Granny or Grad Student

A few months ago I was enjoying the finest cuisine Bloomington has to offer in the form of Kilroy’s $2 Tuesday quesadillas with a few other penny-pinching grad students. I had eaten my full of the cheesy goodness, so I pulled out the Tupperware I had brought with me, the one I purposefully carried to $2 Tuesdays knowing there would be left overs. I then proceeded to pack away my leftovers and the leftovers of my comrades who hadn’t so brilliantly thought ahead.

It was then that fellow grad student Josh Sites looked at me weird. Getting slightly self-conscience, I said defensively, “What?! I’m a grad student!” as if that would explain what I now realize must have looked like irrational hoarding behavior. “Grad student or granny?” Josh quipped back.

I laughed with him then realizing how much my life has changed in the past two years, how fully I had embraced the grad school life and how that acceptance in many ways aligns my behaviors more with that of senior citizens than of a 20-or-30-something. With that in mind, here are five more behaviors that are proudly shared by grad students and grannies (and grandpas) alike.

1) Clipping coupons for EVERYTHING.

It wasn’t until coming to grad school that I really started to appreciate that infinitely long strip of CVS coupons that come with your receipt. Now I appreciate the money-saving tips my grandma gave me and I clip coupons with glee. I am never satisfied unless I’m saving at least 15% per purchase; although I one day hope to reach the 20% savings mark my grandma manages to hit.

2) Going to bed at 9 pm because you are legitimately tired.

Before grad school, trying to go to bed early usually meant drinking some Valerian tea and listening to soothing wave sounds to convince my body to give in early. Now, sheer mental exhaustion makes it easy to fall asleep at an embarrassingly early 9 pm, just after Jeopardy. Some nights my grandma and I are definitely on the same schedule.

3) Carrying around giant bags with way too much stuff in them.

Whether it is a purse, a backpack or one of those “hip” shoulder bags, grad students all have to carry around bags that are way too big. Just like grannies, you never know when an emergency might strike so you need to carry around all the necessities including: aspirin, Band-Aids, protein bars, Starbucks Double Shot, your Chromebook, red pens, pencils, and an extra notebook. Our bags are more stuffed than Mary Poppins!

4) Wearing “comfortable clothes” all the times.

Grad school is no longer a time of vanity. Much like grannies, we give into the comfort of sweatpants, crocs and buns, which are not only comfortable but practical given the hours upon hours of sitting that are mandatory in grad school.

5) Not understanding today’s youth.

Even though many of us were “the youth” just a few years ago or are still currently clumped into that group by elders, there is something about living in a college town and teaching 18 year-olds, that just makes you shake your head and yell “get off my lawn,” something I actually yelled at a herd of youth who had congregated on my porch over Little 5 weekend. I definitely channel my inner granny on the weekends downtown.

Although sometimes it seems slightly depressing to have gone from “youth” to “granny” in two short years, what grad school has actually taught most of us are the lessons that grannies know well: life is too short to care what other people think of you. So grab your big bag, your crocs and your Tupperware and let’s have a night out on the town … as long as I’m home watching “Murder She Wrote” by 8 pm.

Things Grad Students Like

By Mona Malacane

I imagine that for many people the last two weeks of the semester can feel something like this …

the end of the semester

But the end is almost here everyone! And if you need some inspiration, motivation, or tips on procrastination to get you through it, please continue reading.

 ———–

Easy scheduling of a committee meeting. Seriously, opening an all green Doodle is like heaven.

easy committee scheduling

Polite emails that include a greeting, a coherent message, and then a thank you.

polite email

Two words: Free food.

free food

… and $2 Tuesdays at Sports.

2 dollar at sports better

Superior coffee and non-routine refreshments.

superior coffee and nonroutine refreshments

When people come to your office hours to talk about something other than grades, grade adjustments, grade disputes …

office hours

That feeling after you give a flawless presentation of interesting results and answer every question successfully.

flawless presentation better

When students laugh at your corny jokes.

laughs at joke

Getting something (anything) right and someone else notices.

getting someting right

When your conference registration is waived!

waived conference regis

Positive AI evaluations.

positive AI evals

When students pay attention and engage during 9am Friday discussion sections.

when students pay attention

Significant p values.

sgnificant pvalues

Thank you, Tamera

We at the blog want to wish Tamera the best of luck in her new endeavor and take the opportunity to express the enormous amount of gratitude we – grad students, faculty, and staff – have for everything she does. You are our guru, Tamera, and your successor will have house-sized shoes to fill.

hero

Random Picture of the Week

WonderLab
Media scientists (Teresa, Nic, and Rob – behind the camera) at Wonderlab’s “Real Life Science: Get Techie” event for upper elementary to high school students.

