Wedding Planning & Grad School

“Can I study for Applied Multivariate Statistics or DSM during the hair/makeup appointments and between bridal portrait shots?”

So, I’m trying to brainstorm some fancy advice or a little pearl of wisdom for those who are engaged and in graduate school… but I’ve learned it’s a totally different experience for everyone since absorbing lots of input, advice, and help from friends and family.

Let me put it this way: planning a big wedding is like a full time job. (Yes, people told me this too when I first became engaged and I thought they were joking! I waited until Christmas break/three months before the big day to realize they weren’t.)

As the bride (sorry ladies, this isn’t something guys really want to be involved in), you have duties to delegate (and to remember to follow up with), deadlines to determine (and stay on top of), and tasks to complete (and to make sure are completed). So 2… actually 3…  ok, maybe 4… big factors seemed to have emerged during wedding planning:

1)     I had to learn how to plan a wedding (newsflash guys: women are not born with this information downloaded in their brains and not every girl has been daydreaming of and pre-planning this day her entire life),

2)     I had to make more decisions than I am definitely used to,

3)     I had to practice patience in a way I haven’t yet been challenged to, while feeling the pressure of deadlines and checklists (thank you again Professor Lopez for your Self-Care class!), and

4)     Time management is a MUST (not that it wasn’t before though).

Still, with all the craziness, stress, happiness, running around, plethora of emotions, and above all JOY, I’ve realized how incredibly blessed I am. I have the most wonderful support system (even with 3 bridesmaids that live in 3 different states), fantastic friends, and two wonderful, unconditionally loving parents, and above all, an incredible fiancé by my side.

The engagement, emotions, premarital counseling, long talks with loved ones, registering process, picking up bridal magazines and books, setting up appointments for and choosing a venue/ DJ/ florist/ dress/ cakes/ menu/ decorations…(etc.), the excitement, invitations, bridal showers, out of town arrangements, dance lessons (don’t tell Cory I disclosed that!) 😉 … it all has been an intense roller coaster but a wonderful, beautiful, memorable, joyous one. Truly.

I just can’t wait until the big day when I can finally (hopefully!) sit back, relax, marry my best friend, and just have a blast with the people who love us.

By: Holly Oxhandler

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The Texas Legislative Internship Program

For the spring semester I have the opportunity to participate in the Legislative Internship Program. I will be living in Austin for this semester and instead of taking traditional classes I will be interning full-time in the office of a Texas House of Representative member. Even though I am in the clinical concentration, I thought that it would be good for me to gain exposure to policy making. Through my previous work experience in schools and in my first year placement, I have realized the extent that policy has on a social worker’s role and on the individual client.

This first week in the office has felt very much like the first day of high school for me. I have been bombarded with information, meeting countless people whose names I have already forgotten, and spent considerable time lost around the Capitol building. I have been accepted into the representative’s office.  The staff has done a very good job of helping me transition and learn about the Capitol world. People have described the legislative session as a summer camp, where people see friends they do not often see and act in ways that they traditionally would not. Also, since people work in such close proximity, rumors spread quickly and there are even blogs that are dedicated to the rumors of the Capitol.

I have tried my best to forget all my pre-conceived notions of the political world and start off on a clean slate. My desk is in front of the representative’s office so I am the contact person for dozens of lobbyist and advocacy groups that have entered the office the first week. In addition to hearing the perspectives of the many lobbyists in the office, I have attended a number of receptions that they have given in order to gain a background on certain issues. As a graduate student and novice cook it is hard to pass up free meals that do not come from a microwave.

After the trainings are completed, I will begin to write bills to be presented before the Legislature, and I will learn the policy issue I will be working exclusively on.  So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Legislative Aide in the Capitol and hope to maintain this enthusiasm throughout the rest of the semester, when the stress and the workdays will inevitably compound.

By: Jaime Rivera

Parking and Chick-fil-A

This might seem like a very strange post to have on a social work blog, but it is the Season of giving, so I thought I would deliver a small, belated gift and write about some of my favorite things that I associate with the GCSW and UH in general.

At the top of my list is, of course, the Chick-Fil-A in the satellite eating area that lies adjacent to the social work building.  I don’t know if I wrote the name of my favorite fast food chicken establishment correctly, but it is so delicious, does it really matter?  I would compose an ode to the scrumptious nuggets one can purchase there – which taste wonderful whether or not one chooses to immerse each separate morsel in a dipping sauce (I often neglect to do this as I am somewhat of a fried chicken purist) – but I am, after all, becoming a social worker, not a poet.  The best things always leave one wanting just a little bit more.  There have been many days where I eagerly arrive at the satellite, thinking I am about to gorge on some fried deliciousness only to find that they are closed! And not just on Sundays – although I do respect the principle of that.  No, no my future social workers.  The hours of the Chick-Fil-A are inscrutable.  The Chinese place will be open, the Taco Bell will be open, and the Starbuck’s will most assuredly be open, but the Chick is closed!  It is an absolutely desolate feeling.  The only thing that might rival that is when you arrive and it is open, but you notice that the line is four times as long as any other in the eating area – apparently, I am not the only chicken aficionado on campus.

I would hate to give the impression that my stomach rules me – although it does – so I will also tell you about my favorite cognitive exercise at UH….finding a parking spot! I am convinced that the parking lot planners were actually hired by the Graduate College of Sociology to create elaborate mazes to observe people in B.F. Skinner-esque behavioral experiments.  Until you come here, it is hard to understand what I mean.  My undergraduate education was at a tiny university, and I didn’t have a car anyway so the whole frustration of this would have been somewhat lost on me.  I am of the opinion that the university probably sells at least 25% more parking permits than there are spots.  Given the commuting nature of the school and the fact that classes are scheduled from 9am to 6pm every day, there are many times where this is not an issue.  However, if you try to find a spot within several miles of class from 9:30-1:30pm, good luck!  Some enterprising art students erected shark headed pagodas in the parking with bloody teeth one day.  I often troll around the lot and will even offer to give a complete stranger a ride to their car in exchange for their spot! Hitchhikers!!  You will find people unobtrusively parked in illegal spots everywhere or merely lurking about ready to pounce on an open space.  I often park so far out that the parking lot isn’t even paved!  It’s like coming to the edge of the universe…all you see is blank space once you get there.

And, on that happy note, I hope everyone had a wonderful winter break!

By: Matthew Estes