A Day in the Life: Semesters Feel Weird

So for all four years of my undergrad education, my classes were on a trimester system. We started school in early September, had classes for 10 weeks, then had a 6 week winter break starting at Thanksgiving and going through the first week of January. We’d then come back and have two more trimesters Jan-June, with a 1.5 week spring break in the middle. Falls were easy – 10 weeks of work, 6 weeks of break. Springs were hard – 20 weeks of work separated by only a 1.5 week break.

I am now operating on semesters, although my brain does not seem to believe me that there are in fact still several weeks of classes left, despite the fact that I have been in classes for the past 11.5 weeks.

This pretty much sums it up.
This pretty much sums it up.

A couple weeks ago I started feeling sort of “off” in terms of my motivation to do work. I still love my research and love learning and am super happy to be in grad school, but if I sat down to work on some reading or a problem set, it would take like 5 minutes before I found myself thinking “you know what else would be fun? baking something. running. hiking. taking a bubble bath. painting your nails. doing a puzzle. texting my friends. watching an entire tv series on netflix. anything but work.”

At first I chalked it up to just feeling a little burnt out after taking midterms and recently finishing up a few big projects. Grad school is hard, and feeling burnt out is no good, so I took a break. I took a few days to just do whatever I felt like and temporarily ignore work.

But the break didn’t work. I’ve now been struggling with motivation issues for a little over two weeks. I realized shortly after the break didn’t work that my issue was that my brain had been conditioned over the past 4 years to take a great big 6 week long break after working hard for 10 weeks, and I have not yet fully adjusted to being on 16-ish week long semesters. Luckily, since figuring out why my brain keeps telling me to loaf around in pajamas and slippers and blow off my work commitments, it has gotten a lot easier to get myself motivated. It’s comforting to know that there is no mysterious force sucking away my motivation – I’m just not used to working on a semester schedule.

While I know the semester vs trimester scheduling is hard on me right now, I am quite looking forward to my brain being pleasantly surprised when classes end the first week of May after only 16 weeks of work in the spring, instead of ending in mid-June after 20 weeks of work like I’m used to.

PS. Daylight savings sucks and my motivation issues are definitely not helped by the fact that it is totally dark outside by 5pm (thanks giant rocky mountains to the west making the sun disappear behind your dumb sunlight hogging peaks at like 4pm…).

My view at 5pm. Why, daylight savings time, why. I'm not even home from work at 5pm some days and it's already totally dark out. Makes it kind of hard to go out and hike or run when it's super dark and there was a mountain lion recently seen near your neighborhood. But I suppose the mountain lion issue isn't because of daylight savings time...
My view at 5pm. Why, daylight savings time, why. I’m not even home from work at 5pm some days and it’s already totally dark out. Makes it kind of hard to go out and hike or run when it’s super dark and there was a mountain lion recently seen near your neighborhood. But I suppose the mountain lion issue isn’t because of daylight savings time…

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