Limbo. The space between graduating undergrad and being accepted into a graduate school. During the time up until my acceptance, I didn’t know what part of the country I would be in. Whether I would be on the west coast, east coast, or close to home. It was quite nerve racking to leave my jobs that I love, to leave my hometown where I knew everyone and move to a place where I could barely get to campus from my apartment. It was scary not knowing anyone, so I decided to either find a job or volunteer. As it turned out, with my acceptance to graduate school at Eastern Michigan, I also decided to volunteer at the LINGUIST List.
My first day was full of reading, learning, and socializing. It was difficult to learn everything that I needed to know to start on my first projects (LL-MAP and Public Relations), but somehow I managed. I am proud to feel part of a community here working on projects that are much bigger than myself and have pushed me to my limits when it comes to doing problem-solving in new computer programs. It’s weird to think that my knowledge of linguistics finally matters beyond affecting my GPA– my work assignments aren’t just homework assignments any more. If I mess up, I won’t just get a lower grade on the assignment; I will mess up a part of a collective knowledge base for the linguistic community. The pressure to remain accurate can be stressful, but I feel it has allowed me to become more confident in my abilities. I know I know the material inside and out. I will find the right answer.
Perhaps getting involved would have been easier if I had taken a different road; a different path that was already planned. I could have worked at a restaurant, I could have worked anywhere, but I chose to work somewhere where my abilities as an aspiring linguist would be tested. I am even more grateful that LINGUIST List thought that I was worth it and hired me to become a part of the team.
In the end, applying to graduate school was quite stressful, but I feel that it has opened doors for me. Without being in a graduate program, I would not have even dreamed about doing work of the caliber I do now. The work to get here was difficult, but I believe that it was worth every bit. Robert Frost said it best with his poem The Road Not Taken:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
My advice to you is this: get involved. Find something that you want to do as a career and just go for it. Don’t let your fears of being in a completely new environment stop you. Take it. Run with it. Take the plunge and go.