I believe that much of what we interpret about life is based on our expectations. Now that it is officially the end of my very first semester here at Columbia College Chicago in the Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling, MA program, I have been finding myself in a recurring state of reflection. Looking back on what I had originally expected this experience to look like for me; I am realizing now how much I have truly learned about myself, and about the actual reality of graduate school.
Before I actually moved to Chicago to start the DMT&C program, I had many original thoughts and expectations about what my experience may look like. Some of these wonderments were about my future classmates. It was an odd concept for me to imagine at first. Entering a program of only nineteen, after I had just graduated from MSU with a class of almost 10,000. I could only imagine that this program would demand a sense of intimacy and collaboration. What I did not expect was the depth of vulnerability and support which would underlie the program. Our interpersonal relationships with each other have been one of the most foundational aspects of my success here so far. I hoped so greatly that I would develop new friendships during my time here, however I never realized how powerful these relationships would become. I can already tell that some of the friendships I have made here so far, I will have for life.
Everyone talks about the workload of grad school and how the stress of attaining a bachelor’s degree pales in comparison. I have to admit that with this kind of talk I was a bit terrified to start my first semester. How could any of the work possibly get any harder? However, after experiencing my first official semester of grad school, I can finally say that I get it now. The intense workload isn’t simply based on the fact that the classes are more demanding. I truly believe that if you are willing to take your education to the graduate level, you are passionate enough within your field that you WANT to be pushed. Along with this idea, your professors care about your journey here just as much as you do. It really is a collaborative experience and they expect just as much from you, as you do from them. It’s great to have your fellow classmates as a support system as well, while we all endure the long caffeine-infused, sleepless nights of studying. Its hard, but all rewarding experiences in life usually are.
I first had this assumption that with my tremendous new workload I would have no time for dance, work or any real life experiences. It turns out I was completely wrong! Even though my workload has gotten more intense, I have always seemed to make time for myself. Chicago is filled with so many opportunities to meet new people and try new things. There are countless studios where we can take dance classes, some of them being at Hubbard Street ,Visceral and The Dance Center. Within our cohort, we also have the opportunity to teach classes for each other as a way to save money while continuing our love of pedagogy! MOVED has also provided us with a way to continue dancing, choreographing, and performing. We have had many opportunities to collaborate with other students in the therapy community as well. Just recently we collaborated with the art therapy students at SAIC in an arts-based DIY justice movement promoting women’s rights. We also have many volunteer opportunities such as Caring for Kids. Through this program, we help facilitate dance classes for kids with physical disabilities in order to increase selective motor control of limbs while promoting socialization and artistic expression. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
Looking back at my experiences thus far at Columbia College Chicago, I can honestly say that some of my prior expectations didn’t necessarily align with my reality. It turns out that my journey here has become even more than I could have ever imagined, and I am so grateful for every learning experience as I continue to take on this new chapter of my life!