conferences, they would get some, maybe not 100%, but some money together to help with expenses. The History Department is one of the largest department on campus (YES, I did type that correctly!!) and has access to funds. I plan to take advantage of this because the documents I need for some research are in New York City and Washington D.C., but I will keep everyone updated on that!
As I said, tomorrow is the first day of courses. I have the course I am TA for at 12:20 PM and HIST 671 at 6:30 PM. Monday, however, is when I have office hours from 9 – 10 AM and will probably get to campus about 8:30 to avoid the traffic. I know where I WANT to park, but that does not guarantee anything!! The parking sticker I paid for is jokingly called a “Hunting Permit” by the students. Meaning you are allowed to look for a parking spot, but not guaranteed one! The good news, however, JMU recently purchased the old Rockingham Memorial Hospital campus which has two parking decks and several parking lots (with 700 parking spots) and four major buildings. This area has been renamed North Campus and has added about 50 acres to campus. I have parked in one of the new parking decks my last two times on campus and it is very close to the quad, which will make it very popular!
I will update next weekend with stories from my first week as a grad student. Until then…