Sine Qua Nonsense

The Untold Story of the Original Telecom Grad Blog

As the Department of Telecommunications morphs into the Media School’s Communication Science and Media Arts & Production units, the Telecom Grad blog is also changing. Before we move forward, we must look back. Let’s explore the little known origins of the blog you are reading right now.

The Telecom blog was founded in the fall of 2010 by Director of Graduate Studies Harmeet Sawhney and the first bloggers, Nicky Lewis and Katie Birge. Their idea was to revive a tradition from the very first Telecom Department in history. Oxford University established its Telecom Grad Scroll in 1201. Since e-mail was a few centuries away back then, DGS Harrold Seaford, Duke of Texturia, would send Graduate Criers to faculty, staff and graduate students’ castles every Monday morning.

The grad scroll was groundbreaking for focusing on people’s hobbies rather than their research and official duties. It was especially innovative considering the fact that the notions of hobbies and leisure time weren’t even a thing during the medieval era.

“Hear ye, hear ye! Assistant Professor John Whitesmith enjoyeth forging his own swords during his spare time,” read a Crier from one early scroll. “Sayeth he, ‘it sootheth me while I worrieth about my chances of getting tenure. Also, it scareth the faculty members who may think of voting against my promotion.’”

In the 13th Century, stories about Intramural Battleship were very common, though post-game interviews with the players were rare. Let’s just say that college sports were very dangerous back in the day, even more than football.

The Grad Scroll was discontinued in 1228 by decree of the king, a graduate of the rival School of Mass Communication at Cambridge. “My alma matter shall remain the coolest of Comm departments,” he declared. “No more stories about extracurricular pipe organ lessons in Oxford!”

No king can decree to shut down the Telecom Grad Blog, but its fate is still up in the air, at least for ratings purposes, even if those behind the scenes know exactly what’s going to happen. The semester ends with a cliffhanger. Tune in in the fall to discover whether the blog will be permanently assimilated as the Media School Blog, wake up to discover this whole year was just a dream, decide to return to the island with Jack, find out who shot JR and Mr. Burns, or meet an untimely death!

sine_qua_nonsense

Telecom alumna, Dr. Amanda Lotz, talks TV and her interdisciplinary journey

By: Niki Fritz

According to Dr. Amanda Lotz, the plan wasn’t always academia. She started out as a communications major at DePauw University, interested in management. But after one truly awful internship in the cellular telecom industry, Lotz jokes she “was just horrified by the real world.” She was tossing around the idea of going to law school when a fellow student’s presentation on the impact of medical dramas changed her mind.

“A light bulb went off and I was like ‘Oh, that’s how you talk about TV.’ I applied to grad schools and got into [the Department of Telecommunications at IU],” Lotz says. “The first week of grad school I thought, ‘This is what undergrad would be like if people did the reading.’ I loved it.”

Lotz jokingly referred to her last year as a master’s student at Indiana University as the “year of the divorce.” In 1997, the year Lotz completed her MA, cultural studies faculty left Telecommunications.  But her own studies benefitted from the presence of both social scientific and critical studies faculty in the same department, as she got exposure to both research on industry practices and critical studies. She in particular got interested in gender related questions in course of her studies at IU, which led her to pursue her PhD at the University of Texas in the Department of Radio-Television-Film.

At Texas, Lotz combined feminist critical studies with TV industry practices, a difficult feat considering the constantly changing TV landscape around the turn of the century. While Lotz’s dissertation focused on textual analysis of female characters, right around the time she was finishing her PhD there was an explosion of new female characters such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After receiving her degree, Lotz spent time reframing her first book, which was based on her dissertation, called “Redesigning Women: Television after the Network Era.”

Lotz landed in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, where she took on her next big project, “The Television Will Be Revolutionized,” a book which questions the general notion that TV was dying and contemplates the post-network era.

