Behind the Scenes of a Graduate Student

I snagged my theatre and psychology degree from a small town in the middle of Michigan, and now I’m living the graduate student life in the middle of Detroit.  There’s been so much change over the last month and a half – and a heck of a lot of acclimating to the culture of school, my internship, and living in an urban environment.  Here’s the thing, when I’m not stressing too much about school and responsibilities, I’m having TONS OF FUN!

I thought I’d share with you all a little about what to expect from your even higher education:

You will spend a lot of your free time reading.

Doing work outside of class is a huge part of graduate curriculum.  Since your classes are likely only a day or two per week for prolonged periods of time, it’s super important to hit the books on your time away from class so you can stay on top of things.

You don’t have to dress up for classes – but you can!

Lots of people assume that starting a graduate degree is basically like entering the real world, or some weird form of it.  I went to classes for the first couple weeks dressed in business casual outfits, which made me feel really professional and like I was making an impression on my new professors and colleagues – but, let me be the first one to tell you that it’s not expected of you!  There are 30, 40, and 50 year olds in my classes that wear sweatpants to classes.  You’re a student, not an executive, so don’t feel like you have to dress like one.

It’s really hard to make friends.

This has been my biggest struggle since moving here…  In your undergrad, clubs and fraternities and other awesome evening activities exist to help you navigate a new place and meet people that have similar interests to you.  When you get to grad school, those things don’t really exist anymore – I mean, they do, but there are definitely NOT as many of them.  Your friends will come from your study groups, church friends, or people you already know in the area.  This has been one of the worst parts of grad school for me, so far.  Anyone have any advice on how to tackle this beast?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Your new group study place may become a bar instead of a coffee shop.

I know what you’re thinking… WHAT?!  I thought the same thing when my first group project was done on laptops at a bar in the back of a vegan restaurant.  But, between you and I, the appetizers and greasy fries you can get at a bar are a much better study snack than the tiny granola bars in the checkout of a Starbucks.

You’ll need to find time for self-care.

I don’t care what your major is, self-care is so important.  Finding a good, healthy outlet to deal with your stress is what will help you get through the weeks where you’re working a part time job, clocking 24 hours at your internship, and writing a few 10 page papers that are due.  I’ve found that hopping in the tub with a bath bomb after a long day, exploring the city through the lens of my camera, and finding time to write new blog posts are great ways for me to re-center and de-stress.  What are your favorite self-care strategies?  Share them in the comments, maybe someone else will benefit from them!

Well, that’s all for now, folks.  I’ll definitely keep you updated on ways to help you navigate life in graduate school as the next two years go by.  Stay tuned!

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