10 Things in the First 10 Weeks

In her last blog post about the fear of missing out, Lisa listed a number of exciting things she’d done in the short span of a week. Much like her, before I came to graduate school, I never thought I’d ever be worrying about missing out on something. I truly (read foolishly) thought it would be quite feasible to try and do it all, until I added all kinds of calendars — the HGSE calendar, our IEP program calendar, events from the Kennedy School and the Law School — to my phone and saw at once that there were at least three events of interest happening at the same time each day! How did I pick which ones to go to, you ask? Largely, this choice was influenced by whether or not I was in class or a study group meeting at the time of the event! When I didn’t have either of the two commitments, and happened to pick one event over another, I sometimes found myself wondering what it would have been like to go to the other event (FOMO again). So I’ve put together a list of ten things my colleagues and I have really enjoyed doing during our first ten weeks, and I hope it is a list that you will find useful when you are at HGSE next year!

1. Take a statistics class: Feel your stomach sink every time you see a collection of numbers in a table? Take the plunge — go ahead and enroll in one of HGSE’s extremely helpful statistics classes. Blink rapidly in confusion when your professor says something like “the standard error of the sampling distribution” and wonder if you’ve made the right choice. Weeks later, just after you’ve received comments on another homework assignment, find yourself talking to a friend about the distribution of scores in the class, and realize how much you’ve learnt since the beginning of the semester (and how you can now understand every single word in those entertaining statistics songs)

2. Participate in the Multicultural Festival:  Against your best intentions to get work done, go anyway. Plan on it being just a fifteen-minute study break, where you will walk in, grab some food and walk back up to the computers in Gutman. Stay for three hours, drawn in by all the talent you never knew your classmates had, food from any part of the world you’ve ever been to or want to visit, and the little dance party at the end.

The beginning of a flash mob at the end of the Festival
The beginning of a flash mob at the end of the Festival

3. Read by the fire in Gutman: Before you’ve had the chance to buy adequate winter clothing, realize that it is getting terribly cold outside, and that you have more work to do with each passing week. Before you succumb to the comfort of your bed, sit by the fire and pick up one of the many articles you will need to read for the week.

4. Organize a potluck with your classmates: Whether it’s only enough people to be able to fit into your room, or everyone from your program, host a dinner. Sit back at the end of the evening, full and happy from all the different kinds of delicious food and the time away from studying that you spent chatting, laughing and catching up.


5. Join a club or an extracurricular activity: Regardless of how narrow or specific your area of interest might be, there really is something here for everyone. Whether you’ve spent years working in a field or are suddenly interested in a new region or topic, you will find a group of incredibly smart, dedicated people who will welcome you in and work with you on interesting new projects. In addition to the many organizations at the Ed School, there is also incredible variety to be found at the Kennedy School and the Law School, or you could even go ahead and start your own!

6. Go for a run by the Charles River: Especially pretty when the leaves start to change color, if you happen to live around the Cambridge area this scenic view is enough motivation to exercise.

7. Eat a cannoli: You must (preferably from Mike’s in the North End). Enough said.

8. Go apple picking: Pile into a car with your classmates and realize that a medium-sized bag of apples fills up faster than you can read this blog post. Nibble on more apples while picking them than you would probably eat in a month. On your way home, stop to buy incredible apple cider donuts and pet the furry animals.

9. Attend a conference: Especially if it is about a topic or area you’re unfamiliar with. Be surprised by how much it will get you to think about your own research and the kind of work you want to do, and by the amazing things doctoral students from different schools are working on.

10. Wander over to a festival: Before it gets too cold to spend copious amounts of time outside, religiously peruse Boston’s list of festivals and outdoor concerts. Take crazy happy pictures, and come back home groaning about how much work you still have to do before your first class on Monday.

Kim Fernandes is a Master’s candidate in the International Education Policy program. Having taught previously in Mumbai, Kim hopes to return to India after graduation to support government and low-income private schools.