Saturday, October 25, 2014

What I Did Over the Summer: Matthew B.

Today we have a student blog post by Matthew B.  Enjoy!

What did you do over the summer?
Hi everyone. Today I’m going to talk about my transition to DC. As a first year who jumped right into SAIS from an international work experience, I think I have something to offer.  
First and foremost, I just want to say that though it has been a little jarring at times, it has also been very rewarding. Like some of you out there, my work prior to SAIS was contractually bound–meaning, I couldn’t just get up and leave to start the school year without first clearing everything with my boss well in advance. I was fortunate, and they were very supportive though sad to see me go. I ended up working until the very end of August, and flew in from Korea the evening before orientation starts. (Jet lag was just part of the adventure!) For this year’s class, orientation was the last Thursday and Friday of August, with classes starting up the next workday.  (Oh, and for anyone curious, I was working in Seoul. If you’re over there now, 안녕!)
Finding a place to live was a little difficult, since I was 16 time zones away. Fortunately, SAIS sets up an incoming class facebook page that makes finding potential roommates easier, and they have lots of great sources, like this tool: https://housing.sais-jhu.edu/. While I know a lot of people who found great deals through craigslist (and in DC the housing market has huge turnover, so people found arrangements all throughout the summer before, which was nice), I myself ended up finding a place with an old college roommate who was in DC for unrelated work.
In terms of finding a work-life balance, well, I’ll probably be posting a lot more about this as the year goes on. But when I first got here, SAIS hosted lots of great events where I was able to meet people from all backgrounds and concentrations. Before long, I found a great group of friends and found ample time to get to know DC–in the beginning. After the first few weeks, I definitely had to sacrifice some evenings to study. However, the hardest part of a work-life balance for me hasn’t been how much weekend time to devote to studying, but rather how much weekday time to devote to studying while at SAIS. There are so many great lectures, panels, and conferences on any given day, that it has been a real challenge to figure out what I can participate in, and where I have to draw a line. Its the weekday that, for me, has been the hardest part of the transition back to school so far. But like I said, its been a great adventure right from the get-go–and I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
–Matthew B., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger