Flying Fish

Blue Skies, How I Miss Thee
by Nicole Carlozo -- February 13th, 2011

The skies were blue in Durham yesterday. The air was warm and all traces of Thursday’s “snow” (aka. frost) were gone. Of course, I only caught a glimpse of this as I trekked into the GIS lab.

While I spent my day arguing with the computer, I couldn’t help thinking about why I had come to graduate school in the first place. A list of responses was appropriate.

“To find a niche”

“To get a job”

“To challenge myself”

“To decipher the foreign world of policy”

“To make a difference”

“To delve into interdisciplinary studies”

“To meet new people” (They call that “networking” here)

Can you guess my number one reason? I’m confident in saying that my calling – my reason for studying at Duke – is fairly simple. I applied to the MEM program in hopes of using my God-given talents “to protect the environment.” Period. But things are never really that simple.

Exhibit A: Yesterday I found myself glued to the computer screen all day, mumbling incoherently as the program crashed repeatedly with no warning. Not an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately. In my journey towards conservation, I sure wasn’t spending very much time in the environment that I treasured so deeply. No, the irony wasn’t lost on me.

Exhibit B: The reality of my lacking summer plans hit me last week. With Masters Project ideas scampering through my head, I set out on my internet search to find the “perfect internship.” I soon found that in order to find the perfect internship, I’d probably have to create it. Time was quickly sucked away as I scoured the internet for research opportunities and sent a plethora of emails to colleagues and internship directors. While I should have been studying qualitative research methods or fisheries economics, I found myself writing cover letter after cover letter. Definitely not the “challenging” work I’d hoped for when I committed to graduate school, but I guess challenging in other respects.

Exhibit C: As classes become more time-demanding and my free time is filled with summer job hunting, I can’t help but acknowledge a disconnect between me and the world. Somehow, I don’t think Yahoo News is sufficiently keeping me up to speed with the affairs of the world.

Just as Durham’s blue skies disappear from view when I enter the LSRC, sometimes it’s hard to see the direct connection between where I am now, my goals, and my future. I think the common theme here is time and sacrifice.

But truthfully, I’m happiest when buried under a pile of books and tucked into a nook at the library. If only the GIS lab were outside. I don’t think I’d mind the program crashing if I could take in some fresh air and sunlight throughout the struggle.

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