Yay!!! God is soo good y'all. I finished my first semester of grad school. :-) It's been a crazy couple of months, but I am going to give y'all a quick recap.
First of all, grad school is sooo much different from undergrad, especially with this program I'm in where our classes were unique this semester. I had one class that was only 1 week long, 1 class for 6 weeks, another class for 6 weeks, and a class for my concentration, Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences, which lasted the whole semester. It was definitely an adjustment for sure because I didn't have a lot of tests - just lots of writing and assignments. Overall, I liked what I learned, especially in my concentration class, and I felt like I had an advantage because I did graduate with a B.S. in Public Health so much of it was a review.
Grad school was an opportunity to reinvent myself. I know it sounds cheesy, but it really is never too late to reinvent yourself or make a change. I told myself a while back that I would start using my "real" first name, Ressiel Nicole, when I feel like I'm "grown". I mean I'm kind of grown now right? I'm in grad school after all, and I worked a full-time job right after college. As most of you know, or don't, I usually go by Nicole... all my friends from HS, college, and family have always called me that, so it was certainly an adjustment for me. I know it sounds funny, but I actually did start going by my real first name this semester.
It was all fun and games until I had some people calling me Ressiel Nicole, some call me Nicole, and others who call me Ressiel and then I felt like I was going through an identity crisis. LOL. It's all cool though, because all three of those names are the same little Filipino girl and honestly, I'm okay with it. I started playing more of the ukelele and used that as my "study breaks" and finally had the courage to post it on my Snapchat stories and Instagram because I wanted to be more comfortable with that aspect of my identity. Now, some people know me as the "girl who makes up songs about our classes", hahahah.
Speaking of singing, I finally also joined the worship team at my church!! I was in the worship team in high school and college, so being up onstage felt so familiar to me...almost relieving. I get to sing for Jesus, help lead people into worship, AND watch people worship Him (which is honestly my favorite thing ever)! There's just something so beautiful when you watch people become so vulnerable to worship and love on Jesus and feel His presence and His love for them back.
My MPH cohort is so small - about 86 people - and it honestly reminds me of high school sometimes. My graduating high school class was about 318 people, but since the classes here were smaller, for me, I was able to learn better and speak up. I have made lots of new friends from all over the U.S. and the world!! Honestly, I really loved meeting new people and getting to know them and their background. It's crazy to me how some of them just graduated from undergrad while others took a gap year or two like me, and some are full on grown and are married and have kids!!
My classes were also an adjustment to me because before every class started they would say "Howdy" to get the class's attention which was new. Also there were plenty of "TU" jokes to go around which I never really understood...I guess the rivalry is still there from one side huh?
I went to my first and only midnight yell during the semester as well with my friends and let me tell ya, it was intense. Especially since many of my friends and I didn't go to undergrad here and we thought they would actually teach us the yells, but nope. We caught on eventually I think? It was still a fun experience though and I would definitely recommend going at least once. Aggies go hard, I tell y'all.
Speaking of, Aggie football games are a great way to bond. I went to an Aggie game when I wasn't a student last year, but it's so different when you are actually a student. Forgive me Bevo (Hook 'Em forever tho). I ended up actually going to two games, which is way more than I ever did at UT (I only went to one per year). It's still crazy to me though, how Aggies stand the entire time.
I also had a chance to go to my first hockey game ever which was intense...but I loved it. It was a game against UT btw (who I was obviously rooting for b/c I'm loyal). In a sea of maroon, I was the one of the two people wearing burnt orange, but hey! I made friends with the parents of one of the UT hockey players because I just started talking to them - a great bonding experience. I never realized hockey was such an intense sport and they would clap and cheer if someone got shoved against the glass. Although UT lost, it was still a really good game because A&M only won by 1 point.
Since my classes were at 8 am, grad school turned me into a morning person. I've definitely valued sleep more way than I did in undergrad, so I try to be more productive during the day and try not to stay up too late at night. It also helped when I started training for work and I had to be there starting at 6:30 am :-) Now I actually don't mind getting up early just because I have so much more time to do stuff now!! Crazy!!
