by Hannah Grover **Blog Competition**
Stressful. Rewarding? Sometimes it can be hard to really think about the pros and cons of day to day life in graduate school, as fairly often the cons outweigh the pros. The routine can be draining. Every day you get up, put in eight to twelve hours of work (sometimes more…), go home, sleep, and repeat. You eat lunch at your desk so that you can keep working, forgetting when the last time you spoke to another person was. It can be isolating. Trying to plan down to the hour when you have time for homework or heading to DHMC to incubate some eggs, it’s a weird example, but I work with chick embryos and brain development. When you have to work three weekends out of four or the entire “Spring Break” to stay on top of research and classes, to meet deadlines. When do you even have time to read that research article your advisor sent you? It’s never ending, until, you get to that fourth weekend. Finally, there’s no work (or a lot less work). There’s just relaxing, seeing friends, and maybe catching up on a little Netflix. You can read that article now! You can also look back and realize, I actually got so much done. That feeling of accomplishment is what keeps me going and gives me motivation. Crossing long-staying items off a to-do list and feeling like you overcame some hurdle or finally got a protocol to work after spending months getting nowhere because for whatever reason nothing ever wants to work. These are the things that make up for all of the hours put into that the graduate student cycle. It’s the knowledge that you didn’t give up at the toughest times, you buckled down and worked through it. These are the things that help me sleep at night when I know that in the morning I have to be to lab at 6AM on a Saturday. I just repeat the mantra, “It’ll probably be worth it in the end”. The best moments for me, are seeing my work pay off in the form of abstract acceptances to conferences. That’s the moment that you knew those late nights and early mornings really meant something (like a trip to Ireland in July!). Weighing the day to day pros and cons is tough, but in the big picture you know that you are making a contribution and working towards something great. That is the feeling that keeps me going in graduate school. Then you realize there’s still so much more to do…. and you pour another cup of coffee (the other 80% of what keeps me going) and get back to work.