Today is my first day as a graduate student at NYU Steinhardt. I’m feeling a bit nervous, but mostly excited. January 23rd has been circled on my calendar for quite some time!

My first class is at 2pm – Nutrition & Health – and my second class is at 4:55pm – Intro to Food & Food Science. Both are in the same lecture hall, with a ten minute break in between, so I get to stay put from 2pm until 6:35pm.

I received all my textbooks in the mail over the weekend. I still can’t believe that a stack of five books that I’m only using for one semester cost me $690. Sigh. Hopefully they’ll be useful for reference later on, particularly when I’m studying for the RD exam. If you’re wondering why they don’t look particularly advanced, that’s because I have about a year and a half of undergraduate prerequisites to complete before I actually begin my graduate work. Thankfully, it’s interesting stuff (for the most part – can’t say I’m excited for Orgo this summer), and apparently (so I’m told) I won’t be the only older student in these classes. Still, I’m sure it will feel a bit weird to be surrounded by college kids – then again, it will probably feel strange simply being in a classroom again! I’ll keep you posted.

I managed to get a decent night of sleep – my white noise iPhone app at full volume + fan on high + earplugs + eyeshades system seems to be working, thankfully. I had originally planned another track speed session, but my quads are still a bit sore from Saturday’s long run so I opted for an easy 4.4 miler along the East river instead. It felt good to do something active but relatively low key to get myself into the first day of school spirit!

I’m a firm believer in having a healthy, hearty breakfast, particularly on big days like today. After my run, I had my latest favorite – a healthy twist on Bircher muesli. It’s delicious, but for whatever reason it hasn’t played a role in my breakfast repertoire for awhile. I rediscovered it in a post on Peanut Butter runner called “Overnight oats make a comeback,” which provided a great recipe. I like to make a slightly different version, but the fundamentals are essentially the same. As the name suggests, you soak the oats (rolled or steel cut) overnight and serve cold. You can also just leave them in the fridge for 20-30 minutes if you forget the night before, still tastes great. Super easy, tasty and so good for you! You can find my recipe here.

 

Today’s oats included plain nonfat greek yogurt, skim milk, agave, honey, pecan pieces, kiwi, blueberries, dried cranberries and one large banana. This time, I did remember to soak the oats overnight (I included everything but the fresh fruit), and it came out a bit softer than my usual 30 minutes. I’m sure this – plus my huge mug of coffee – will keep me feeling high energy for hours!

But let’s get back to school. Here’s the quick run down on my program, in case you’re interested. I’m working towards a Master’s of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics, with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition. I have only completed one of the required courses (Modern Chemistry – in high school!), so I have about 35 credits to go before I am eligible to apply for my Dietetic Internship. These requirements, which are determined by the American Dietetics Association, collectively make up the DPD, or Didactic Program of Dietetics. In order to secure a good Dietetic Internship (it’s extremely competitive – 50% match rate), I need a very high GPA as well as a substantial number of volunteer hours at a community center and a hospital. The internship is about one year long and can be done in NYC or elsewhere (UCSF, for instance, has a great internship). After that, I study for and pass an exam to become a Registered Dietitian, and finally, I take my remaining advanced coursework back at NYU. Yeah, it’ll be awhile until I graduate!

I plan to study year-round – two full semesters and two summer sessions per year – so I can begin work as a paid RD as soon as possible. This will be mentally and logistically challenging with volunteering, work and LIFE (running, blogging, relationships etc.), but I’ll do my best. NYU may not offer every course when I need to take it, but if all goes according to plan, I hope to finish my DPD plus some grad courses (Sports Nutrition and The Nutritional Aspects of Eating Disorders) by the end of Summer 2013. I hope to begin my internship in Fall 2013 and take my RD exam in Summer 2014 or soon after. Finally, I hope to finish my degree by the end of 2014, or Spring 2015 at the latest, to graduate in May 2015.

That feels so far off right now – but I guess it is only the first day of school! Time will fly, as it always does.

I am taking 13 credits this semester – four courses and a lab. Check out the schedule I made for myself – color coded and all! I am so type A, it’s ridiculous.

I had hoped to condense school into fewer days, rather than have big gaps every Wednesday and on certain Tuesdays. I had also hoped not to have “early” morning classes three days a week. Oh well! Campus is only 20 minutes away (if I walk quickly), and if I don’t feel like going back home in between classes, I always have my new second home – the massive NYU library.

I snapped that photo before someone told me that you’re not allowed to use cameras in there…apparently it’s a high security area. Whoops!

There are so many different study areas and student lounges around campus, many just for graduate students, so I’ll have plenty of options. I also can use the various branches of my gym, 24 hour fitness, or the two different NYU gyms included in my tuition. Once I get a part-time job and begin volunteering, on top of everything else, that schedule will no longer have all those nice white spaces! Things already feel crazy as I try to find work and volunteer opportunities, fill out grant applications, start my reading assignments etc. However, I’m very organized and I was a great student in the past, so hopefully I’ll be able to stay on top of everything, get straight A’s, do well in the NYC Half Marathon in March and begin coaching too. Those are some of my goals, at least!

Alright…time to sign off and get ready for class! But first, I wanted to share a few words of wisdom that E sent me this morning (via “The Daily Davar” emails he receives from Tikun), while wishing me good luck on my first day. It seemed particularly relevant to NYC, where so many people are constantly rushing around, absorbed in their own little worlds.

‘Greet every person with a smile.’ (Avos 3:17) When people smile at us, it makes us feel good – even if we are feeling miserable. You come into contact with hundreds of human beings every day – that’s hundreds of opportunities to make someone feel good by simply smiling at them.

And with that, I am sending you all virtual smiles! I hope you have a wonderful Monday.

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