The Challenges of Grad School No One Talks About

Today is going to be a bit of a sad post. Not because I want it to be, but because I am going to cover some topics that students face that aren’t really fun. I want to talk about a few challenges of grad school that we all experience that are just a bit hard to del with. Yes, the work load is a lot. Your adviser can be super mean. But these are all things that you expect to deal with. Today, I want to talk about a few things that people just don’t want to talk about that you’ll deal with in grad school, as well as undergrad.

Challenges of grad school : getting older

You will get older

I wrote a post about how the freshman each year seem younger and younger. It’s currently summer B semester which means the freshman are here. They do look like they are 12, even though most of them are 18-19. It really makes you feel old, especially in grad school. Undergrad was 4 to 5 years of your life. You went through it and made it to grad school. You are probably much older than the undergrads which kind of makes things a bit sad. I, unintentionally, remind myself that I am 10 years older than the incoming freshman. By unintentionally, I mean that it literally just pops in my head when seeing someone with a “UF 26” shirt walk by. This is just one of the challenges of grad school that you will face, almost immediately.

Challenges of grad school

Your friends will come and go

One of the biggest challenges of grad school, and well life, is seeing friends come and go. In grad school, you are going to meet quite a few people and make friends with a few as well. Usually, you’ll have a smaller group of friends, but they are or will turn out to be very close. Seeing them graduate and moving on with their lives is a very difficult thing that you will experience. I have had many friends come and go throughout my time in grad school. It’s pretty hard to get used to this. You always think they will be there until they aren’t.

Challenges of grad school

Time will pass quickly and slowly at the same time

Let me explain this one. One strange phenomena that occurs in grad school, and life, is time tends to speed up. The years get really short but the days seem to get much longer. When in grad school, weeks will pass by in the blink of an eye and it will seem like you got nothing done. This can be good because you will think to yourself “nice, I am closer to graduation”. You’re not lol Graduation is always so far off and seems to just get pushed back even further each year. Because of this, grad school will seem extremely long even though it goes by quickly. It’s a weird thing that happens and definitely is a challenge in grad school.

Challenges of grad school

You won’t feel accomplished after big milestones

When you were young, and very big milestones came up, you probably felt very proud and accomplished when finishing. Things like graduating, passing a class, actually waking up after your 21st birthday, stuff like that. There was this sense of completion. That hardly exists in grad school. There are a few huge milestones that will leave you feeling empty. These include your qualifying exam and even your defense. This isn’t the case for everyone though. Many people will have that feeling of completion, but many of us won’t.

You’ll think “what’s next?” You have spent so much time on a project to finish and just not know what to do in life. This is completely normal and many people have this feeling. It doesn’t make it any easier knowing that you’re not alone though. I find this to be a challenge of grad school because it really makes you wonder if all of this is worth it. It plays with your emotions.

People will never be as excited about something as you are

Everything that you do in grad school is for yourself. It is quite the personal experience, not going to lie. If something “ground breaking” happens such as you find out some weird scientific principle not found or you successfully get a paper published, you’ll most likely be the only one that is excited. People won’t show your level of excitements because they aren’t going through the process of obtaining a graduate degree like you. Even your friends won’t be as excited, even if they are a graduate student. This can be difficult because you want to celebrate and you also want someone there to celebrate with. People will celebrate but won’t understand really why.

Challenges of grad school

You will spend a ton of time alone

I do not mean that you will physically be alone. If you are in a lab, there’s probably other people sharing that lab with you. You may also have lab mates that you see each day. No, the loneliness I talk about is being alone in your thoughts. Grad school, as I mentioned early, is a personal experience. he problems you have are your own. This is especially true when you get to the PhD level. You will have many problems that no one has the answers to and you are all alone trying to figure it out. When in undergrad or a master’s, you have classes. Everyone has the same problems. When in a PhD or research position, the problems you face don’t have solutions in the back of the book.

You will also be alone in your general thoughts. The hardships you face will usually only be faced by other grad students. It is hard to talk to people that didn’t go to grad school about your problems. You really just have to talk with other grad students. This can be quite a challenge. I know that the problems that I face, I only have 1 or 2 people to talk to. Everyone else has never experienced those problems before. If this is the case, I highly suggest seeing a therapist. If you are alone or feel alone, please reach out to a therapist. It was the best thing I ever did.

Challenges of grad school : feeling alone

You will face mental health problems

We all struggle with something. That is for sure. On of the biggest challenges of grad school is your mental health and how it will be pushed to the limits. You will experience so many emotions, and might not be able to handle that. I truly wish that colleges did more to help students cope. Yes, it is hard, but sometimes there are things that the college can do to help individuals. Offering free therapy is one. Paying a living salary is another. Grad school should be a time where you learn but not one where you are so stressed that you literally lose years off your life. It’s tough when some professors think “well I had it tough and therefore my student should have it tough too” That mentality is toxic and terrible for mental health. Be better.

Final Thoughts

I have to apologize to you all about this post. It is pretty sad and depressing but it is something that people need to know about. Next post will be happier, I promise. If you are reading this and thinking about grad school, please do not be discouraged. One of the best things in my life was going to grad school and it opened up so many doors for me. My life is not more fulfilling and there is quite a ton of purpose. I am eternally grateful of my decision.

To end this very depressing post, I’ll share a grad school meme.

grad school meme

Am I Working Hard Enough in Grad School?

One of the worst feelings is coming home at the end of the day and feeling as if you didn’t do enough that day. Grad school is notorious for making you feel like you haven’t done enough work for the day. Well, I am here today to tell you that you have done enough work and I want to let you in on a few secrets that I learned that will help you feel more productive. I want you to also know that you are not alone in these feelings. I guarantee that every grad student feels like they could have done more. Some grad students don’t stop working and burn out. It is part of the process of getting a grad degree, but I can hopefully help make it easier. So, if you are asking the question “am I working hard enough in grad school?” then this is the post for you.

Am I Working Hard Enough in Grad School

Why we think we aren’t working hard enough in the first place.

So, grad school is a hard thing to accomplish because the work load can be very little, or extremely overwhelming all at once. You often have weeks where you have like 3 to 4 hours, tops, of work. The following week can be 70 hours of non-stop chaos. It’s just how things are and I don’t make the rules. One of the reason people ask themselves if they work hard enough in grad school is because there can be a ton of time where you aren’t doing work. You might be bored for quite some time.

Another reason that people may be thinking they don’t work hard enough is because they are comparing themselves to the highlights of other students. One of the most toxic things you can do in grad school is compare yourself to other students in your department or other departments. Sure, there may be someone that has 3 first-authored publications, but that does not mean you aren’t working just as hard as they are. I know many individuals that compare themselves to me. Yes, I work fairly hard but I also make sure I make time to have a life. These individuals say that I am always working and it makes them upset because they aren’t working as hard. I am here to tell you that you work just as hard, if not harder. You may see only the highlights that the person has. Also, they might be just looking busy to keep themselves preoccupied. It happens.

More factors

These individuals are definitely asking the same question as you, “Am I working hard enough in grad school?”. I know for a fact that every student asks this question regardless of how much they get done. A main factor is the workload that their adviser places on them as well. There are students that get overwhelmed with work, like way too much work, and can’t keep up. Of course they are going to think that they aren’t working hard enough, because they aren’t able to keep up. Then, there are people who don’t have as much work and see someone else working hard. They’ll probably ask themself if they are working hard enough. The best way to really determine if you are doing enough is to just ask your adviser. I promise you that if they haven’t called you out for being a slacker, then you are doing enough work.

Really, Am I working hard enough in grad school

How to get rid of the terrible feeling?

So, after you asked yourself “am I working hard enough in grad school?” you may have this feeling like you need to work harder? Is this true? It is for me because I always feel like I could be doing more. I could be writing more. Heck, I could be spending more time in the lab. Regardless of what you do, you’ll probably feel like you need to constantly be working. There is a bit of anxiety that might show up as well. So Ben, how do I get rid of this feeling? Well, I have a couple of ways that might work. I hope one or more work better with you and you try it out. There are probably plenty more methods to try, but I want to share the ones that have really helped me.

