© 2014 studentservices jim_keel

A Day in the Life…

jim_keel… of Jim Keel!

Upon receiving my acceptance letter from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, I made an appointment with my long time friend, mentor, teacher and boss–my local Dean of Marine Sciences.  We spoke of many things after I confessed the new opportunity that would take me away from Key West and my position in the program yet again. During our conversation, he gave me the best grad school advice I have received.

Graduate school, Dr. Rice said, is really about managing stress. There is no “over and done with;” after graduation we will go on to accept positions with a work load pushing us to the limit. We are here to practice living life with a new level of stress.  Without the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it would take only time to crumble under the pressure of our new-found responsibilities.

My day begins at 6am, seven days a week.  I wake up and stretch while waiting to watch the sun rise over Monterey. This time is spent relaxing, reflecting, and enjoying the beauty of our amazing world… also, I brush my teeth. After seven, I make my way to the kitchen, brew a little coffee and prepare something for breakfast.  Too frequently, “breakfast” means choosing an energy bar or eating granola straight from the box, but I eat.

At this point I either go to an 8:00am class, or begin to read/study/write/procrastinate or do something otherwise school related.  That’s basically my morning, until 11 or 12 when I eat lunch and/or attend some type of student information session or meeting.  Unfortunately, most of my classes this semester fall within the 2-6pm window, which is the most beautiful time of Monterey days.  I dutifully sit inside, shades drawn, fluorescent lights humming, furiously jotting down notes, during the most glorious hours of Central California Coastal life… and then I am free for the evening.

It’s difficult to say how “a day in the life” goes after classes and homework are finished.  Dinner is always involved, as well as something social.  Whether it be lingering in the classroom with classmates or meeting nearby for dinner, the topic ranges everything from world politics, travel adventures, professional experiences to class projects.  I continue to be amazed by the diverse backgrounds Monterey Institute students bring to our school and am grateful to begin new friendships with so many amazing people.

From 9-10pm the day ends mostly the same way it began with a little reflection, some relaxation, a few nice stretches… and also, I brush my teeth.

My first semester at MIIS has been a great experience. Midterm exams, policy papers, formal presentations and meetings have come and gone without any real emergency.  I’ve volunteered with old organizations and taken up new hobbies.  Life isn’t perfect, but as the Spring Semester unfolds just over the horizon I am looking forward to a schedule full of morning classes, a smaller course load, and more regular exercise sessions.  A day in the life is getting better every time.

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