4th year, fall semester: some life updates
It’s currently 12:06AM. I had an assignment due earlier for Nutrition Assessment and got that submitted. Finished all my rounds on call in residence for the night and praying it stays quiet until 8am. I’m currently lying on the couch in my suite’s lounge – which, despite the permanent butt indents and slight lumpiness from years (maybe decades?) of use, is pretty comfortable.
I haven’t made a blog post in a while (because life is busy) but here are some hot life updates and brain dumps for my 19 email subscribers. This is going to be a little chaotic since I’m usually asleep by now. Why am I writing a blog post past my bedtime in the middle of the busiest week (so far) of the semester? I don’t know, but I’m going to label it as self care and leave it at that.
For anyone outside of the UofG Applied Human Nutrition bubble, the fall semester of the 4th year of our program is known to be a really busy, heavy, stressful semester. Part of this is due to a heavy course load, the other due to stress regarding graduate program applications.
This past week has been especially hectic. See below:
The first half of the semester (scary to think it’s already passed by) was mostly focused on work, classes, training, and dragon boat recruitment stuff. Things have shifted a little this week where BOOM! I suddenly have a bunch of meetings and webinars regarding graduate school applications. *insert half-hearted woohoo*
Let’s break down all of these commitments:
1. School, obvi
This semester, I’ve got a full course load with: Nutrition Assessment, Clinical Nutrition II (my heaviest but also most favourite course), Nutrition Education, and Professional Issues. Additionally, I’m also completing my undergraduate thesis (which counts as that fifth course) with Drs. Paula Brauer and Janis Randall Simpson examining the history of Dietitians of Canada. We’re only just beginning the lit review process but I’m expecting to learn a lot out of this experience.
A lot of these courses are fairly assignment-heavy, several of which require group work. It’s nice to be able to sit down with group members in person, on campus this year to work on things together, rather than having to connect remotely. These group meetings do take good chunks of time out of my week though, so it’s a little mentally fatiguing (despite typically being reasonably productive and forcing me to dedicate time to those projects – which are all good things).
2. Training (Dragon Boat – PDBC)
My body hurts.
I made the decision a few months ago to try out for the 24U National Team for the 2023 season and hopefully earn the opportunity to compete at the 16th World Nations Championships in Seville, Spain. Definitely wouldn’t be able to make the team if tryouts were tomorrow, but I’ve got about a year more to prepare for the first round, and I’m feeling hopeful. Currently training 8 times a week, which means some double days, but I’ve been pretty consistent for the past few months and it feels sustainable.
My coach has made us a gorgeous program to follow in preparation for Worlds in Sarasota next year as well as NT tryouts. I’ve been feeling myself get stronger (and watching my quads get a little bigger), and it’s worth the a) almost crying in the gym after 10×10 back squats and b) DOMS all day every day in every muscle.
I’m feeling hopeful for my chances of making at least the women’s team if I keep working hard (not so sure about mixed … top 10 in the country is a hard goal).
I’m lucky to have people in my network who support me and cheer me on, and a community of other athletes that are also working hard.
3. Grad school apps
Two modes: 1) oh my god this is so stressful I have to submit so many things what if they don’t like me what if I don’t get into any program and I can’t be an RD, 2) wait I’m actually pretty awesome and a really well-rounded candidate (and I just need to show that off in the best way so these schools can see it too).
Honestly though, I’m incredibly grateful for all the connections I’ve built with mentors around me over the years and their continued support. It’s been very helpful to be able to set up meetings to ask for advice and opinions from folx who have more experience and knowledge of both the field and what these programs may be looking for. High five to my past self for making and maintaining these connections to help set me up for success in present day.
There’s a good deal to think about here.
How can I perfect my CV? Letters of intent?
Who should I select for my references (still finalizing this decision)?
What am I looking for in a dietetics program, and which school is truly the best fit for me?
It’s exciting work, though. It’s something I can work on and actually get lost in it. Perhaps it’s because of how impactful and important it feels (“your future depends on it” kinda vibe), or even just because it’s very much for me and no one else.
4. Final year on staff, and in res
It’s my 3rd and final year working with Student Housing Services. My students are a good bunch, I’ve connected with them fairly well, they’re reasonably engaged during community programming, and there don’t seem to be any significant challenges work-wise. I’m not sure if it’s just me being experienced and good at my job at this point, or if it’s my students themselves and just being lucky with the community that I got. Probably a combination of both.
The first month was obviously a rough one for work. I was on call almost every day in September (for the first half) since we don’t have a whole lot of returners on our staff team this year (thanks COVID). Plus, September just tends to be busier because students are still forming those initial connections and getting settled into residence and to campus/university life as a whole.
It’s getting a little better now that it’s October, I just have to really make sure I take time to reach out to those students that I don’t see as often.
5. Everything else
Questions I ask myself: Why do I have so many extracurriculars? Why am I on a gazillion (more like 5) committees/councils?? Answer: because my past self was an eager beaver. Makes my CV look real nice though (and is also pretty good for the personal character development and goal of being a well-rounded cool human).
Guelph Dragon Boat: 3rd and final year of my presidency (Co-President this year though, thankfully) and it’s shaping up to be a really good way to go! Our September-mid October recruitment season has done pretty well with lots of excited and committed new faces. The energy here is GOOD. The excitement that our rookies are bringing to practices makes my heart happy – I’m just so glad to be able to create this space for them and share the love for the sport with more people.
The rest here is just a list: Applied Human Nutrition Student Association, Waterloo-Wellington Eating Disorders Coalition, Sexual Violence Committee, Athletics EDI Committee, Sustainable Residence Committee … (:
You may ask, “Sophia, how do you do it all?” Depending on the day, the answer is either “I don’t know” or just “I don’t” – and always paired with a sarcastic half-smile.
Rough timeline of longer-term life goals: RD by 2024; Married + with a mortgage by 2026; First kid before 2030. Dog/cat somewhere in between all of that. We’ll see where that plan goes, but we’re currently on track.
Career-wise, I’m possibly looking to do a few years jumping around between clinical specialties just to get experience and learn more about different patient conditions. Plus, Clinical II is 100000% my favourite course right now. I just find all of it so fascinating and interesting, that I’d love to spend some time working in that aspect of the field first.
Don’t get me wrong, eating disorder treatment/recovery is still my primary passion, but I’ve been doing some thinking recently and have concluded (as of now) that I don’t need to rush into it. I’m allowed to mosey around and do some learning and personal development before I jump in. And that is valid and 100% okay, and I will still be impacting lives regardless of where I work.
and then to change the world …
I have this vision, this project I want to create, that will help combat underrepresentation of non-hetero/cis/white practitioners and demolish barriers to inclusive care. I’m not going to share the details on the internet just yet (in case it jinxes it or someone steals it), but it’s there. Stick around – you might hear about it later.
If you read this whole diary entry of a post, thank you. In the meantime, I have a bunch of photos on my computer from a year ago that are edited and ready to go. They’ll get on here eventually, but for now this blog is a once-in-a-while brain dump with site traffic fueled primarily by Pinterest until I have time to actually create. Toodles!