Oh goodness, how have the first three weeks of school already gone by?! My name is Gillian Koch, and I’m a first-year student in the Master’s in Clinical Mental Health program! I moved here from beautiful Minneapolis, MN, but I was born and raised in Tampa, FL. As you can probably guess, there have been a TON of new things in my life recently! Just for fun, I made a list of what’s new these days:
- New region! Although parts of Florida certainly have a Southern feel, Tampa is not one of them. (We sometimes joke, “You’ve got to go north to get to the South!”) I’ve got all sorts of things to learn about living in the South. People have been really friendly here – for example, a woman who was helping me bag groceries recently introduced herself, gave me a big welcome, and told me to come back and ask her anytime I needed help! I’ve also been learning new lingo and trying different foods. My roommate even introduced me to fried green tomatoes! It’s been a real treat living here so far, and I can’t wait to learn more.
- New apartment! This is actually my first time living in an apartment; my undergraduate school required most students to live on campus all four years, and I spent last year living in a Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) house. It’s been really exciting to meet our neighbors, decorate the apartment, watch Gilmore Girls with my roommate, and explore the park next to the apartment complex.
- New dog! I’ve been waiting five years to get a dog, and the time finally came! Friends, I’d like to introduce you to Gracie (see picture). She’s part beagle, part some other breed, and 100% wonderful! We’ve had a mere three weeks together and I’m already completely and totally smitten.
- New lifestyle! My undergrad years were crammed full of as many classes, extracurriculars, and activities with friends as I could handle. Although it was an unbelievably fun lifestyle, it was a little too busy to keep up. I took a year off between graduating college and starting school here, and that in-between year was made up of 40-hour workweeks, required LVC house events, and lots of free time. It was an enjoyable lifestyle (I loved my job!), but I felt a bit directionless. These days, I’m taking five classes and working 20 hours a week. It’s been a wonderful balance of work, learning, and playing (mostly with Gracie) so far! I’m super grateful to have found a good balance and hope things remain relatively balanced in the semesters to come.
- And finally, the most obvious… new school! I chose William and Mary’s School of Education for so many reasons: it has gorgeous and environmentally responsible facilities, top-notch professors, and some of the kindest classmates that I found anywhere. This school has such a rich history and a true commitment to improving our community. I’ll be honest and tell you that my undergraduate school, St. Olaf, has a really big place in my heart – my four years there shaped me in such a positive way! But every experience I’ve had at William and Mary so far has shown me that there’s room in my heart for a second school. I’m so excited to spend the next two years here.
Thanks for reading this post! Stay tuned in the upcoming months for more life updates, pictures of Gracie, and stories of what life is like here in the School of Education. I hope you’re having a great day wherever you are!