Walk it out

Technically, just get a bit active. Sometimes I feel this anxiety because I need to get all of this work done and theres not enough time to get it done. This is your brain lying to you. In fact, the reason you are getting so anxious is because you created a todo list that is unacheiveable bt are convinced that you can achieve it. In these cases, get active. Go on a walk, step away from work, and go do some form of cardio. I know that you may think this is dumb because you can get more done if you just keep working. That can be true but you probably won’t. Your head is not in the right place. Going for a walk may clear up you mind and actually make things a bit easier. You may realize how much work you have done and you may even realize that you are ahead of schedule. I find that when I feel like I am not doing enough work, a quick cardio session is what gets me motivate to do work. It also makes me feel more refreshed. So, next time you feel like you aren’t doing enough work, take a break. Go on a walk and listen to some music. It may just be the best thing for you.

working a bit more in grad school

Do a tiny bit of extra work

I always ask myself at the end of the day if I am working hard enough in grad school. It’s never during the middle of the day or in the morning. No, it’s always at the end of the day. If you are really feeling bad, designate an hour to just doing something that will be helpful towards your research. If you need to write a paragraph, write a paragraph. Some times, if I really feel like I didn’t work hard enough that day, I’ll find a research paper and read it before going to bed. Just a small task can really help you feel so much better. You do not have to commit like 3 hours after coming home to work. No, just designate an hour doing something constructive. Maybe just write down what to do for the next day or edit some of your manuscript that you’ve been putting off for a year lol. Anything is better than nothing and It will help significantly. I promise you that.

Create a To-do list each night and try and stick to it

This may take a bit of time to fully master. You may be asking “why do I need to master this?” Well, you don’t want to put so much on there that it overwhelms you and you don’t want to put too little that you get behind on work. You want enough on the list where it is doable, yet not overwhelming. I aim for 2 large things and 2 smaller tasks. Big tasks can be something like writing a page or two of my dissertation or get an experiment done. Small tasks can be something like email my adviser and ask a question or even something as little as drink coffee. The small tasks are going to make you really feel like you are getting a ton of work done. So, if you can, increase small attainable tasks and you’ll feel like your day is extremely productive.

seek help in grad school

If it get’s to be too much, seek professional help

Feeling like you aren’t doing enough is normal, but overwhelming yourself to the point of burnout is not. Grad school will push you to these limits and it is so important that you don’t let it get to that point. If you are working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and feel the need to work more, then you may need to see a therapist. I have a ton of posts about seeing a therapist, and you can read about them here. Therapist will help to find what the cause of this feeling is. Maybe it’s something deeper than just feeling like you are behind. Who knows. If you are working a ton, on the brink of burnout, and feeling hopeless, therapy is a must. Many colleges offer some form of service to help students. My school offered TalkSpace. I highly suggest just seeing a therapist regardless of your feelings. They will help give you the tools to tackle any and all of these feelings that you have. Therapy will help you become a better student by providing you the mental health required to be productive. I think this was the best way to combat that feeling of being behind in my work. It’s 100% worth it.

Final Thought

When you ask yourself, “am I working hard enough in grad school?” I want you to go to a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say “Yes I Am!!!” You are doing a fantastic job and are good enough to get that degree. You have been working so hard for so long. Yes, there are people that may work harder, but that’s them. There will always be people that work harder. It doesn’t mean that they are better than you. Compare yourself to yourself and no one else. Always aim to be the best version of yourself and see yourself grow. You are amazing.

So, we have come to the end of another amazing blog post lol. Time to add a grad school meme to the post because you deserved it! I hope you enjoyed this post and I will see you in the next one. Peace.

Rachel Carey

Writing My Thesis and Life Updates

Hello everyone. I know, I haven’t posted in like 2 week and I am extremely sorry for that. Three months from now, I’ll have to submit my first draft of my thesis, so I have been busy writing it already. many people take much longer and I have known people to start and finish theirs in a month. For me, procrastination is a huge no-no. It causes way too much stress and anxiety. Therefore, I am starting early so I don’t have to stress as much.

I really hate how we have to write our thesis so early, though. I wish they would give us until the middle of the semester, but I do understand why they want it so soon. I also have to start preparing for my defense. A friend of mine just did his two days ago which has me thinking a lot about it. It is giving me a bit of anxiety boost to continue lol.

Manuscript Writing

Aside from my thesis, I am also preparing a manuscript for publication. This will be one of potentially three or four manuscripts that I will submit in the next few months. My adviser wants to get this published in a really good scientific journal, which means it has to be close to perfect. To put it into some perspective, I have been making graphs for the past three days. But, man, these graphs look good lol. Hopefully we can get it published in a high impact journal. That would be really awesome.

What’s Next

That’s it for academic stuff. Let’s talk about what’s next in my life. So, I had a really good interview with a company, that, I think, will be where I work after grad school. It is a super reputable consulting firm that’s world-wide. I have moved to the next step in the hiring process, so we will see what happens. In other words, grad school is paying off.

Vacation

I am getting ready for my annual trip to the Keys! Seven days of fishing, relaxation, family, and most importantly, KEY LIME PIE!!!! I am super excited for this trip and have been preparing since February. My dad is getting pretty excited too. He’s been packing gear, getting chum, looking for bait, and buying tackle. I will definitely need this time off after what I’ve been through these few weeks.

Walking Challenge

On top of all of that, I am excited to announce that I finished the Appalachian Trail on my virtual walking app. I think it was 1968 miles or something like that. It took me 355 days, but I am done. That’s kind of a cool thing to accomplish. I was bored immediately after, so I signed up for the Great Wall of China challenge. This challenge is over 2100 miles. I’ll stay busy for sure with it lol.

Final Thoughts

I promise that i have not given up on blogging. I know that I was posting like 3 times a week, but life is getting a bit in the way. I will try to at least get one or two posts out a week from here on out. If you guys are looking for a specific blog post, please let me know in the comments. I am looking for some topics that people actually want to read. Let me know. Anyway, I hope you guys and gals are having a great summer so far. I am busy but it is worth it. I will see you all in the next one, hopefully coming soon. Peace!

Nervous About Starting Grad School

Grad school is an amazing experience. That’s all I really want you to know in this post. I have had a wonderful time throughout my 5 and a half years as a graduate student, but starting off was nerve wracking. Being nervous about starting grad school is completely normal. Here is a secret that no one really wants you to know. Everyone is nervous at first when starting grad school. I don’t know a single person that wasn’t.

See, humans are a funny bunch of individuals. We tend to hyper focus on the negative “what ifs” that come with everything. This usually leads us to get nervous in the first place because we think “What if I fail? What if I hate my classes? What if, what if, what if!!!!” We get in this terrible cycle of what ifs and that really makes the beginning of grad school a scary experience. I am her today to tell you that being nervous about starting grad school is completely normal and you will get over that almost immediately. I am also going to share with you today some ways to handle the nerves and how to make the most of grad school at the beginning.

nervous about starting grad school

Reasons why you are nervous

1) Feeling nervous starting grad school because of uncertainty

There is a ton of uncertainty in grad school. More than undergrad, that’s for sure. I believe that uncertainty is one of the major factors that leads to people being nervous. They truly don’t know what will come next. I’ve been in this exact situation. Starting grad school was filled with nerves because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I would fail or thrive. The uncertainty really caused me to worry a ton until I actually started and found out that everything was just fine.

One way that you can conquer this aspect of starting grad school is just exposing yourself to grad school. Let me explain. See, when you don’t know what is going to happen, you tend to start thinking of all the bad things that can occur instead of the good things. One way of overcoming this is exposure therapy. There will be many things that might make you nervous and the best way to overcome that feeling is to just do it. It takes a bit of courage, but it’s well worth it.

Say, you are nervous about going into the gym for the first time at school. If you gain a bit of courage and just go there, you will show your brain that it’s not as scary as you made it seem. This will make it easier to go again, because you know you are not in any danger. Same with classes. You will be nervous and won’t want to go. Once you go to your first class, I guarantee you will feel way relieved afterwards.

nervous in grad school and making friends

2) Feeling nervous about making friends

Making friends is a very exciting and nerve wracking experience. Every year, I have to go out and make new friends because all of my current friends are leaving. That is a struggle about being in a PhD program. Anyway, I find that it get’s a bit harder the higher you get up in your education. Grad school is as high as you will get which means that making friends might be a bit of a struggle. It is no the end of the world, though. I actually have a few posts about friendships in grad school. Go check them out here and definitely check out this one about how to make friends in grad school. All of these posts are quite helpful.

Friendships will take a bit of time in grad school. It will make you a bit nervous when you are working a while and haven’t made many or any friends. Give it time. I promise that it will happen but might take some time. For me, I had some friends from undergrad that were still in school, so that made it easier. When they left, I had to work to make friends. It took a few months and a few classes, but I managed to gain a ton of really good friends. Just because you don’t have many friends at first, doesn’t mean you won’t make a ton.

3) Nervous about the amount of work

nervous about work in grad school

This is a justifiable reason to be nervous. The workload in grad school can be a bit overwhelming. Some days you will work 3 hours (2 of those probably sending emails or reading) and other days, you may be in the lab for 10 hours and then writing 3 papers afterwards. This is what grad school is all about lol. Though I say it is justifiable, it does not mean that you have to be nervous about it. Yes, there will be a ton of work, but you will most likely be able to handle it. Heck, you got through undergrad just fine. Actually, you did so well in undergrad that you were accepted into a grad program. You can do the work.

