Does a name tag mean I'm officially strapped to this place?

Well this is the start of week four (where has the past month gone?) in Knoxville and after spending the first three in denial, I’m beginning to accept my fate. I’m not gonna lie: after spending 20 months out of school, working outside every day with cattle, it’s a bit of a stretch to adjust to life inside with my nose stuck in books. I spent the first week in shock at being surrounded by this many people again and the next two being overwhelmed by a butt load of information. Talk about hit the ground running…

Joining classes in the middle of the academic year isn’t something that I would advise, neither is joining classes without the immediate prerequisites. However, I woke up this past week and decided that I’m going nowhere if I don’t buck up and accept the challenge. True, it’s going to be a hard row to hoe, but I’m willing to accept it. Gotta think of the glass as half full, not a blockade of epic proportions.

Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties. — Sarah Ban Breathnach

WooHoo for cytokines!

I have two main academic classes. Immune Physiology and Statistics. It’s been a while since I’ve had prerequisites for either and it’s taking some effort to dust off the files in the back of my brain and get back into the swing of things. After spending all weekend getting high from the highlighter notes made in my textbooks (no that doesn’t infer direct sniffing), it’s starting to sink in a little better. I’ve covered the review chapters and am finally getting to the actual class reading material; just in time for exams to start next week! It’s all about the T-cells and B-cells, phagocytosis and immune responses, reading diagnostics and writing abstracts. Confused yet? I am.

Then there’s the presentations I have to prepare. One for my Seminar course and a learning module for Immune Physiology. I’m still working on which marvelous topics to select for these. Something about beef cattle pregnancy and immune response pathways. Oh and then we’re trying to decide exactly what my Master’s thesis will encompass. Yep, still confused.

Then there’s a break (if I’m allowed to call it that) when I’m a teaching assistant for an undergraduate livestock nutrition evaluation and ration formulation class. This once again requires dusting off those old files in the brain and taking note of what I already know. It’s actually kinda fun to review the nutrition notes and write quizzes for the class. Yet, it is frustrating to see students clearly not study effectively for the quiz they knew was coming on Thursday. And it’s fun to talk cattle nutrition with the professor, a topic much more familiar to me than T-helper-cells recognizing class II major histocompatibility cells. Confused, once again.

Understanding immune processes requires a little repetitive reading and focus

Are ya starting to see a pattern? At this point I am really wishing I could have a horse to ride. There would be a lot of good riding time to clear my mind. Until then I’ll have to settle for building up to a few miles a day on the treadmill. I should mention that I took time to fuel my new interest in hockey with a local Friday night game. This week ought to make for a good break from class as I am headed to the 2012 Cattle Industry Conference in Nashville. Spending 3 days fraternizing with all of my good acquaintances in the cattle community should be a good change of pace. That way I can come back and hit the books again next week.

Think of the glass as half full, accept the challenges ahead, and grasp the opportunity to learn some fundamentals to the things I love most in life. I may be stuck in an office with my nose in a book today (and for at least the next two years), but I guarantee ya one day I’ll find myself back in the world and wishing I had a warm cup of coffee as that cold front pushes through.

See ya on the other side of this chapter…