I know. It sounds crazy but for those who are doing the program in a year and a half, it indeed is! For those who are finishing in a year, even less is left. A lot happened over the past seven months and IEDPers grew, with more insights about the program and graduate school experience. Just like the time when this year’s cohort reflected on their midterms experiences, we thought we would reflect on how much we have evolved now that we are almost halfway through the program and halfway through this semester!

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Question 1: How has your spring semester been different from the last semester?

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One of the points that came up multiple times through out the post-its were that we don’t get to see our cohort mates as much as we used to! In fact, you will notice that we have fewer post-its than we had for the last midterms reflections. It has been really hard to get the cohort time we used to in the fall semester so as one of the post-it says: you really gotta enjoy it while it lasts! How would one possible imagine that snow day is a feature of spring semester? But it is apparently, in Philly!

Many students have noted that they feel more informed, eased in and comfortable with the course work in general so it seems like the overwhelming feeling one might get in the fall does not hunt one forever! It might seem obvious (duh) but when you are actually in it, it might not be so evident. There can be a moment during fall term when you feel like “will I ever get better at this?” “will I ever feel like I belong here?” For those who have the exact same worry, our cohort says: it shall pass! 🙂

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Question 2: Was there something you did in last semester that helped you become better prepared for this semester? If so, what was it?

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Many have noted that reaching out to people in the program, whether it be professors, peers or Lauren, has been really helpful! I also agree with it in that the reason most cohort mates feel more at ease and comfortable this semester is that they now have people that they know in Penn and they do not feel like they are left to navigate grad school all by themselves. Definitely try to make it to a few social events, visit professors during office hours and join reading groups! Other self-case tactics such as finding routines and having regular gym time helped a lot of our cohort as well. Time management is also another factor that helped a lot of us this semester!

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Question 3: Is there anything you wish you had done in fall now that you are halfway through the spring semester?

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Logistics first: yes, snow boots will come very handy as I have noticed that despite it doesn’t snow A LOT in Philly, there are snow on the ground and nothing defeats our spirit more than wet shoes and socks! As you’ve seen from the day in the life of an IEDPer series, once the students get out of their rooms in the morning, it takes a while for them to be back so always be prepared.

Before things get hectic, be sure to explore Philly with your cohort and get started with extracurricular activities! It’s not to say that you shouldn’t join a new club in the spring semester but just having more time spent with a club helps you get a more engaged experience. Once again, time management and routines matter, and…

RELAX 🙂 Many of our cohort mates noted that they wish they had worried less and I couldn’t second more! Really. It does feel intimidating at times but you will fare through it just fine. Everyone is here to help you and wishes the best for you!

Just as IEDPers depart Philly (or stay in Philly for #staycation) for spring break, it was nice to have a little reflection to help us look at the path we’ve walked through so far. Looking at the post-it notes, I could feel that we as a group have made quite a bit of progress and we definitely sound more at ease! Well, time to be really “at ease” — we will come back after the spring break! There will be a special post during the spring break though so look out for it!