In my idealized version of being ABD, one of the things I could look forward to was a bit of a break from the rat race that is the academic quarter system. Ostensibly, being beyond the required course work for my program would mean that my life and stress levels would no longer be tethered to the machinations of the registrar’s office. Alas, not so.
Partly, this was of my own doing. Taking a language class meant that I had everyday responsibilities – both showing up for class and preparing for the next day. Just like my undergraduate classmates I had to take a final exam, which is something I really don’t miss about undergraduate life. Because of the fellowship I was on (Foreign Language and Area Studies), I also had to register for another East Asia-related course. Fortunately, I was able to fulfill this requirement through directed readings, but I still had to do end-of-quarter projects. This past quarter, that project morphed into an ~30 page paper.
But then there were things more or less outside my control. There were various responsibilities associated with being a TA, which came to a head at the end of the quarter with grading papers and final exams. The end of quarter rush was exacerbated by having to attend a pre-departure orientation for Fulbright (BTW I got a Fulbright!) Thursday-Saturday of finals week. It was a valuable experience, but I probably could have enjoyed it more without the grading cloud hanging over me.
So no, being ABD didn’t automatically exempt me from the exhausting patterns of the higher ed academic calendar that have dogged me for the past nine years (four years of undergrad, five years of graduate school). So if you think being ABD will be a panacea for academic exhaustion, don’t quite get your hopes up. Even tenured faculty aren’t immune from the stresses of the quarter system, it seems.
The good news is that it’s summer now. No, we don’t have plans for a vacation, but I’m excited about the various things I’ll be doing and the greater flexibility I have to build time for R&R into my schedule.And that should mean more consistent blogging too.