Grad students unite! Calling all Ph.D. students, but especially those in the humanities, literature, languages, or history departments. How do you stay healthy (mentally and physically), keep sane, be positive, get work finished in a timely manner, stay happy?
posted by fionab to education (35 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I'm Ph.D. student in Literature/Film at Duke. This is the end of my second year, and well, life has been better. I feel like my social skills are dying, my stress levels are too high, my bank account too low, and my future uncertain. There are parts of me that absolutely love what I do: it is definitely a moral/ethical/doing-it-for-the-love career and life experience. But there are days where I don't talk to anyone in person, and my long-distance relationship seems to be falling apart. I came in as one of the more social people in my department, and perhaps that's why I'm feeling the pain more than others. I love books and films, and I like both the practice and idea of teaching, adore writing, and really can sink my teeth into research that matters. BUT, I miss having sustained personal contact, deadlines on a more regular basis than twice yearly, and don't really love the area that I live in. To make it a little worse, the job market these days doesn't exactly give me tons of hope for the future. I'm definitely not in this solely for a job after the dissertation, but I'd be joking if I didn't consider it as part of the overall journey and part of the plan for my future. I took time off between my undergrad degree and starting here, and worked, travelled, and really thought about what I wanted to do.
I know there must be lots of science Ph.D. students here, but somehow I feel like your situation is slightly different: you work with other people in a lab, have frequent deadlines, and options outside of academia when you're finished. There is also a much stronger mentor/boss relationship. MA students are here for a year, maybe two, and it's a much different career trajectory. There are any number of reasons why this was a bad school year for me. But after talking with some of my fellow students, this seems like a general state-of-mind, no matter the personal situation that adds a slightly different colour. It's a well-known program, filled with top-notch professors, I have an advisor that seems to understand me and my project, and I'm not totally destitute. And yet, it seems like I'm missing something here.
If you were a grad student, or are a grad student, what are your words of wisdom? What are your tips for getting through this? How do you manage your time, keep sane, stay healthy, see people? What do you wish someone had told you before all of this started?
I wish it were as simple as 1) Get accepted 2) Work hard 3) ???? 4) Profit!! But alas, no such luck yet. Please help me stay in school :-)