8 Struggles Only A Grad and PhD Students Will Understand
Surviving grad school or PhD is no small task. The wounds of soldiers who have fought this battle are very evident in dark circles and grey hair. If you are not yet on the battlefield, here is what you need to know, 8 of many struggles only grad students can relate to:
1. The Pain
The moment you are mid-way through the first semester, you realize grad school is nothing like undergrad. You realize you are an adult now. The courses you take in grad school would have a considerable effect on your career. You take calculated moves on how many credits you need to finish every semester. Take up courses with a lot of thought. But then give up on courses midway, because it becomes too much to handle.
Many of you would be living away from your family for the first time in life. You now understand that the independence comes with a lot of responsibilities. Studying, working, shopping, cooking, cleaning… the list of responsibilities is never-ending. In this cobweb, you sit back at times and feel humbled about how far you have come and how much you have changed.
2. The Extinction of Textbook
When was the last time you read from a textbook? You realize now that textbooks are extinct and stocked in the university library for reference. All you need now is a laptop and an internet connection, vola! you find the textbook on the first page of google search. Because buying a textbook would burn a big hole in your pocket.
3. The Hunger Game
When did I eat the last time? Was it today morning? or was it yesterday morning? You have most probably lost track of when you eat. A choice is not an option, you accept whatever is available without caring much about the taste. The dire hunger has motivated you to learn some culinary skills. Thus you make good on whatever is in your fridge and cook something out of it. When you have no time to cook, you savor the German bread and pretzel.
4. The Missing Connection
It started with calling back home twice a day. As the time goes on the gap between two phone calls keep extending. You wish to call back home every day, but you are so worked up with studies and job that you always forget and regret it later. It is no different with friends, the extensive messages in WhatsApp and facebook chat boxes have now turned into a deserted place.
5. I AM BROKE
Well, that’s the hue and cry of many of us. Most of us are juggling between work and studies to meet our expenses. After paying for rent, insurance, broadcast tax, groceries, phone bills you have barely anything left over. Whatever is left is saved up for the next ski trip or a trip to Paris or Amsterdam or Barcelona. So when your friends invite you to a movie, you are quite up front and have no guilt in saying ‘I am broke’.
6. The Social Paradox
Being in a grad school means, you are still a student. While your friends have a stable job. Some have settled down and already started a family while you are sitting clueless about your next assignment. Your friend is probably changing diapers while you are stuck with the bug in the code that you can’t fix. The societal pressure that you are getting old and still have no concrete outline for your future starts taking a toll on you.
But deep down, you know that you did the right thing taking up graduate studies. You would be a lot less enlightened if you had decided otherwise. You just know for a fact that undergrad was just a crash course.
SEE ALSO: 7 Myths about Studying in Germany
7. The Sleep Deprival
Early to bed early to rise, doesn’t apply to us anymore. You sleep when you sleep, you don’t when you don’t. Eight-hour sleep seems to be a myth now. I am writing this blog at 3:28AM. I need to be in the office by 9:00AM. Finding time for leisure activities outside of work and studies is challenging and you find time for it by compromising on sleep. The weekday’s sleep is fulfilled by extended sleep on the weekends.
8. You almost Quit – A Dozen Times
The thought of why did I do this occurs to you more often than not. Failing a few exams made you think of quitting every few months in the beginning. But then you think, what worse could happen? Failing is just a small hiccup now and not a major setback. The experience itself is exhilarating. Giving up is not more an option.
If you are a grad student, how many of these things can you relate to? If you are thinking of taking up grad studies what do you make of this list? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to share it with people who do not know what being a grad student means.
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