International Studies still interesting?

All this controversy about the closing of the School of International Studies has awakened my…complete lack of interest. I don’t mean to sound, well, uninterested, but I just can’t muster up any passion about it. Immediately after we all heard the news, I saw undergraduates rallying outside the Bill Cosford Cinema, indignant, and I wanted to participate in their vehemence. I wanted to identify with the flyers taped on the wall in Merrick Building and the pickets outside the faculty senate’s meeting, but I just haven’t been able to rally up enough give-a-hoot yet.

It’s a symptom, really, of a larger problem: graduate-studentitis. There’s gingivitis, tonsillitis, senioritis, and there’s graduate-studentitis, that little known apathetic phenomenon that leads to empty seats on student government, attendance at not one single football game of the national championship team, and complete lack of awareness of the location of any buildings on campus other than the library and the one which houses the two classrooms where every single one of my classes have been held.

The fact that my school spirit may have diminished in reverse proportion to my advancing age is no reflection on the prowess of our football team nor the significance of the closing of the School which will grant me my degree; it’s simply a matter of change.

The thing is, I just feel like I’ve done the whole college thing already, and I can’t get into it again. In college, I joined campus organizations, I built floats for the homecoming parade, and I think I even painted my face for an athletic event once. I had school spirit.

I’ve got about two months left as a graduate student, and I still haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to do.

I feel some sort of obligation to savor what everyone tells me is the last good time I’m going to have. I go out. I dance. Occasionally, I get kicked out of bars in outrageous scenes involving bored bouncers, tired female bartenders and requests for salt. I even danced on a bar in a Latin club on Key Biscayne last semester, but truth be told, I’m just about as happy at home in a chair by the window reading a novel.

Sometimes, I go to the computer lab and try to work, but that usually disintegrates into e-mail checking and hours of searching the Internet for job options. I feel less like a graduate student and more like a partner in a professional goof-off firm. I get things done, but my rate of efficiency has really gone down the toilet: I feel a sense of accomplishment if I scan twenty pages of an article and post them for my professor before noon.

Like many graduate students, I worked for a little while before going back to school. Going to work every day got boring, and it was either go back to school or find another job. I opted for school, but after having a real job for two years, I’m still figuring out how to force myself out of bed in the morning and make myself read 250 pages, when what I really want to do is go to the beach. I do work part-time, but not on a schedule regular enough to create any kind of rhythm. So, I end up sleeping late, working late, and staying out late. All of which leave me feeling five steps behind.

I’m five steps behind and out-of-the-loop, and I’ve decided graduate school must be some kind of no-man’s land where we go when we think we’re tired of work and miss college. Only when we get there, we realize we can’t go back to that life again either. So, we sit back, watch the undergrads protest, wait for someone to confer our degrees – whatever they may say – and talk about what we’re going to be when we finally do grow up, whenever that is.

Angie Henderson is a graduate student in the School of International Studies.