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I started my 2nd year of grad school

For the past two days, I was at my grad school. We were learning the WAIS and WISC assessments in person, so we had to come in before school technically started. I feel exhausted. NOT because of the school or because of the people in it! The people at my school are a delight, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word. I did not expect such positive, kind, and intelligent individuals who are all as passionate as me about what we are learning. Sure, I saw them over zoom last year, but meeting everyone in person changed everything!

The area near my school.

That said, I wish I could take my graduate school, roll it up into a tiny ball, and magically transport it to a much safer location.
I take the subway to school and hold pepper spray slightly aloft just in case. I wish I could tell you I’m kidding, but in the two days I was here, I have seen:

1. Human urine by the subway (and poop, but we won’t talk about that)
2. A woman trying to kick down the doors of the moving subway (and subsequently reaching down her pants)
3. A homeless man yelling unintelligibly, gesturing wildly, and cursing
4. A fist fight in front of my school including four homeless people and many curse words (I had to come in from the back).

Guys. This was in two days. I’m a woman who has to be in this area until around 7:30 pm for class. For context, we are a few blocks away from skid row. And I will be walking from my school to the subway in the dark.
I feel exhausted because I am constantly looking over my shoulder.
And don’t get me wrong. I appreciate diversity; LA has people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. I also really like my school, both staff and students. But I don’t think that diversity should mean going to school in an area with a notoriously high crime rate.

I will tell you about the good things now, because despite how stressed I am about safety, there are many good things. First, I love my mornings. I love crisp morning air and getting things done on the ride over.

I love waking up early to seize the day and dressing up for it.

I do work on the subway. It’s extremely fast, because it goes underground.

One time I got a subway car all to myself!

When I get to school early (which is basically every day, considering that I zoom over at a speed that would make the Flash jealous), I go to the gym. Ironically, considering the location, this gym is one of the nicest gyms that I’ve ever gone to.

In the gym’s dressing room!

Also, and this is not to be understated, I love the caliber of in-person instruction. Yesterday, for the first time, I realized how much more interesting and challenging it is to learn about the subtests of the WAIS IV in person.

I practiced it last night using myself as a client and myself as an examiner 😂

My testing partner was also perfect to work with. Sometimes, my nervousness gets the better of me, and you have to be a very calm person to administer properly. Today, toward the end of class, everyone was talking about passing or not passing their administration test. I admitted that I would be more embarrassed to have everyone find out I failed than to actually fail!
“How would you feel if I failed?” my testing partner asked.
I shrugged, realizing that I would be indifferent. “There’s no shame.”
That took away some of the pressure. Somehow, though, all of my studying paid off! I passed on the first try, despite all of the tricks used to get us to mess up a little. My proctor even complimented my confidence. Go figure.

Toward the end of my first day, I had something to look forward to: my boyfriend drove to Downtown LA to visit. Apparently, my school only lets specific guests enter, and my poor boyfriend was NOT on this list. So he waited in the lobby, and since he arrived early, it was a 40 minute wait. It was a long day for us both. The rice rolls I made to take with me got completely messed up in my bag, so I didn’t have much lunch. I happened to mention this to my boyfriend, not expecting anything except “oh, that sucks, I’m sorry”. Instead, this guy surprises me with a delicious pastry from the bakery across the street, and then he took me to try a tasty Salvadorian meal called a Popusa!

Popusa pic!

Not only is “Popusa” very fun to say, but it’s also delicious. It’s a handmade corn tortilla filled with cheese, mushrooms, and spinach. On top, they added spicy coleslaw.

On our way back, I joked that this part of LA is one of the best places to go on a first date, because your partner will be all over you, clinging to you out of fear 😂. But gosh, I feel lucky because my boyfriend managed to turn a very long day into a day to remember!

When I got back from school, I immediately took off all the clothes I wore on the subway and resisted the urge to spend the rest of the day showering. Instead, I went to the grocery store and learned a valuable life lesson: never go to the grocery store on a Monday night. The line to check out wrapped around the store. And, because I was shopping for a family of 5 who eats like a family of 10, I had basically all of Ralph’s packed into my cart. All I wanted to do was go home. I decided to play a game where I think nonstop about the things that I’m grateful for. As I stood there in my business casual clothing and the minutes ticked on, I thought of: my friends, my family, my cartful of food, how lucky I was to drive and be independent, and how thankful I was to be a future psychologist. Even as the line showed no signs of moving, I noticed how happy and light I felt. When I finally reached the cashier, I was face to face with a man who was clearly tired. I could tell they were understaffed here, so I thanked him for being such a champ about it.

I finally got home that night and just about collapsed on my bed. Today, I had an equally long day, and also a 2 hour session for Continuity Care in the evening. But I’m going to get used to this routine eventually, and to the area that my school is in. Just you wait!


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Hi everyone! I started my doctorate in clinical psychology in fall 2020. A google search revealed that there are no current grad school blogs for psychology students. Anyway, I happen to know a girl who wants to document her journey to getting a doctorate (spoiler: it's me). Welcome. Hope you stay awhile!

2 thoughts on “I started my 2nd year of grad school

  1. In a perverse way, describing your safety fears mentioned one of the reasons that (as much as I miss them) I’m glad my daughters are growing up in the US rather than Australia: you can at least carry pepper spray for self-protection. Over here, sadly, carrying pepper spray, a taser, a sound-alarm, a baton, and most-definitely a knife or firearm for self-defence are all prohibited (and would likely result in gaol time). Predictably, in large parts of my city it simply isn’t safe for women to be out after dark. The restrictions on being equipped for self-defence have, in a bitter irony, made the city less safe for 50% of the population.


  2. You have such a good attitude about the challenges you face! I think your gratitude makes all the difference, as well as your curiosity about the world around you. Maybe except the pee and poop, lol. Don’t need to be curious about that haha.


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