"The First Quarter" with Lindsay Weinberg

Lindsey Weinberg shares what it was like to go from being a waitress in New York City to a first-year PhD student in the History of Consciousness Department.

January 16, 2014

Lindsay credits the support of her fellow graduate students in helpnig her transition to UCSC.

My first year as a graduate student in the History of Consciousness Department can best be described as a series of remarkable transitions. The process of relocating from New York to California and acclimating myself to this strange and beautiful environment has been incredibly rewarding. While I miss my friends and family in New York dearly, each day Santa Cruz feels more and more like home.

Many people ask me what I feel are the greatest differences between New York and California, how I imagined California before I arrived, and how I have tried to acclimate myself. While I have yet to travel much of California, I must say that my experiences in Santa Cruz and San Francisco have led me to conclude that the dog-eat-dog mentality of New York City doesn’t seem as prevalent here. Professional culture seems to take on new and inventive forms that are a little disorienting for someone who comes from the suit-and-tie, hypercompetitive culture of NYC. While I must admit that my imagining of California was partially informed by the stereotypes on television and a few Wikipedia entries, I certainly couldn’t have imagined the culture shock I would eventually experience.

In terms of how I have acclimated myself, I have found that bike rides to the beach and visiting a new coffee shop every day have helped me to develop a sense of community and familiarity with the area. My acclimation to California is also indebted to my wonderful cohort and fellow graduate students who have been nothing but open, kind, and courteous in helping me adjust to my new surroundings. The act of relocating and leaving behind everyone that I know couldn’t have come at a better time, for the change in environment has also facilitated my desire to challenge myself academically and interrogate some of the long-held positions and assumptions that I’ve formed, living and working in the same town for five years.

Perhaps the biggest transition I have experienced, second only to relocating 3,000 miles, has been the transition from working in the service industry to pursuing a career in academia. Ever since I was fourteen I have worked as a waitress, and I had been bartending at the same spot in New York for five years prior to relocating. While I greatly enjoyed bartending in that I socialized with people from all walks of life and enjoyed live music, good food, and interesting company while I worked, it definitely took a toll on me physically in that the hours were late and grueling and the environment could turn toxic at times. There is something freeing about being able to focus strictly on my academic work, although it comes with its own forms of exploitation, and I find that while I miss bartending and I miss the people with whom I worked and socialized with, it is also inspiring to be in the graduate school environment where everyone has a common goal. While it is frightening to abandon the support network and the occupation that has helped me to get to where I am today, I am so glad that I made the decision to come to UCSC, for the challenges of relocating have only facilitated my academic and personal development.

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