I'm at a big research university in the Great Snowy North (GSN), and I'm trying to get a PhD in biochem. We'll see how that works out!
Here are some things I've learned in the last year...
- Sleep is vitally important. I didn't sleep much as an undergrad, and as a result, I was always exhausted, stressed, and sick. Life seems much more manageable after 7 hours of sleep.
- Lab rotations are great. We have to do three of them in my program. I learned so much from each two month stint in a new lab. Plus, I took a risk, rotated in a brand new lab, and realized it was the perfect fit. It's safe to say I wouldn't be in this lab if there hadn't been a rotation.
- I love living by myself. I get necessary quiet time and can recharge after spending all day with lab mates and class mates. Plus, there's no one to yell at me when I'm messy!
- It's important to meet people outside my program. I have great friends in my program, but I see them all the time so small annoyances have the opportunity to fester and become a big deal that causes way too much drama. I wish I'd made a more diverse set of friends in my first months here!
- I love eating real food. Don't get me wrong, Kraft Mac and Cheese is a gift from the gods, but this grad student will not be living off of ramen noodles. I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture), so I get fresh, local vegetables on a weekly basis. So much better!
I've learned some things, but there's still so much to learn! I need to work on reading more research papers and read them critically, figure out how to plan my research better so I use time efficiently (which helps with the sleeping and eating well goals), find motivation when nothing works as expected, learn to balance classes with research and TA-ing, maybe figure out an exercise plan, and keep demanding some sort of balanced life.
There's so much to do!