A way to get over being nervous for doin g the work, or being nervous about the amount of work that will come, is to plan things out and be proactive. Yes, start early. Many people complain about the amount of work they have to do because they aren’t ready for it. They may put it off until the last minute, causing more and more to pile up before it becomes overwhelming. This is totally on them and can be completely avoided if you prepare. This means starting assignments early, staying on top of deadlines, and, unfortunately, giving up all you can drink Wednesdays to get work done. I promise you that if you prepare, you will thrive.

nervous about moving somewhere for grad school

4) Felling nervous about starting grad school in another state or country

This topic can be a whole post by itself. Many people move away to another city/state/country to go to grad school. This is a huge deal for most people and can make you pretty nervous. Once again, remember that this is normal. Being nervous about moving anywhere is normal. At first you may be nervous about just being alone in an area you aren’t familiar with. Don’t fret. Think of it as an adventure and you are just starting out. All adventure start off scary but will, in time, get quite comfortable.

If you are starting grad school in a totally new area, know that it’s ok to be nervous about it. The best thing that you can do is just go out and explore. Familiarize yourself with everything as soon as possible. This will help you settle right in. You will have to give it a few months to truly get acclimated, but it will happen. During this time, call people that are close to you. Talk with them on a daily basis, which will help you get some comfort in your life during this transition. Also know, grad school goes by quickly. If you don’t like where you are, you’ll be out of there in no time. That though usually calms the nerves.

Final Thoughts

In the end, being nervous about starting grad school is actually a normal thing. I would be more concerned if you weren’t nervous to be honest. You are starting something completely new and of course there will be some nervousness that comes from it. Just know that these feelings are fine, normal, and will go away soon. You will start off a nervous wreck, but will soon find yourself in a very comfortable position. Grad school, as I said before, is a wonderful and exciting experience. It will have it’s ups and downs, but it is certainly nothing to be nervous about. For those that are starting in the fall or spring, welcome. You are definitely welcomed here.

Sorry about the lack of posts guys! I have been travelling a ton and that has really reduced the amount of screen time that I have. I promise that I will post more often from here on out and I hope you are all having a wonderful summer so far. It is getting hot out there, so make sure to drinking plenty of water lol. As always, I hope you are all having a wonderful day. If you haven’t already, go check out my post about getting ahead in college (link here). I will see you all in the next one. Peace.

Does Grad School Get Any Easier?

I am currently sitting at an airport, writing this post. I am in Arkansas for a wedding and my girlfriend and I are on our way back to FLorida. Our flight was delayed by 4 hours so far due to weather, so I figured it was a great time to write a post. Todays topic is “does grad school get easier?” I have been asked this more times than I’ve wanted to lol. It is an important question and I feel like answering it may need a whole blog post.

Grad students know how hard grad school can be at some times. There are times during the year where you just lose all hope and want to throw in the towel. There are also many days/weeks where you are having the time of your life and things are easy. Overall, grad school is a roller coaster of the good and bad, the hard and the easy, and the long nights of work and long nights of sleep. But does it get easier? The short answer is no. Grad school does not get easier. The long answer is what I will discuss with you today.

Does grad school get easier?

Grad School is hard

Yes, grad school, no matter what degree it is, will be hard. I am in engineering which is notorious for flunking more people than any other major. In grad school, all of the classes you take are hard, not only because of the topics, but also because you’re learning something new. Grad school is about learning how to be a master in a very particular subject. A master’s shows that you have mastered the area you are studying and a PhD is an apprenticeship that teaches you how to do research in those particular subjects. You are learning a ton of new info and very hard info and concepts during this time. It will be hard throughout the process. The secret of grad school is, the material stays the same difficulty but you get better at it.

You Get Better

Just like all new things in life, you are probably not going to be good at it. In fact, you are probably going to suck when you first start grad school. That awesome, that’s amazing, and you should suck at it. Why is this? because it means that you are open to learn and become an expert in your field. It also means that you don’t know everything. If you knew everything there was then getting a graduate degree would be a waste of time. In fact, if you knew everything then you should be making million son game shows. No, you don’t know everything and you will fail a ton. But that is totally fine and encouraged.

I believe this is the reason that grad school is so hard. You have spent your whole life passing exams that doing something different and out of your comfort zone really throws you off. You get into concepts that are very different than those taught in undergrad and that might make you uncomfortable. See, in undergrad, there’s a formula you live by. It’s a set way of passing exams and getting to the next class. That’s it. That’s undergrad. Grad school is about discovering the unknown and learning things that are different. At first, you may really struggle. I know I sure did. But as you go through the motions, you learn and grow. Next thing you know, you’re a master of grad school and know how to do the hard things very well.

I promise you, you can do it.

I know, you are probably struggling at this moment and that is why you are reading this. And I get it, grad school is hard. You can do it though. See, the beginning is always the hardest, as I said above. You are brand new and might not think you can do it. But graduate school is quite like all of those really uplifting movies like Mulan where the protagonist (you) struggles but then succeeds. All you need to do is put in the work and believe. Everyone, no matter how smart or hard working, is going to have a hard time in graduate school.

No matter what, it will be hard. The ones that keep going, though it’s hard, will find that they start to understand the hard concepts better. They tend to find that all of their experiments start to really work. And they start to become, though slowly, a world class researcher. It just takes some time. Everyone wants to have the results and be the best right out of the gates. But it’s the people that take it slow and steady that become the best at what they do. Be the tortoise, not the hare.

You can do it. You can make grad school much easier than it is by putting in the work and the time. For a master’s degree, it will be a quick time and you may find the whole process difficult because you aren’t there long enough. For a PhD, you’ll definitely find that it get’s easier. The questions get harder, the problems become more difficult, but you have the tools in your toolbox to handle that. You become a master. That is what graduate school is all about.

Final Thoughts

So in the end, does grad school get easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn, grow and develop into a researcher. No, because the concepts are just as hard as always. This is what makes it such an amazing time, though. You get to see how much you develop as a researcher. You can see how you become better at what you do. Next thing you know, you’ll be up for a Nobel Prize. All you have to do is believe and keep going. Trust me, it takes time.

Well, I would love to keep going but my plane has arrived and it is time to head back to Florida. My trip was pretty awesome and I have many new and awesome memories. Arkansas is a beautiful state and if you have the chance, go and visit. Also, visit the University of Arkansas. The campus was so beautiful. Anyway, I hope you guys are doing well and I will see you in the next one. Peace.

Life in Grad School

If you are a follower of this blog, you can pretty much see how life is for me while in grad school. Life in grad school has been a wonderful combination of ups, downs, twists, turns, and backtracks. Yes, it has been quite the journey and this is fairly similar to other’s who has joined me in my quest to obtain a doctorate.

When you think of life in grad school, you probably think of studying a ton, writing more papers than you ever wanted to, no time, and all other very negative things. The truth is, that usually occurs for a very small group of individuals. Also, you probably went on to some forum and read about everyone complaining about grad school and how terrible it is. You know what people love to do? Complain. Grad school is one of those things where it is easy to find something to complain about. Thankfully, life in grad school is much more than just work. It is a time to truly explore yourself and figure out who you are, and where you want to go.

life in grad school

What is Life Like in Grad School

Life in grad school is a combination of being an undergrad and having a full time job. You are not quite an undergrad anymore but not fully in the working field quite yet. You probably won’t have a very set schedule and might find that a bit hard to deal with, especially when you first start grad school. Let’s look at what life is like for master’s students as well as the crazy doctoral students.

What Life is Like in a Master’s Program

I write quite a bit about what you will be doing as a master’s student (link here). As a master’s student, your life will be a ton of classwork and maybe handling a parttime job, or even a full time job on top of going to school. My life, while in a master’s program was working as an engineer full time and getting my degree on the side. Yes, I was busy, but I chose that life and knew what was going to happen. It did not impact my job performance, but my job did impact my class performance.

Life in a master’s program can be really really really easy and laid back, or it can be excruciatingly difficult and busy. I am saying that it is as difficult as you make it. Some master’s programs are extremely easy. I have had friends do 1 hour of work a week for their entire grad school experience and spend the rest of the time lounging at the pool, going to the gym, and doing everything else they wanted. I have known individuals that spend more time at the lab than any Ph.D. student I know, getting lab work done, writing papers, and doing homework. These are the ones that are extremely stressed, but they chose that life.

Life for the easy master’s degree

If you choose the easy master’s degree then I suggest maybe getting some work experience or really honing on some skills. You don’t have to be busy 24 hours a day. In fact, you can focus on some skills or work while at the pool. It is a great way to make the most out of this time. If you just want to relax all day and enjoy the next two years, go right ahead. That honestly sounds like a dream!

Life for the hard master’s degree

The individuals that work all of the time. Their time in grad school will look a bit different. They may juggle 50 things at once and cry each night, but they are on a journey and have a set goal. Life in grad school for them will not be as fun as the easy path. They will make sacrifices in order to hit these goals. Nothing is wrong with that, but I suggest to these individuals to take time off and enjoy the two years they have in grad school. Once you start working, it kind of goes down hill.