After tenure, Lotz explains that she was able to put more time and energy into projects she wanted like writing a text book on media critique and having children. Eventually, Lotz returned to explore the other side of “Redesigning Women,” the changing role of men in television.

“When I finished writing ‘Redesigning Women,’ I knew I wanted to eventually write a book about men although I didn’t know what it would be about … ‘Cable Guys’ was a trudge. I would reinvent the book every summer when I would think about it,” Lotz explains of the writing process. “Finally I got ‘Cable Guys’ published and then it was time to redo ‘The Television Will Be Revolutionized.’”

Lotz also contributes to the popular press, writing for atenna.com and salon.com.

“You have to jump through enough hurdles to [write opinion pieces],” Lotz says. “For me part of it is the conversations in the field are a little navel gazing. Writing for popular press forced me to think about why this matters. In trying to translate these things to a broader audience, I am trying to participate in the cultural conversation.”

Lotz says for her it always comes back to the questions. She told me of the first time she met Dr. Annie Lang.  It was at the orientation for her incoming class, where Annie asked her “What questions do you want to ask?” Lotz admits that she was a bit intimidated and unsure of her answer.

“I answered something I’m sure but it has taken some time to figure out the answer. I’ve realize it is all about questions,” Lotz explains. “The method and the theory comes later, but the core of it is the questions. That is most fun part of this job.”

Signing Off

By Mona Malacane

To quote Abraham Lincoln (the subject of one my favorite blog interviews) it was four score and seven years ago that the blog began, with Nicky Lewis and Katie Birge at the helm. Actually, instead of 87 years, it’s been about 5, so I’m exaggerating a little.

In these five years, you have read stories ranging from the art of tea and beer to lucky purple socks to words of advice from the department guru Tamera. We have featured the achievements of grad students and faculty, introduced new faculty and staff, and pondered the ebb and flow of the building buzz. If someone were to visit the grad blog to learn more about our program they would see that we are a group of hard-working, creative, entrepreneurial, fun, eclectic, inquisitive, and close-knit group of people. To borrow Harmeet’s favorite words, we try to capture the texture and uniqueness of the people in our department to bring you the human side of things.

Why all the nostalgia? Following the tradition of past writers, I am writing my (second to) last post as a reflection on the past, a look forward to the future, and a thank you to the faithful blog readers. In my two year tenure as a blog writer, I have written quite a few posts that I hope you all have enjoyed. A lot of energy, work, and planning goes into these posts – writing them can be a struggle to balance the right amount of content and intrigue while still keeping things light. I can usually tell whether I’ve achieved this level of equilibrium or completely missed the mark from the email Harmeet sends on Sunday evenings after he has read and edited the posts.

Sometimes he loves them!

Sometimes he loves them!

Other times, I can tell he was underwhelmed.

Other times, I can tell he was underwhelmed.

Whether my post was on point or not, for me, the most rewarding aspect of writing for the blog has been the opportunity to talk to and learn from people that I may not otherwise have had the common ground to interact with*. In academia, it is far too easy to gradually entrench yourself in a specific topic area and collaborate with the same/similar people. Yes, you interact with others in classes, when socializing, gathering data, and in the grad lab, but the bulk of our work is often done in isolation. Sometimes we just don’t have the time to make the effort to meet new people. Even if I haven’t kept in contact with everyone I have interviewed over the past four semesters, I am grateful for weekly assignment that required me to step outside of my box and into someone else’s for 30 minutes to an hour for an interview. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and all of our readers.

Every blog writer has a different taste and style, and adds something unique to the blog. Nicky and Katie are the OG’s, the ground breakers who worked extremely hard and paved the way for the rest of us; Mike and Ken wrote beautiful, almost artful posts; Teresa and Edo kept you on your toes with really unique stories (and kept things afloat while Harmeet was on sabbatical). I’d like to think that Niki and I have added a touch of humor, although Edo has definitely cornered the market on puns and satire.

Stylistic eras notwithstanding, we have all served as kind of de facto historians for the department and the blog has become our chronicle. My chapter is closing but a new one will open next year. New beginnings are on the horizon and the blog will be there to document them.

*The Monday morning croissants and French press coffee are a close second though.

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