Goals: Semester 4

Jen Xu
4 min readJan 19, 2023

Alright y’all, this is somehow already my last semester with classes. I’m truly enjoying my time as a PhD student because it feels like the last time where I’ll have a lot of people to catch me. I guess I don’t know what it’s like out there, after all of this. Which is slightly horrifying, but more on that later. I’ve got some really cool projects coming up but there are some things I want to focus on:

  1. I’ll have 2 papers to work on this semester that will be heavily collaborative, at least more than before. I would really, really like to relinquish my need for control & just learn how to work better with people.
  2. I am going to TA for our Master’s in AT program and I’m really excited! I’ll have chances to lecture in some classes, but a lot of it will just be helping out with all the random stuff they need. I definitely want to take advantage of these opportunities & find out if this is what I’m meant to do.
  3. I’m going to continue to believe in myself and my grant project — I’ll find out if I got it in April, so I’ll just be waiting. And hoping. And of course filling out my IRB because I’m planning to do the project either way.
  4. Networking: I’m taking some more intense stats courses, and I definitely need to take advantage of these connections, while I continue to build on the old stuff. I also want to reach out to more people & be the curious person I know I am — but this also means updating my communication skills. I…was not raised to do small talk or properly taught how to connect to people, or at least in the way that I see my colleagues do it. I mean, growing up around Philadelphia/the northeast in general might do that to you, but growing up Asian just adds to it. Networking is definitely about what you know, but it’s also reallllly about who you know & HOW you get to know them.
  5. Streamlining my style of work: I want to balance my life more and not worry about working every second of my “9–5”. It might mean working a bit on Sunday for a few hours, but this way, I can take lunch & dog walk breaks without feeling guilty that I’m not doing something. I also know that I am a morning person at heart, but it’s hard because it seems like social aspects of life require someone to be a night owl, but work requires someone to be an early riser. I actually love waking up at 7am or so, but that means I have to go to bed much earlier. I’m also going to work on giving my dog more of a routine by leaving the house everyday in the morning to either go to class or work, giving her a lunch break walk with training so she feels like she has a purpose (yes…we are twins), then going back out to work or class. This will help me feel and be more productive.
  6. Outside-of-work life aspects: I’m planning to coach water polo once a week, go to the gym 2–4 times a week, and continue going to comedy! For the gym, I won’t be picky, but I’ll either use my small gym at work or go to the school gym, where I won’t really be able to do full Olympic lifts, but I’ll make it work & just plan to get super strong very slowly and consistently. I got back to the gym last week & went way too aggressively considering how I never really “fixed” my shoulder after subluxing it a few months ago, and now my QL and entire side body is just screaming at me. So, there will be a lot of lessons learned in patience. The biggest thing will be being consistent in my workouts at home first…not as punishment, but as knowing how my mind operates. I need to limit myself.

A lot of this spring semester for me will be waiting for various conferences to confirm that my abstract has been accepted…or denied (February for at least 1 of the 2, not sure about the other), or to hear back from the grant I submitted (April). I will also be analyzing data for 1 study and then writing manuscripts for 2 studies, so that I can complete my comprehensive project by the end of my second year. I hope, anyway! It’s definitely different from the fall, which was a lot of writing the abstracts and my grant, and completing data collection for my 2 studies. I think it’ll feel more solitary in some ways, which may be helpful, but I think I’ll feel more rested being able to just hammer away at work without as many distractions. So, here we go. This is day 2 of classes…will report at the end. Oof.



Jen Xu

Athletic trainer, PhD student, coffee lover. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.