Sometimes, you have a very difficult degree that you go into and you will need to work a ton. Engineering is especially tough and can cause you to spend a great amount of time in the library. Life for hard majors will look a lot like the person above. Luckily, it’s only 2 years. You can do it.

Life in grad school

What Life is Like in a PhD Program

Life as a Ph.D. student can have its ups and downs for sure. You are likely going to be in school for a very long time. This means you’ll experience everything there is that goes with grad school. At first, you’ll most likely be focused on school work. After your qualifying exam, you’ll go exclusively towards research. So, you really get the best of all worlds lol.

Life as a Ph.D. student has been quite a journey. I have experienced depression, anxiety, job satisfaction, job dissatisfaction, highs, and lows, and have learned more about myself than ever before. My life, as well as the other Ph.D. students, are fairly straightforward. We do work a ton, but we love to get out of the lab and do other things. Me, I play kickball and have a part time job. I love to go to the gym and hang with my cat, Sirius. Life in a Ph.D. program is almost like having a full time job that works you to death and pays you less than minimum wage. You try your best to finish the job and move on to something better while also trying to life a fulfilling life.

What it’s really like

For some people, research is their whole life. They wake up, go to work, then come home and go to bed. There is nothing wrong with them, but they do tend to burn out quickly. Then, there is the majority of PhD students that work 40-60 hours a week, have extracurriculars on the side, and enjoy hanging out and living a very normal life outside academia. It is quite a shame that people portray all PhD students to be workaholics that are burnt out and have no life outside academia. It’s simply not true. We have lives and we want to do things that aren’t related to our work. We are passionate about research, but we know that there is much more to life than being in the office.

Overall Life in Grad School

Overall, life in grad school is a fun time that will have its ups and downs. You are here to learn about complex ideas and figure some things out that help push the boundaries of knowledge. That doesn’t mean that you have to be a robot and work constantly. No, life in grad school is about becoming a researcher or lawyer or doctor but also figuring out who you are, where you want to go, and who you want in your life. I find that the flexibility in grad school allows me to accomplish all of these things and has definitely made me a more well-rounded individual. So, if you are readung this and thinking about whether or not to go to grad school, I say do it. Don’t be scared of hard work but know that your life won’t only be in the office. It will be all over the place, exploring so much.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this to be a decent post about life in grad school. I find that many people are scared because they hear so many horror stories. People love to tell you the negative things that come with their experience but leave out the positives. Grad school is a positive experience and we are normal people, just hotter (more degrees ;P). Your life may look a bit different in grad school, but that is not always a negative thing.

Well all, I hope you have had a wonderful week. It’s the weekend (when currently writing this). Do you guys have any fun things planned for the upcoming week or months? Let me know in the comments below. I hope to see you guys in the next blog. Peace.

More Graduate School Memes

In grad school, things can be quite tough. One way to overcome the sadness and stress of grad school is with more graduate school memes! In fact, today, I have quite a few graduate school memes for you to look through. Hopefully they give you some hope to finish your program and make the most out of this experience. Trust me, finding the good things about grad school will 100% make the experience so much better.

If you like this post, go check out my other meme post for more chuckles. Here is a link to that page (link). Also, if you want to read through some comics and read some grad school jokes, check out my post about that. The link for that is (here). So, let’s get into some good graduate school memes, why don’t we?

My Other Favorite Graduate School Memes

These next few graduate school memes are on the Facebook page “grad school memes with relatable themes”. If you aren’t familiar, I suggest going to check it out.

graduate school memes
by Nick Piskurich

This is me when I was getting ready for my qualifying exam lol.

by Megan Marie

I have taken a few coding classes and can definitely relate to this. As long as it runs when my professor runs it then I am good to go.

graduate school memes
by Maddy Frazier

I don’t think I’ve cried and laughed this much at a meme before lol. This one actually hits pretty hard. Kind of goes well with my post about productivity.

by Jessie Li

This one might not be for everyone, but I can relate to this one. Towards the end of your PhD, you’ll definitely understand this.

Some memes not on Facebook, I think they aren’t

graduate school memes

You are doing enough, don’t listen to them!

If you want more memes that will really make you laugh, go over to cheezburger.com. They have some really juicy graduate school memes for you.

graduate school memes

I think everyone that has ever published anything can really relate to this. For me, it was reviewer 1. Reviewer 2 was actually very nice to me.

graduate school memes

graduate school memes
cheezburger
cheezburger

Final Thoughts

I hope these memes satisfied your craving lol. I found these to be absolutely hilarious and I wanted to share them with you. If you have some good memes, post a link to the page. Anyway, I hope you guys and gals have a wonderful day and I will catch you in the next one. Peace.

Being a Broke Grad Student: It’s Not That Bad!

Today was one of those days where the universe reminded me that I am a broke grad student. I went to the grocery store today to get stuff to make ramen. Yes, I fit the stereotype and eat ramen in grad school. So, I don’t just get ramen, I get peppers, garlic, bok choy, and of course, ramen noodles. I had a gift card, so everything was pretty much free for me, but I saw that just a few items was almost the whole gift card. The cashier was even complaining about the prices of everything.

It sort of made me realize just how broke grad students really are. I didn’t have this problem before, but the inflation has really taken a toll on everyone. See, thankfully, as a PhD candidate in engineering, I make more than most grad students. But recently, the prices of everything have really caused me to have to cut a ton of things out of my life just to be able to get food for me and my cat Sirius. Now, this isn’t a post about how poor we all are and how life sucks being in grad school. No, I want to make a post about how being poor in grad school can be a blessing. So, come with me on a very optimistic journey!

First, Let’s Rant

This rant is for all you grad students working 60+ hours a week and only getting paid for 20. So, grad students work a ton. They also get paid barely enough to eat ramen noodles. Some grad students get paid so little that they are forced to take out loams while their advisers male enough money to go on multiple trips throughout the year, fix their cars when things go bad, and also pay for hospital bills. I know many grad students that have had to leave academia because they were malnourished from not being able to eat.

For those that are going to say “well you’re supposed to be poor, you’re all students”, many of us are students but work a full time job doing research. So, if you decided to work a full time job and go to college at the same time, should your boss give you a pay cut? Grad students are employees.

I do know many grad students that have to have jobs on the side in order to eat as well. I happen to be one of those grad students. The inflation has hit us fairly hard too. See, grad students that get paid a stipend only get raises when the graduate union bargains for one. Colleges do not like giving grad students higher pay and, at least for me, we haven’t seen a raise in stipend since 2017. So, basically, we all make significantly less than we did 5 years ago.

Ok, I got that out of my system, now let us talk about how being poor in grad school can actually be a bit of a gift. I will give a few examples to make things a bit more optimistic.

Being a poor grad student is a blessing

Being a broke grad student can be somewhat of a blessing, though you may not be able to see it. Let me explain a little. See, being poor teaches you a ton of very valuable life lesson and skills.

Let’s first start off with the lessons that we are taught.

Being poor makes you understand what most of the nation is going through. You understand the hardships that come with being lower class. You can share these feelings with others and know just how hard it can be for many people living the same way as you. See, you may not realize these things when you are making money and possibly middle to upper class.

Another valuable lesson that you learn is to appreciate the things that you do have. See, in a materialistic society, we always want more, more more. When was the last time that you bought something and used it more than once lol? We often buy things because we can. We always want something and Amazon or online shopping or anything has made it to where we can satisfy that want. So, we tend to by stuff to satisfy this want.

When you are poor, you start to appreciate the very simple things in your life like going on walks, hanging with friends without having to spend money, and other things like maybe taking a hike or a bike ride, if you have a bike. Simple stuff like this is what really brings us join in our lives. Those materialist items will bring some happiness, but it never lasts.

being a broke grad student

You learn how to be poor

When you have money, you don’t know anything but that. What would happen if you lost all of your money one day? You’d be in a very bad situation. You might not know what to do with yourself and you’d be extremely stressed out, that’s for sure. When you are in grad school, you learn how to live and survive on very little. You are able to feed yourself and house yourself on extremely little for a very long time. You learn how to shop for deals, live at places that you can afford, and manage money. These are skills that are not really taught in school. These are also highly valuable skills that will benefit you in the future. Once you graduate, you may continue to live this way. You might have a ton of money but live in a very quaint apartment or house.

Learning how to live on very little money has helped me so much when it comes to food shopping and apartment hunting. I have learned all of these soft skills that I wouldn’t have while working full time. So, when all of my money seems to disappear one day, I will be ready!

More Great things about being a broke grad student

Here is a list of more great things that come from being a broke grad student. If you have any more to add, please share in the comments.

