As you may have noticed, I have been MIA. Sorry about that, but life has been so hectic lately. In between reading, writing, and preparing for presentations, I have not had time to actually have a life. The few moments that I have free, I actually use to run errands or sleep. It has been a busy past few weeks and I think it will also be a busy next few months.
Today, I thought I should write a little bit about my life as a a graduate student. In all reality, I am doing a double degree- both an MD and PhD, but right now I am at the end of finishing my PhD (hopefully one more year).
To start, I moved to NYC about six years ago to start this degree. I started off with medical school and completed two years of that before transitioning to starting the PhD. Our PhDs can last anywhere from 3-5 years. Although I had hoped to finish in 4 years, I am staying an extra year because I got sick and my project sort of lagged behind.
When I was in medical school, I tried to have a life, but it was very minimal. I used to spend most of my time studying and reading, and the time I had off, I would either go out with friends in the evening or spend it with my then significant other. I was super focused so, school was my first priority and I think that paid off because I ended up doing really well on the exam which is important for residency.
When I transitioned to graduate school, the first two years were pretty stressful. Although I had more time in my hands, there was always this pressure to get the techniques down and develop a project. This did not happen for me during those first two years. In fact, I ended up working on everyone else’s project. On the one hand, this allowed me to learn how to do the science and how to actually think about the science. On the other, I constantly felt like I was hitting my head against the wall. I usually need plans to be set that I can follow through and coming up with my thesis project was an ordeal. Essentially there was no plan laid out and I had to figure out what I was going to do. I think that my training may be similar to other graduate students, but it seems like most of my friends had the foundations for a project, whereas I did not. This has added so much stress to my grad school experience.
Although grad school has been stressful, there is more freedom with my schedule. Whereas in med school, I was constrained to a schedule of lectures and activities I had to take; in grad school, there is more freedom to make up your schedule and get your work done whenever you want. This is fantastic because you can show up to lab at any time and no one will care. Although this is great, I choose to keep a schedule in grad school where I get there early just because it works for me.
So essentially my days have been super busy lately. I get lo lab pretty early and grab some coffee to start off my day. I then think about the things that need to get done and get to work. I think lately I’ve been pipetting more than I’d like to, but that is what we do. Throughout the day, I also have to teach others, analyze data and make sure I am keeping myself on track.
In the beginning, as a more junior grad student, I wasn’t give so much responsibility, but having become the most senior person in my lab, much more is expected of me. Although that is awesome, I do feel like sometimes I’d just like to focus on keeping my project going and not necessarily having to answer a million questions that come from the newer people in lab.
At the end of the day, I am usually super exhausted. I grab my stuff and head home to eat some healthy dinner and, if I’m motivated, I head to the library to do some reading. If I am not, I lay in my bed and stare at my wall for a few minutes before convincing myself to work out. Being active in grad school has helped to ease my anxiety over things not working.
Unfortunately, lately my weekends have also been filled with getting to lab and finishing things off that didn’t get done during the week. I take it easy during the weekends, but the thought of work never leaves my mind. This is not healthy, but I also realize that so much still has to be accomplished before I can close this chapter and get back to med school. I think right now the drive to succeed is more important than anything.
I do take a few hours off here and there to have a life. I have been super active in graduate school with volunteer organizations and with just making new friends. I have met some of the most talented people here and I am so grateful for that. I also have been dating and trying to find someone whose life goals align with mine. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future and what I want out of life. I am not a spring chicken after all!
I do wish I had more time to explore this city but I’ve just been working so much lately. I hope all of you understand! If you do want to read a little bit about NYC, read my last blog post where I went to the Highline.
All I can say is that, doing grad school is something I am passionate about and that even with all the sacrifices I’ve had to make, I do not regret any of it. I also love doing this blog, so I will try to keep you updated.
Let me know if you are interested in learning about my path towards becoming a MD/PhD student.