It's the beginning of a new school year. As someone who's been here all summer, the beginning of the school year doesn't always hold a lot of meaning for me. There are more people, new students, new faces. More activity. But the day to day life of a graduate student ceases to change when the core classes are completed.
That's not to say that everything's the same as it was last year, or even last month. This year holds an important milestone for my personal progress: My Oral Preliminary Exam. Of course, the name of the exam tells you very little about what it actually is. Basically, at least from what I've been told, this is my proposal for my dissertation. That means I've picked a topic, have had a little bit of time to get excited about it, and now I get to put it out into the aether and see what my committee thinks of it. With any luck, i'll be one step closer to graduation.
Of course, that doesn't keep me nearly busy enough. This year, I'm doing my reading challenge again. A little lighter than last year, I'm trying to read 100 books by the end of the calendar year. I'm a little behind, coming in at just over 50 books, but I've got a couple trips coming up that'll give me some time to plow through a couple titles. Last year, I made 125 by reading 3-4 books on new years eve, so there's still plenty of time to catch up.
My other personal challenge for this semester is NaNoWriMo. It's an unusual challenge for someone in the computing fields, though I know of a couple others (one of whom who's even in Stars... you know who you are) who've attempted it in the past. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a full length novel (50,000 words) within the thirty days of November. This will be my 5th attempt, and will finally break the tie for whether I win or lose more often. I've got a great premise, just have to find the story within it. If you're curious, check in with me in December to see how the whole thing turned out.
Lastly, we have Stars. This year, I'm making a last attempt at pushing my tutoring agenda. Discrete Math is a really important class, and is often considered one of the hardest classes here. The sparsity of volunteers for this gig probably speaks to that. So it should be an exciting semester. Looking forward to taking you all on the ride.