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  • Madeline Topf

Reflecting on my first semester.

Expectations were low, zoom camera was off, and excitement was tempered. Ah, fall 2020 in academia. Going into my first year, I had two goals:

1. Choose a lab

2. Keep the minimum GPA

These goals were pretty easy to accomplish, but that was a bit on purpose. I didn’t know what I was getting into, so I wanted to set reasonable expectations to be able to achieve. I’m happy to say I have accomplished both of those things! I joined a lab that studies population ecology and will be working on multi-species bacterial interactions in the context of a biofilm. The minimum GPA at my institution for graduate students is 3.0, and happy to report I believe I kept the score.

In addition, I learned:

- How be home with myself everyday. It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t, but if I keep focused and make time to be social, I can do it.

- A clean living environment was essential to feeling well. Dishes is self care.

- That a schedule was important, and consistent things that block off time

- In a relationship, you have to give it space to breathe, especially now.

- I learned to communicate what was on my mind and how I felt.

- That it’s hard to grasp how other people are doing, so just ask.

- Also, it is okay to be okay sometimes

- It is okay to feel bad, even if other people feel worse.

- Its fucking hard to cook for one person. I’m supposed to PLAN my meals?

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