Someone recently asked me, “Do men find you intimidating?”
Being back on the school grind after a two-year hiatus required I polish my skimming skills. This semester sets the foundation for my degree, meaning classes range from technical skills (epidemiology, biostatistics, etc.) to broader issues (health systems & policy, program planning & evaluation, global health). I’m in school every day; which is essentially everything I stand against. (You may read about that here, where I talk about the ideal undergrad class schedule to capitalize on time spent intoxicated/curing a hangover.) Thank God the subject interests me. I don’t understand how people can go into academia when they don’t love the field.
Press Play: Hudson by Vampire Weekend
I’ve deliberated with myself (do I need a therapist?), asking if I should state the name of my school. Decided against it–possibly as a reaction to the fear of sharing too much of myself online. Though, the more realistic reason is that I’m half-assing my way through graduate school & I’d like to keep that on the DL. Also, this blog’s three followers should already know where I’m enrolled (Hi, mom).
Most of my classes are on the medical campus–admittedly, a less glamorous setting than the stone + grass of the main campus. But it’s bustling with doctors, students, & ER-bound ambulances. Located so far uptown I sometimes wonder if I’m still in Manhattan, the school services surrounding neighborhoods in need. As to my peers? Some of them are really intense & others are more my speed. This is evident during amphitheater lectures, where the people at the front shout questions & ferociously type every single word the professor utters. Laptop users in the middle or the back alternate between note-taking & Facebooking. Amidst the patter of laptop keys, others opt for handwritten notes. I fall somewhere in between, depending on the class & my level of caffeination.
I’m quickly learning public health in the United States & abroad is marked by a very shady past of unethical research & human rights violations. The best option, now, is to learn from it & honor our oath as a public health practitioners.
Moving to a new city means meeting new people. Thus, I’m occasionally caught in unwanted small-talk. During one of these chats, I mentioned I am earning a masters in public health. I forget how polarizing health issues can be, mostly because I assume everyone agrees humans have a right to healthcare. I found myself in the middle of a conversation about universal health coverage where this stranger opined the government should have no role in healthcare. Here, I abandoned my passive role. Government has & should continue to play a role in healthcare, I explained. See: Medicare &/or Veterans Health Administration System. Then, he asked if men found me intimidating.
Prancing around New York at my 5’4” stance, my initial answer is, “No.” However, because simply challenging a man’s beliefs raised this question…I’m learning the appropriate answer is, “Yes, I can be intimidating; but perhaps, not to a real man.”
Overall, life is weird here & everyone is chatty. I spend half of my week uptown & the rest of it downtown. A stark contrast, but I’m okay with it. I enjoy looking out at the Hudson from my classroom window as much as I enjoy strolling along Houston St. with my roommates or sipping a morning cappuccino with a non-coffee drinker in the East Village.