Fall came around the corner and pretty soon I was decorating pumpkins and celebrating with my family and friends. Fall has become one of my favorite seasons because 1. It's not as hot in Texas kind of and 2. There's so many fall activities that are just so wholesome and cute like pumpkin patch photos, decorating pumpkins, dressing up for Halloween, handing out candy to the neighborhood kids and being told I was a "big kid" and overeating lots of candy!!
I learned so much about friendship this semester - not only because I had to make new friends (again), but also how to balance and keep old friends. As a kid, nobody really tells you that adult friendships are kind of hard. It's a two-way street and sometimes people drift apart and it's normal. Those who want to stay in your lives will find a way to stay in there. I had to learn that this semester especially because there were some friendships I had to let go of since it wasn't a two-way street anymore. I know we are all busy with full-time jobs, families, school and everything else, but it doesn't hurt sometimes to check in on your friends to see how they are doing. It doesn't have to be an everyday or even an every week thing - but checking in on them now and then and actually responding to their messages or calls goes a long way. Putting in effort in a friendship even if it's a "Hey how are you?" or a "Hey miss you!!" truly matters and no matter how "busy" people are - people make time for people and things that are important to them.
Now back to the recap- my family, including my aunt and uncle, and I went to the Renaissance festival too which brought back so many memories from high school when I would go with my theatre class! It was my parents' and aunt's first time and we had so much fun eating turkey legs and seeing all the people dressed up and watching the performances.
The most valuable thing that I've learned this semester is to really just live in the present and to remember that God has me where I need to be. Sometimes I tend to worry about the future too much or look back on the past and wish I could've done things different or better. God has really taught me to enjoy the present and take each day as it comes. I know it sounds really simple, but for me, it was kind of challenging at times. At first, I was really apprehensive about starting grad school here and not really too excited about the upcoming two years, but I had to change my mentality and be more appreciative of this season in my life. After all, not everyone gets the opportunity to pursue graduate school. I may not have imagined my life to be where it is right now, but I am so thankful to be here and I'm here for whatever God has in store for me.
Matthew 6:34 says, "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." This verse has been such a great reminder for me to pay attention to what God is doing right now in my life, the blessings in my life, and all the people He put in there.
Thanksgiving came so fast and pretty soon the semester was over. I had the opportunity to attend two friendsgivings which were a blast because honestly pot lucks are my favorite. My friend and I actually even made a turkey for the first time ever!! It was delicious btw. I had a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and my out-of-state friends who couldn't go home for the break. We ate lots of delicious Filipino food as usual! Spending Thanksgiving with my family made me realize how truly blessed I am that I am able to spend it with them, so I'm glad we were able to be a second family to my friends who couldn't go home.
And just like that it became my favorite time of the year - Christmas time! My family had our tree up since early November because we're Filipinos and you know in the Philippines they are pumped for Christmas starting in September... so if you think about it we were behind. My family and I have a tradition of driving around to see Christmas lights and this year we also attended Christmas in the park which was super fun and family-friendly!
I love this time of the year for many reasons, but especially because of Christmas parties. My parents' life group had a Christmas party with our church family and we just had our annual Brazos Valley Filipino American Community (BVFAC) Christmas party as well! It was a "Pinoy Texas" Christmas theme so we were all dressed up as cowboys and cowgirls. I'm proud to say after 10+ years of living in Texas... I finally own a pair of cowboy boots! Haha.
My heart is truly full and I am just so thankful for everything God has helped me through this semester. I have made amazing friends in grad school that have made this semester so much fun, and although I miss my close friends from high school and undergrad, I am cheering them on because I know they are up to wonderful things!! Being at home with my family has been great and I know I say this every time, but it has made me appreciate my parents and sister even more. I'm grateful for my church family, new friends and old, and I'm super excited for what God has in store for me next semester and 2020!!
The girl with upsidedown dimples