For those of us with assistantships in the department (of art, duh), our contracts began last week as well. We were each assigned duties to help prep the studios for the coming semester. Selin and Michael and I put a fresh coat of gray paint on the floors of painting studios (see below). It was a good way to break into the program and to get to know some new faces. I feel welcomed here and certainly not greeted with the anxiety of feeling like I have to prove myself or find a place to fit in. It feels natural. Perhaps that's due to the size of the program (I believe there are 14 of us total), but irregardless, it feels just right.
I'm lucky enough to be starting off with a Full Graduate Assistantship, which, in exchange for 20 hrs of service to the department, pays for my tuition and provides a not-huge, but not-so-bad stipend that covers most of my living expenses. Contrary to the belief of many... grad school doesn't have to mean mounds of debt! Not all schools have the resources to fully fund their students, but there are lots of programs out there like UMD that offer generous assistantships and fellowships. Thank goodness! For my assistantship this semester, I will be a Teaching Assistant for four different sections (each with a different professor) of ART-100 - 2D Fundamentals. I'm excited about learning, in such a hands-on way, how to be a teacher (at the collegiate level). The program is structured so that, by my 2nd/3rd year, I will be teaching my own classes here at UMD, if I so wish. Let's hope my "students" aren't put off by the fact that I'm practically the same age as they are ;) Perhaps if I act really mature I'll have them fooled... that is... until they see my student ID!