It has occurred to me that I spend a lot of time critiquing academia but I don't spend a lot of time talking about what I love about it. I don't know if it is normal but I have loved my first semester in UConn's philosophy graduate program. When most people ask me about my experience here I tell them that I am living my dream. I truly mean this wholeheartedly.
I love my students. They are insightful and funny. I love that they are receptive to me trying out different teaching strategies. It makes me so happy that they feel comfortable enough with me and with their classmates to tell me what works and what doesn't.
I love the people in my graduate program. I don't know them that well but I love their enthusiasm that they have for their projects. There are so many graduate students in our department who are #goals. They are doing work that matters. It is a beautiful thing to surround yourself with other people who you think are doing work that will help make our world better, or at least push people to think differently or contribute to a particular literature in a cool and meaningful way.
I also love that many of the graduate students have let me pour out my frustrations on them. They have listened to me and they have offered me the best advice that they could give. That is priceless.
I've also loved sitting in on lectures. I love the questions. I love the responses. I love the love for philosophy that the graduate students have. They wear it so nicely. I often just listen in on people and smile at their conversations. It is a great and wonderful thing to be surrounded by people who are having the sort of conversations that they have.
I also love how helpful my professors have been. It is obvious that they feel invested in my growth. That is a heady feeling. The specific way that they do this, along with the way that I have been treated by the graduate students, can be disconcerting sometimes. I have often found myself taken aback at the way that people talk with me, like I am capable and like I am worthy of being here, and like I have good contributions to make to the graduate department. It is nerve wracking but has lit a fire within me.
The professors that I have worked with are awesome in that they really listen to me. They take what I say seriously. They are dedicated to helping me develop the skills that I need to be successful in the discipline. They are also dedicated to helping me understand whatever material we cover. The most beautiful thing that they have given me is their patience. I am not familiar with certain traditions in philosophy and they know that. It is obvious that they take careful care to ensure that I grasp the material. Their desire to help me learn and grow is also priceless.
During my short time at UConn I have learned a little about how academia operates. I have learned about why philosophers use certain methods. I have learned a lot about myself. I am still learning how I can use the various methods that I have been taught to contribute to philosophy in a meaningful way. All in all, I am thankful.