  1. You won’t eat out as much. This is good for your health, unless you start buying McDonalds everyday lol.
  2. You Won’t spend all of your money on Amazon.
  3. You’ll start using coupons and figure out the best deals on items.
  4. You won’t develop bad habits such as partying every night like you did in undergrad.
  5. You’ll get very creative presents for people. You might even just make stuff instead of buying things.
  6. You may come up with a way to make side money that is passive (cough cough blogging).
  7. You don’t have to worry if you lose it all since you don’t really have much to lose.
  8. The friends in your life are “real friends” as they don’t just hang out with you when you partying.
  9. You will know what rock bottom is like and know that it’s only up from here.
  10. People will buy you tings because they know you are poor. This one is one of my favorites lol.
  11. You buy fewer items which means that you are less likely to end up on the show “Hoarders”
  12. You know you can handle tough times and become a stronger person because of that.

Final Thoughts

You know, thinking about writing this post made me a bit worried because I didn’t think I could come up with enough reasons to be happy as a broke grad student. Now I realize that I am very happy as a broke grad student and very appreciative of the time I have had as one. I know many people struggle with finances while in grad school. I totally understand and I have a post about how to handle that (link here). The best thing that you can possibly do to be a little less miserable is count your blessings. Write out all of the good things about being broke in grad school, like I did above, and really see that it is not as bad as you make it out to be. Changing our perception of something can really make a difference.

How was that? Are you feeling better about being poor lol? Let me know if you agree with my post or not. Be happy guys and gals, it’s the weekend. Go do something fun and enjoy the beautiful weather. I am hoping to go scootering tomorrow or possibly kayaking, but we will see. I hope you all have a wonderful night/ day, depending on when you read this. I will see you in the next one. Peace.

Apply For Jobs For After Grad School

I have been actively looking for jobs after grad school for the past month. I graduate in almost 7 months to the day, so I figured I would try my luck at job hunting. Man, has it been quite the journey so far. I have had quite a few interviews so far and I almost get emails daily about setting up more interviews. Finding a job with a doctorate has been pretty easy so far.

Today, I want to talk about when to really start looking for jobs and some other helpful advice when it comes to the job search. This is totally my opinion, not backed by research or anything lol. I am sure that there are studies out there on when the best time to apply for a job in grad school. Maybe I will link some in this post if I find some.

Applying for Jobs For After Grad School

This is what it’s all about. Grad school prepared you for your next phase at that usually is one of two things 1) academia jobs 2) industry jobs. If you are like me, you are probably going into industry. Yes, being a professor sounds really cool, but I want some experience first, and honestly want to make some money. At least enough to pay off loans lol.

Applying for jobs for after grad school can be difficult at first. You may not know what you want to do in life. You might be comfortable where you are and continue doing things because it’s familiar and not scary like going to a new place. I get it, this is a scary part of the journey, but also a very exciting one. Trust me when I say, it will all be fine!

What you need to do first

You have been studying for years, taking exams, writing papers, doing research, and writing dissertations. This is all you really have done for a while and now you have to find something that uses those skillsets to actually make a difference. The very first thing that you must do before applying to a job after grad school is find out what you want to do with your life. Well, find out what you want to do with your life at the moment. Your career interests will definitely change so don’t think you’ll be stuck doing the same thing for the rest of your life.

The biggest things is to search for careers that interest you. Something meaningful, exciting, maybe good paying (I can go on and on about this lol), and something that essentially makes you happy or at least feel satisfied. The people that do the best work are the ones that find meaning in what they do and are genuinely interested in the work. The ones that aren’t interested yet do really good work are called robots lol. If you are searching for a career in something that doesn’t pique your interests, you won’t be fulfilled. There are exceptions though. You may find your niche by taking a weird job that you had no interest in. This does happen, but maybe try that later on down the road.

What you need to do next

When applying for jobs for after grad school, you need to not put it off until the end. First, figure out when you are going to graduate. This is important, especially with doctorates, because sometimes things happen and you graduate earlier or later than expected (thanks Covid). Once you know when you will be graduating, plan to start looking for jobs at least 6 months out. It can be a casual look. You don’t have to go hard with applications at this moment. But see what is out there. Maybe send a few applications to large companies that hire students that haven’t graduated yet. The worst thing that can happen is you get interview experience lol.

I know many people that were stressed to get jobs because they waited until like a few weeks before graduation. They weren’t prepared and hadn’t gone through the hiring process before, so they didn’t know how long it takes from interview to first day. Don’t be like them. Plus, if you secure a job pretty far out, you can worry just about finishing your doctorate or master’s. You don’t have to worry about snagging a job.

Interviewing for Positions

You will most likely get quite a few emails/calls/carrier pigeons to schedule interviews. I had 3 in one day this week. It was crazy at how many people wanted to schedule interviews. This is great. Of course, I sent out around 20 to 30 applications so far. This will happen to you. This is also why I stress the importance of starting early. You might apply to 100 places and hear back from 1. Also, you could apply to 3 places and hear back from all of them. The job finding game is an unpredictable one.

Once you do get an interview, it will usually be an initial phone interview to make sure you are actually a person and to tell you more about the position and the company. I had one of these the other day. These are pretty informal and casual in nature. I got to learn more about the company and position I applied for as job descriptions really don’t do justice. After the phone interview, they may schedule you for an in person interview or one on the computer. These are usually an hour long and are with the people that you are most likely going to be working with. They want to see if you can do the job and are a team player. I have found these to be pretty casual too.

When interviewing, make sure to dress professionally. This includes skype/zoom/teams calls. You want to impress the hiring manager/managers from the get go. I highly recommend getting dress shirts and coats. If you are still pretty concerned what to wear, just literally Google “job interview attire”. That will give you the best examples of what to wear and not to wear for interviewing.

Here is a site that I just found that gives you a ton of description on what to wear for interviews.

Have Fun and See if it’s the right place for you

The interviewing process is a great time to have fun and learn more about the company. Getting interviews means that you stand out among other candidates. This is a major win for you because all of the hard work the past 3-8 years has paid off. Go into that interview with the confidence of someone who deserves to be there but also with having fun in mind.

One of the things I tell people is this isn’t just the company interviewing you to see if you are a good fit. It should be you interviewing them to see if that company is a good fit for your life. Many grad students go into these interviews trying to please the hiring manager so they get the job. They later find out that they absolutely hate the job and only wanted to go there because of the reputation of the company. As I said earlier, the people that do the best work and are most fulfilled are the ones that found a job that fits them.

Final Thoughts

This post was aimed primarily towards those that are looking for jobs in industry. If you are looking at academic positions, that will come soon I am probably going to apply to some positions for professorships in the next few weeks as well as postdocs. I will keep you all updated with how those interviews go because I know for a fact that those are way different that interviewing for an industry position.

I hope you guys found this to be a somewhat decent post. It is a bit different than usual, but something that is very important in the grad school community. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if you haven’t read my post about the best gifts to get grad students, you can check it out here. I will see you all in the next one. Peace!

Grad School Mental Breakdown

Today I am going to cover a very tough subject and that is grad school mental breakdowns. Everyone that I know has their own story. I have a few stories and I will share one with you. Having a mental breakdown in grad school, let alone life, is a fairly common occurrence. Life is not easy, in any sense. In fact, it is the hardest thing that you will ever do. Having a mental breakdown can be a scary thing, but there are some things that we can do to prevent them and even take control when they occur.

My Mental Breakdown(s) in grad school

I have had quite a few grad school mental breakdowns, Usually they have all occurred in the first year to year and a half of grad school. This is a weird transition for many people and these breakdowns usually occur then. The biggest mental breakdown was right before Covid. It actually cause me to seek help from a therapist. I was doing my thing in school and starting my research. I was alone for a great deal of time and always had a feeling of loneliness, but never anything that really made me have a breakdown. It wasn’t until, I think Christmas time, where I snapped. I was stressed from school, I had no one to talk to, and the feeling of loneliness overwhelmed me. My anxiety was through the roof and I had some episodes of pretty bad depression. This last a few months until therapy really started to kick in.

Mental Breakdowns are Different For Everyone

Grad school affects everyone differently. Some people are fortunate enough to go through and never have a mental breakdown. Others, have a hard time with them. Grad school mental breakdowns also have different forms. You might have a breakdown because you failed a test. You might have an overwhelming sense of anxiety, sadness, depression, and any other negative emotion. But this may only last a day or so. Some mental breakdowns can occur even longer. For me, it lasted much longer than I wanted it to. Yes, I still have mental breakdown, but they are the shorter types now.

Be Prepared

Grad school is stressful. Sometimes, the stress will be so much that it may lead to a mental breakdown. Unfortunately, this is normal. Why this is a normal thing is beyond me and I really wish people wouldn’t push themselves to the absolute limit. It’s terrible on your health and mental state. The best think you can do is prepare for something like this to happen. Until the whole system changes, there will always be mental breakdowns for grad students and college student.

