I was going through some old posts – my little, growing collection of posts – and realized that some of them are just, well, kind of depressing. That’s not to say grad school itself is depressing, or that I am even depressed. And then I found one of my all-time favorites ‘You Know You’re a Grad Student When…” I wrote that post in March of my second year. Those were good times – sigh. But now, on the flip side of third year, it occurs to me there are a few things that really, really should be added. So, without further ado…you know you’re finishing your third year of graduate school when…
1. Your PI has to confirm how many years you’ve been in lab because, well, it feels like you’ve been there forever (true story).
2. The post-doc who hates pink and Hello Kitty left to Taiwain for three weeks and you papered his bench with Hello Kitty as a welcome back treat (also a true story).
3. You haven’t seen some of your classmates since first year.
4. People think you are an employee and do not believe you when you say you aren’t.
5. Your non-grad school friends have real jobs with real salaries and post pictures of exotic vacations or new cars they can now afford. Yeah.
6. You have actually contemplated going to clown college because, at least there, you are paid to weep openly.
7. When people ask you what you do, rather than say exactly what you do, you use super broad language like “Physiology,” “cancer,” or “cell” to describe your research. I mean, really, how many blank stares can you handle?
8. You are really excited by something that no one cares about.
9. Statistics is relative to the person doing them. That’s right, digest that one.
10. Free food still rules your calendar.
11. Your clothes have more holes and stains on them than they did last year.
12. I don’t even know what day it is. Isn’t everyday Monday?
13. You realize you have become the jaded grad student you thought was really weird and depressing during your interview weekend.
14. Your cat is a lab widow(er).
A couple of weeks ago I reheard Liam Neeson’s Taken speech:
I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career; skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.
When I heard this speech again, though, I couldn’t help but hear it in graduate student speech:
I don’t know what this data means, and I don’t know why this assay isn’t working. I have no money, I’m paid on a stipend. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, like dissecting third instar larvae and pipetting things; skills that have no immediate relevancy to real life. How much longer do I have? Will I ever be done? I keep working, I keep hoping, but the end is no where near. So science, do your worst, for I shall do mine!