What I Know About Graduate School, So Far

Going into graduate school, I never knew how important analytical reading is until now. For my bachelor’s, I’ve had the incredible blessing to study what I loved, which was literature. There was joy in realizing the power of stories, from Shakespeare, Miller to Orwell, I experienced nothing but a thrill in getting deeper into all sides of human nature. Right at its moments of pleasure, bliss, contentment and greed, jealousy as well as self-fulfillment. Furthermore, it allowed me to not just look at the pages in wonder but to peel every word to see what they actually entail which made me be more analytical. So, it gave strong grounds for me to know what I wanted to study next which was cultural studies.

Sure, I was initially drawn to this field of study because of the level of hype it was in when I graduated and through most of my first year at work as a Features desk intern and a writer at a non-profit. However, those experiences pretty much catapulted me into the world of not only reading between the lines but seeing everything that I read and observe as merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s no longer a theory to approach each of Hemingway’s masterpieces, it’s a lens to put on every single day. Why are rural women in South Sumatra so quick to agree or succumb to ironic myths such as not eating fish after giving birth and during breastfeeding? What’s up with the boom of independent or Indie publishing in Indonesia?

After all that, here I am, drowning in a sea of reading material. And why am I highlighting this? This is because I’ve realized that reading in graduate school is a different game altogether. With cultural studies, it’s all about analytical thinking or what’s beneath the surface, thus helping us form our own academic opinion to write that thesis in the end of our one or two-year study. So, I’m slowly learning how to take notes, by writing a summary at the end of each chapter I’ve read or a conclusion to make sure I understood everything. If I sort of hesitate before a sentence, I would look back at my reading to correct or expand on any aspects that were unclear to me.

Now, as you look further into your syllabus, there’ll be less quizzes or tests. Instead, your abilities to synthesize what you read and learn in class into your own experiences and perspectives is a bigger priority. “Throw all theories out the window. Graduate school is not theory based, it’s issue based,” was what my lecturer said, so boy do I have a lot to learn.

Hope you didn’t mnd this ramble, guys! See you on the next post.