One of the best ways to prepare is to handle stress early on. Grad school has a funny way of going from slow to 100 mph in a day. You might be having a good week, low stress, then get hit with 4 assignments and 3 papers all due in a matter of days. This can be extremely stressful. Being prepared and having the ability to cope with the stress can help train your mind to be able to handle the hardships that are going to come your way. One way of doing this is to take breaks when feeling overwhelmed. Do meditation. Finding a stress relief method such as exercise or even combining meditation and exercise by going on a meditation walk (Yes that is a thing).

Also, if you are able to, do not procrastinate. I think many mental breakdowns can be avoided just by starting early and getting small amounts of work done each day. Imagine you have a few assignments due but put them off until the last minute. You’re going to be stressed beyond belief. You probably won’t do your best work, which might cause you to get an F, and you’ll be stressing over it until you get started. All of these combined are a recipe for disaster.

If you Are Having a Grad School Mental Breakdown

So, you’ve tried to prepared, but you still had a grad school mental breakdown. What can you possibly do? So, there are a few things that you can do in order to reduce the breakdown that I think are quite beneficial. Some of these are really easy to do and I use them often to help reduce the chance of me having one as well as reduce the breakdown while I am having it. Hopefully some of these help.

Grad School mental breakdown
cry it out

Cry it out and then move on

I don’t remember the last time that I have cried while having a mental breakdown. I do know people that cry it out though. This works if it is something like failing a test, being overwhelmed at the moment, or anything else where the breakdown is a bit short. Just cry it out. Cry as much as possible and wear yourself out. Get it completely out of your system. As soon as you are done, you’ll probably be so exhausted that the mental breakdown doesn’t faze you anymore.

This is a good moment to calm down, forgive yourself for feeling bad, and learn from the experience. Maybe after a good cry, you realize that the grade really isn’t that bad or you might not have as much work as you think you do. You’ll have a bit of clarity afterwards and that can help solve many of your problems. A friend of mine has done this multiple times and they ended up better than fine. They also graduated with many honors and a great career.

Run Away

I don’t necessarily mean run away from the problem. I actually mean to physically run. get yourself up and go on a long run or, better yet, go sprint. You’ll probably be full of anxiety and unwanted energy. Go exhaust yourself. You really can’t have a mental breakdown when you’re running. This is kind of like crying it out. You exhaust yourself and then you might gain some clarity afterwards. You can also go to the gym and just lift heavy weights instead. I find this difficult though because during a mental breakdown, you’re mind is racing and lifting weight might not be distracting enough.

Grad School mental breakdown

Spend time with others or alone if you need to

Grad school can be lonely and this might cause some unwanted feelings to come up. If you have a mental breakdown because of being alone all of the time, try and spend some time with others. If it is the opposite and you are having a breakdown because you are overwhelmed with people, try getting alone for a while. On the other hand, if you need to be alone, try and go somewhere that in nature. Go to a park, or walk a trial in the woods. If you need to see people, call up a friend and ask them to dinner. Go somewhere that’s busy and you’ll see many people.

If you are having a mental breakdown but don’t want to go do stuff, try calling up a friend or loved one and just talk. Get them to take your mind off whatever is making you have a breakdown. Talk with them about why this happened and maybe they can give you another way of looking at what’s going on. Sometimes, you can solve your problems and calm down all because someone talked to you and possible gave you another way of looking at your problems. Sometimes, all it takes is a phone call.

Grad School Mental Breakdown Getting help

Get Some Professional Help

This is what I did. I signed up through Talkspace.com and was in contact with a therapist right away. If you are having a ton of grad school mental breakdowns, it probably means that you are not able to handle the stress and emotions as well as you could. A therapist will help you with this. I highly, highly, highly recommend seeing a therapist more than anything to be honest. My therapist truly made a difference in my life. I rarely have mental breakdowns anymore, and if I do, I know how to handle them and learn from them. I wrote all about my experience, (here). Go check it out and see if it’s something that’s right for you.

Most Of All, Be Kind To Yourself

I think the most heartbreaking thing that I see grad students doing when they are stressed or if things go badly is that they blame themselves or put themselves down. If you truly want to end the vicious cycle of grad school mental breakdowns occurring all of the time, you have to be kind to yourself. This means not beating yourself up if you didn’t do you best work or negatively talking about yourself when things go bad. I am not saying to blame other’s either, unless it’s truly their fault. I am saying not to blame anyone.

If things are overly stressful, don’t put yourself down for putting off the work until last minute. Instead, tell yourself that you will be more proactive next time and learn from your experience. You might have a mental breakdown at first, but if you are kind to yourself and learn from your mistakes, you’ll have much fewer.

I think what really helped me in the end was being kind to myself, learning from each experiencing, and growing from them. At first, this can be a hard thing to do, but keep going. Things are always hard at first but get easier the more you do it.

Final Thoughts

Having a grad school mental breakdown does not mean you are crazy or going to fail. It means that you are human. The best thing that humans can ever do is learn from every experience, get right back up, and keep pushing on. See, grad school never gets easier. It never will. You just get better. You can either “survive grad school” or you can thrive in it. If you are here because you are having mental breakdowns in grad school, remember that you are not alone. Every grad student has at least had a few. You’re human, it’s going to happen.

If you are having trouble with grad school and need some advice, I am always here to help. Send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. We can talk about ways to make sure that you get the most out of grad school as well as leave without going insane. I hope you all have a wonderful day that is stress free. I will see you all in the next one. Peace.

Dating a Law Student

Ah, the wonderful years of dating grad students lol. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re truly missing out. Grad school is intense and sdating is one of these things that can be quite tricky when you are in grad school. I have written about dating in grad school. You can check that blog post out here. Today, I want to tell you a little about dating a law student!

Yes, law school is difficult, time consuming, soul crushing, and everything else you can say that makes it sound terrible. Law students and engineering students are very closely related, neither of them stop studying. Also, neither get a decent amount of sleep. I am not going to talk about dating an engineer today. I can in future posts if you want me to talk about that. Let me know in the comments. No, today, I want to discuss what you are likely to experience while dating a law student. It isn’t as bad as it sounds.

dating a law student

The Good Things about Dating a Law Student

There are so many good things about dating a lawyer/law student. I want to discuss a few of those in this post, then I will dive into the challenges of dating a law student after this. I will then follow up with some tips and how to make sure that the relationship lasts during these really intense years. Let’s get started with the goof things.

1) You significant other is making a good decision, not just for them, but for both of you

This is mainly for people that are currently in a relationship with a law student. The choice to go to law school is a very difficult yet highly rewarding one. Lawyers make a decent living and they are some of the hardest working and smartest people out there. The choice to go to law school and become a lawyer or work in law is a very lucrative one. Your significant other will make a good living which means you’ll probably be well off as well. There are some exceptions of course, but for the most part, you both will be just fine.

dating law students

2) You are dating someone that will have a lot to talk about

This is great because dating a law student comes with some interesting things that you will learn and even some juicy gossip too. While in law school, my girlfriend always brought up all of the cool things that she learned as well as the fun things that were going on un her class. There was a ton of cool drama that I just didn’t experience while working full time. I also learned about interesting cases as well as a ton of interesting laws. Law school really provided her with a ton of cool and interesting things to talk about.

3) Law Students are smart

This is always a plus because you can have really meaningful and in depth conversations with them. The amount pf knowledge that law students have is incredible and you will learn so much from them. Just be careful and not try and correct them. Remember, they are learning how to argue in college lol. Dating someone that is very intelligent is a great way to learn more and educate yourself even more. They are also very good to show off at parties lol.

4) You can show them off to your friends

Law students are great to bring home to family. When my parents found out that my girlfriend was going to law school, you could see how impressed they were. My friends were also extremely impressed as well. It is always fun to be able to show off that my girlfriend was a law student. Now, she’s an actual lawyer, which makes showing her off even easier. lol.

5) They can help you stay out of trouble.

The best part about dating a law student is asking legal advice without having to pay lol. You can also find out if what you are doing is illegal, though I would assume that you aren’t purposefully trying to do illegal things, right? If I ever needed some legal help or to see if what I found online was actually legitimate, I would ask my girlfriend. She knew the laws better than anyone I knew, which made it great. It saved valuable time too since I could just ask her something and she would have the answer.

hardships of dating a law student

The Hardships of Dating a Law Student

Of course, whenever there is good, there will be bad. Dating a law student can be extremely rewarding, but I promise you that it will be fairly hard as well. They are busy people and the amount of work and stress that have in their lives can make the relationship fairly difficult. Hold tight though, I promise you that it’s worth it.

