Caring for You: A Graduate School Retreat
Posted on February 28, 2018
Thick socks, hiking boots, bug spray, laptop, my water bottle completes my packing for the monthly trip to Vermont. I am in my second trimester, working towards my Masters in Business Administration with a focus in collaborative leadership. Over the past three weeks, I have been working from home on a pitch for my marketing class, and I am excited about the work I have done. I drive towards campus; the windows are cracked, letting the damp smells of spring fill my lungs as I review the talking points of tomorrow’s presentation in my head.
I make the trip up the night before classes and stay in student housing, located a five-minute drive from campus. Marlboro North is located on Route 9 in Marlboro, Vermont, offering affordable housing for the residency weekends. The price is only a bonus; however, what I look forward to is a relaxing evening with hot tea and engaging conversation in the common room. Other students filter in throughout the evening, and everyone is greeted with smiles and a warm embrace. This is not the cold, business-like experience I expected when I applied to graduate school.
I get up early the next morning and head down to the kitchen where coffee, fruit, and yogurt are waiting for me. It makes me smile because, at home, I am running around in the mornings, wrangling my boys to find their socks, gather their homework and their lunches. On residency weekends, I am lucky to find moments of relaxation, a break from my regular routine. I pack my bag for the day, making sure not to forget my socks and hiking boots. After class, a group of us will be heading out to the 100 acres of walking trails behind the campus.
My presentation was terrific; not only did my classmate like my ideas, but we discussed how to make my pitch stronger. I will be making the same presentation to the marketing department at my organization later on this month, and I want it to be as engaging as possible. The fact I may use real-world examples or problems from my organization makes the work I am doing at Marlboro more authentic. My classmates are invested in my success and I in theirs; discussions in the classroom are always lively and provoking.
The delicious lunch at the campus dining hall reminds me a bit of my undergraduate experience. Although instead of endless pizza, we have locally-sourced proteins, vegan and vegetarian options. With happy bellies and minds full from today's classes, we make our way towards the woods behind campus. Not everyone joins us today: some head to the library, to the campus coffee shop, and others head back home. The Marlboro community makes space for people to try new ventures if they feel inspired, but also supports those who need quiet or family time.
The hike was exactly what I needed to clear my head. We walked in silence, just absorbing the re-birth of spring, and I appreciate the abundance of time and friends I share it with. As my boots sink slightly into the soft ground, I am reminded of how little time I reserve in my daily life to just be me. I wear so many titles in my everyday life, all of which I wear with pride: mother, partner, daughter, and executive director. While I am at Marlboro, I get to wear a few others with pride: student, coach, and friend.
The rest of the residency weekend is filled with good friends, enlightening discussion, and moments of personal and professional discovery. With a wide variety of elective activities—such as canoeing, an evening sauna, game night, or peer-driven learning sessions—I feel the value of my experience in and out of the classroom. On Sunday, after classes conclude, I say goodbye to my classmates; I feel refreshed and ready to return to my daily life.
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