I am officially done with my first year of my PhD coursework! All that is left before I achieve true freedom is a ton of music appreciation grading, but the end is so very near!

As I was brainstorming this post, I was trying to compile a list of things I learned or a list of things I experienced…some kind of list. Everyone loves list posts. However, I could not fit everything I want to share with you on to one themed list. So here are 5 things I want to tell you about my first year that do not fit on a themed list:

  1. The workload is very real. I have not studied like this before, nor have I written such extensive papers, or even read research articles prior to this year. I feel like it took my 29 years to learn how to study correctly. The former student in me would have really appreciated knowing these study strategies, but I guess it’s better now than never! Staying organized was absolutely key, and I finally made a system for myself that worked.
  2. I’m 100% sure that my post-PhD life includes working with students. Whether that be back in a high school choral classroom, teaching future music educators on the collegiate level, or even private studio work, I know that I need to be surrounded by students. In a perfect world, I’d get to do a little bit of all of that! I find great joy in sharing my teaching and musical experiences with people in hopes that it helps them in their own career path/life.
  3. Hattiesburg is pretty cool. I was very apprehensive about not having good grocery stores (that is still an issue) and no fun restaurants or coffee shops, but I have found my favorites, and will keep trying new places! The coffee shops here are actually some of the best that I have ever been to, and note that I said shops…more than one! All this to say, Hattiesburg isn’t as bad as I pictured it could be!
  4. My age is starting to show in ways that I’m ok with. Even though 4-5 years isn’t a significant difference, I’m finding that my life experiences thus far are enough to shape my daily thoughts and activities. I’ve already been in 2 collegiate choirs prior to USM, and while this year was super fun and filled with great repertoire, I became not only physically tired, but it was hard to make it a priority and the grand scheme of life. Unlike undergrads, we have a mortgage and bills to pay, so when conflicts arose it was hard to not be frustrated by choosing income over concerts, or vice versa. When I was in undergrad, I would definitely put choir before literally anything else in my life, but it was because I could. It kind of puts things in perspective on the teacher side of my brain as well…when not all kids are going to put your ensemble first. I’ll have to pray about that one when I’m back in the classroom…
  5. I have never been more intentional about my physical health until this year. I read a quote that went something like, “If you don’t care for your body, where will you live?” and I sort of panicked about my eating habits and complete lack of exercise. Since then, I’ve changed a lot of my diet, and I’ve been working with a trainer once a week at the gym since January. I can lift weights, folks. I’m basically a body-builder. Kidding, I’m literally killed every Tuesday morning but I am loving the way I feel! More on this topic in a future post, so stay tuned!

So there you have it. 5 things that don’t fit into a themed list that I wanted to share with you about my time in Hattiesburg thus far. 

Now, onto sweet summer freedom! We will be taking a class in July, but other than that, the world is ours! I’ll be working on a few school-related items, but my focus is going to be on some creative projects! I’ll be re-launching and re-vamping my newsletter in August, and there will be some other new things happening on the blog and social media as that time draws closer. 🙂

Until then, time to relax!