1) They probably won’t spend the weekends outside of the library

At the beginning of the semester, you’ll have a bit more free time to hang with them. But towards the middle and end, they’ll be in the library. The thing that really stinks about law school are the exams at the end and the competitiveness of law school. See, I only compete with myself. There are hardships in my program but at least I don’t have to compete with others just to pass a class. In law school, it’s all about out competing, out studying, out performing your colleague. This makes it hard because you will need to put in the work. When dating a law student, you have to realize that they are studying so much so they pass the class and don’t have someone else set the curve which gives them a failing grade.

Towards the end of the semester, they will be working non stop and doing a ton of readings. You may not see them for weeks, which can make things quite difficult. Unfortunately, this is how it is.

hardships of dating in ;aw school

2) There will be moments of overwhelming stress that you might have to deal with

Law school can make people lose their cool really quickly. If you are dating a law student, they might blow up on you because they are overwhelmed at the moment and are having a hard time coping. When you are under so much pressure, no matter how well you usually cope, you’re bound to have at least one outburst. It sucks, but it happens. Sometimes the best thing to do is stay out of the way or get your significant other some food. Show your support but know that at any moment, your head might be ripped off lol.

3) You might be sick and tired of hearing about cases and laws

I never want to hear about Torts again. Heck, I don’t even know what it is but I know it’s god awful. A law student has one job, learn to be a good lawyer and learn about the laws that are out there. So, that’s their life for three years and that is what they will most likely talk about 24/7. It’s cool at first but all good things come to an end. I can’t complain though because my girlfriend has to hear me talk about my research all of the time lol.

Just know that you are going to learn about stuff that you really won’t care about, but that’s the life of dating a law student. Just be happy that they haven’t found a way to send you to jail lol.

4) School will come first

You might feel like you are second to school. That is, because you are. Law school should be their number one priority and that might make you number two, hopefully not number three. It’s hard to handle this and may come as a shocker, especially if you just started dating them. Trust me, it is worth it and you will be back to number one, during summer and after the bar exam. Be grateful that they have incorporated you into their crazy lives. Just having you there means a ton. They are trying their hardest to be a significant other and a student. Of course, they will probably put their studies before you most of the time. This is why this is included in the hardships section.

tips on dating a law student

Tips for dating a law student

Here are a few tips when dating a law student. I have done it, so I know what I am talking about. Well, mostly know what I am talking about lol. Anyway, here are a few tips that can help you during the three years of law school.

  1. Learn to cook and cook for them often.
  2. You do not need to stay up at night with them while they study. They will be studying for a while. Get some rest.
  3. Encourage them to go on walks with you every so often. Let them know that there is more that their books.
  4. Just listen to them when they rant. Sometimes they just need to get it all out.
  5. Don’t get caught up in their stress. Just because they are stressed does not mean you have to be.
  6. Encourage them to find an outlet other than alcohol. Self explanatory.
  7. Understand that it will pass. Assure them that it will pass and they will reach their goals.
  8. Be supportive
  9. Big one!!!! Don’t say that law school is easy. Never do this.
  10. Celebrate the small wins.

Final Thoughts

Dating a law student can be difficult yet very rewarding. Your relationship will see all sorts of ups and downs and you’ll grow stronger together. Law school is almost like travelling with someone. You will see the best of them and the worst. Keep at it and don’t give up.

I hope this was a decent post. If you haven’t read my blog about the best gifts for grad students, I suggest taking a look (link here). These ideas are great for law student s as well. As always, I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next one. Adios!

Best Advice for PhD Students

Today, I want to discuss some helpful advice for PhD students that are starting soon. A PhD is a long journey and I am sure there are a million questions that you might have. I am here to address a few of those as well as answer any more that you might have. Instead of providing my email at the end, I’ll provide it now. So, you can email me with any questions you might have. My email is benswaringen@yahoo.com.

Ok, so you are starting a PhD and you are a bit nervous about what to expect or how well you will do. There are quite a few things that we need to cover first, so you can start your grad school journey off really well. I want to p[provide some advice that I think will help you be able to make the most out of the next 4-8 years that you are here. So, let us get started on some advice for PhD Students.

Advice for PhD Students

Advice for PhD Students it goes fast

1) 4 years will go by faster than you know

This is one of the truest things that anyone has ever told me. My doctorate will be a total of 4 years. Grad school will be a total of 6 years, which is insane to think about. These years have passed by so quickly, it hurts. When you first start you doctorate program, they’ll tell you that it’s a long 4 years. They are right, in a way. Sometimes it does feel long, but man, it can pass by really quickly. When you get to year 2, after you qualifying exams, things quickly pick up. You’ll be busier than ever and days and weeks will just fly by. Enjoy the ride.

2) You don’t need to be best friends with your adviser

I know way too many people that seem to be best friends with their advisers. It’s kind of weird and makes things awkward at times. You don’t need to be besties with your adviser. They’re your boss, pretty much, and they are here to guide you through this process of becoming a researcher. If they want to be friends then sure, be friends. Just know that you don’t have to be best friends with them. Heck, you don’t even have to like them lol. But, at least, try and get along with them. It will make your time in grad school way easier.

Advice for PhD Students write often

3) Write every day

I have written quite a few posts on how important writing is in academia. You will write quite a few papers for class, journals, and the big thesis. If you start early and write every day, you will find writing to become so much easier and natural. For me, I write blog posts in the morning which helps to get me going to write maybe a bit of my thesis or even just an email lol. I have found tat writing 1000 words is so much easier now than when I first started my doctorate. Trust me. This might be one of the best pieces of advice for PhD students that I have.

Advice for PhD Students stay active

4) Keep Active

You are going to be spending a good amount of time at a desk, writing, researching, and reading articles. Make sure to get up every so often and just get active. Sedentary lifestyles are not fun and will ruin your body. Weight gain can also occur and you don’t want that. Also, staying active and moving around will help you not fall asleep at your desk lol. You’ll feel more energetic during the day

I would suggest setting up time throughout the day to go on walks, hit the gym, or maybe do a bit of yoga in your office. Remember that a PhD is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be able to make it to the finish line and staying active is one way to ensure that.

5) Don’t be afraid to fail

This piece of advice for PhD students is a learning experience that comes with time. At first, you are going to want to be perfect with everything. You want to make sure that all experiments go smoothly all of the time. They won’t lol. In fact, you may not be able to master doing an experiment for months. You are going to fail over and over and over. Do not be afraid of it. Seriously, failure is how you learn and become the best researcher out there. You think that ever good scientist out there just came up with all of their ideas on the first try? Heck no! They had to figure it out through failures. If they were afraid of failure, they wouldn’t have even tried and then we would have missed out on some very essential research.

Advice for PhD Students stay organized

6) Keep organized

I have a huge problem with being unorganized lol. My desk is a mess and I am missing a ton of key data that is somewhere on my computer. Don’t be like me. Stay organized and establish an organization method for files on your computer. This will help you when you go to write a paper. Searching for data that you need and can’t find is extremely frustrating. If you have a lab, keep some organization in there as well. It will help you do experiments and make sure there’s no contamination (contamination = bad results).

7) Find a way to handle stress

You are going to feel more stressed in a PhD program than ever before. You need a way to handle this stress before it causes burnout or hurts your mental health. I have written about how to manage stress (link here). These are great methods to use and I highly suggest you try some of them. Stress in grad school can lead to too many problems and make the whole 4 to 8 years a nightmare. If you can manage stress early, you will succeed in your PhD.

Advice for PhD Students question everything

8) Ask Questions, even if you think they are dumb

Have you ever gone to a class and had a question but didn’t ask because you thought it was too stupid and you should know the answer? Me too. Make sure to ask those questions. It doesn’t matter if it is a dumb question because I guarantee most of the people around you will have the same question. Also, you are going to just have a ton of questions related to what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask them. The answers might really help you overcome a problem that you have. Many months have been wasted because I was afraid to ask questions that were really easy to answer. Now, I ask ever question ever so I can move forward with my research.

9) Take care of your mental health

Seriously, do this. This piece of advice for PhD students is absolutely the most important one. You will experience some weird emotions during grad school. You will feel anxious, sad, happy, lonely, annoyed, and a bunch of other feelings. Make sure to address these and find a way to combat against negative/toxic emotions. If you let anxiety run your life during grad school then you will have a bad time. There is no shame in getting help. Many times, your program will provide therapy for free. I did therapy and I truly believe that it is the reason I am still in grad school. If you want to know my experience with therapy, check out my post about it. Also, if you are still on the fence about therapy in grad school, shoot me an email and we can talk about it.

Advice for PhD Students have fun

10) Have fun

Yes, you are in grad school to train yourself to do good research and science. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun along the way. Join a sports league, pick up cool new hobbies, and try out some new things before you become a full time employee and not a student. As I mentioned before, these years will pass quicker than a Florida rainstorm in July (for those not from Florida, the storms are fast lol). Making this time a fun time will be extremely beneficial to your mental health and I guarantee you will look back on grad school and smile. Grad school is a great experience, enjoy it.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you learned a bit from this post. This advice for PhD students is something I wish other’s would have told me when I first started. We need more grad students to blog about their time in grad school. If you have some advice that I should add to this list, please let me know in the comments.

Also, if you want contribute to this site or want to buy me a coffee, you can donate below :). Thanks for reading my blog!

Having a Roommate in Grad School

So a major part of grad school mindfulness and having a good experience might come from the topic that we have today. Having a roommate in grad school can be a really good experience or you might absolutely hate it. There is an in between as well so it’s not always a love or hate thing. I have had a roommate every year that I have been in grad school and now I am currently alone because my roommate bought a house and is living there now. So, I have the experience of living with a roommate as well as living by myself.

So, should you have a roommate in grad school and what are the pros and cons of having one? This is what we are going to touch upon today because I strongly believe that this is an important topic that not many people are talking about. So, let’s first talk about the benefits of living with a roommate verses why roommates can really be bad.

Pros of Having a Roommate in Grad School

So let’s dive into some of the pros of having a roommate while in grad school, shall we?

1) Rent can be cheaper

So, this is an obvious one. If you want to save up some money, grab yourself one or two roommates and get an apartment or house together. Grad school stipends are abysmally small. Like people don’t understand that we are employees getting paid below the poverty line. One way to cut back on those costs of living is with a roommate

2) You get to come home to someone actually being there

So, if you are like me, you spend a ton of time alone in an office and lab. I really don’t get to interact with many people except my adviser and the others who share my office. Coming home to someone other than them can really help with your mental state. It was always nice to know someone else was around, especially on those days where you feel a bit lonely.

3) You might make a life long friend.

Some of my old roommates have become some of my closest friends. I mean, if we can get along living together, we can really get through anything. Having a roommate makes you interact with someone and get to know them on a more personal level. You understand their habits and how they are outside of academia or wherever. Sometimes, you find that you are very similar to your roommate and you will develop a really close relationship with them.

Cons of Having a Roommate in Grad School

So, yes, there are cons to having roommates in grad school. I have been fortunate to have some truly amazing roommates. I know people who have had roommates from hell, so be grateful if you don’t get one lol.

1) You might not get along with them

Hey, this happens. Everyone is different and you might not get along with your roommate at all. Honestly, you won’t know unless you at least try. Sometimes, not getting along with them can cause some stress that might affect your research. This can lead to some mental health issues and those are not good. If you are going to have a roommate, I would suggest either getting someone you know you’ll get along with or search around for people that would be a good fit. Sometimes, you are just tossing a coin and seeing what you get. Hopefully you get a good outcome.

2) They might eat your food

Ok, I haven’t had this problem, but I know many individuals who have had this problem. Roommates might eat the food that you bought. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t make that much money. Food is a necessity and sometimes, unfortunately, a luxury :(. Having a roommate that deprives us the happiness that is food can be disheartening. If you are having trouble with this particular dilemma, talk to your roommate and let them know it’s not ok for that to happen.

messy grad school roommates

3) They can be messy

So, I have had this problem. I am fairly clean. Disorganized, yes, dirty, absolutely not. I have had situations where my roommates have left dishes in the sink for weeks at a time. Some roommates would leave food lying around and other’s were just extremely messy. I am OK with messy, but dirty is where things get complicated. You might be in a situation where a roommate is messy and possibly a slob. This can be quite a bad situation especially if you start getting bugs because of them. In cases like this, you have to voice your concern or they won’t learn.

Next Up: Living Alone!

So, I have had a few instances of living alone in both undergrad as well as grad school. As I mentioned earlier, my current roommate has pretty much moved out and I am all alone. Well, I have Mr. Sirius to keep me company, but I don’t have a human roommate anymore. There certainly are a few pros as well as cons of living alone, that I have noticed. I would like to share with you exactly those.

Being alone in grad school

Pros of Living alone in Grad School

So let’s first talk about the pros of not having a roommate in grad school. There are quite a few but I will keep it short so you don’t fall asleep.

1) You don’t have to deal with all of the cons about having a roommate that I talked about.

You won’t have someone eating your food. No body is going to be messy, except you. And, you don’t have to worry about getting along with anyone because no one is there. These are some really good things to consider.

2) You are able to decorate your place the way you want to

I think this is a pro to living alone. You can make your place the way you want it to be. My girlfriend does it best. She has been living alone for quite some time and her place is filled with really cool things that show the type of individual she is. Living alone lets you make your home more “you”.

3) You don’t have to worry about finding a roommate

So, this is specifically for those with a joint lease. In college, you will have many people come and go while you slog through your graduate degree. Some of those people might be roommates. If you have a lease that everyone signs, when they leave, you have to replace them so you can pay rent. I lived in a house where the rent would be 1800 a month if I didn’t have a roommate. That is the equivalent of my monthly earnings. Living alone, in an affordable place, allows you to not have to worry about finding roommates to replace yours.

Cons of not having a roommate in Grad School

Of course, with every pro, there is a con. So let us dive into what some cons are of living alone while in grad school.

not having a roommate in grad school is sad and lonely

1) You’re alone

I find this one hard to face, honestly. I am alone most of the day and I don’t want to really be alone when I get home. Yes, I have Sirius. But, I would love to be able to talk to someone that can actually talk back and not meow for treats lol. Plus, if something goes wrong or if I lock my keys inside, there’s no one to immediately help me. Being alone, especially in grad school, can really put a damper on your mental health as well. Something to be very mindful of.

roommate in grad school expensive

2) Rent is more expensive

Ok, by this time, you’re probably sick of hearing me say that we are poor. You get it, grad students are poor. Well, because we are poor, it is harder on us to live alone because rent is always more expensive without a roommate. I think the average rent for a studio in Gainesville is about 1100 dollars. Rent has gone nuts in the past 5 years. A studio was about 650 dollars in 2017. Crazy!!! Anyway, if you have the money, sure get a studio. For the vast majority of us, living alone is going to be a struggle, financially.

3) Lastly, no one is there to eat the food I make.

You might be curious with this one. Often, I make cakes and desserts but I have no one to share them with. This often means that I eat a whole cake by myself or a dozen cookies by myself. I do bring them in to work, but I only share my office with one other person and she is often not there. This is a serious dilemma that I am in lol. Many people may laugh at this, but it can be a hardship in grad school. Also, I like to create dishes from recipes that I have found and need other’s opinions. Sirius doesn’t like my food, so he’s not really helpful lol. It’s definitely a con to living alone.

Deciding to have a roommate in grad school or not

It is a big decision when you start grad school to live with others or not. In my opinion, I think having a roommate is a win. Living alone, if you are that kind of person, is good. But, having someone to come home to and help you out is something I really look forward to. If you are trying to decide which to choose, I would suggest giving it a year of living with someone else to feel if it is right for you. If you don’t get along and hate having roommates then live alone the next year. At least you tried and determined whether a roommate was good or bad.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this post to be good. Hopefully you are still awake after reading it lol. Anyway, let me know what you think about having a roommate in grad school or living alone. Wat are your preferences? Do you agree with this article or no?

Also, if you have any questions or concerns about grad school, shoot me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. Also, if you haven’t read it already, go check out my post about starting a wood carving hobby. Link Here. Until next time, peace.

Anxiety in College Will Come Back, Be Ready

This post about anxiety in college may contain affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

Quite a title, isn’t it? Yesterday, I was reminded about something that I thought was over with. My anxiety flared up big time and so did the loneliness that I felt prior to going to therapy. Now, I am not asking for sympathy, in fact, what occurred yesterday was a good reminder that anxiety might be a life thing. Yes, you can do all of the coping mechanisms, all of the therapy, everything. But, in reality, it will probably always be there, just not as bad.

This blog was created with the intention of helping other’s in grad school (and now college) cope with the stress and anxiety that comes with school. It is also a time of transition in your life which may make these emotions overwhelming at points. It is normal and you are normal, remember that.

But back to what I was saying. Yes, yesterday I was overwhelmed with anxiety, probably due to the fact that I may have to move again. I was given the green light to graduate in December, which means that I need housing until then. So, I have been looking and haven’t really found anything yet. On top of that, money is a bit tight which also brings out a ton of anxiety. Enough so, that I had to leave my apartment and go on a very long walk to calm myself down. Don’t worry, I was able to calm down :).

anxiety in college

Remember to Keep Up Coping Mechanisms

Anxiety in college is a major concern and it will come and go. Many people will experience a ton of it in very stressful situations such as exams, projects, public speaking. Other people will just experience it during very normal and calm situations, such as walking to class, reading a book, or cooking a meal. It is tough but managing it and actually doing things to cope with the anxiety is a must.

If you are doing things to reduce the feeling on anxiety and possibly depression in college, keep doing them. You may wake up one day and feel totally better. This happens and it is great but that doesn’t mean that you can start slacking. I started slacking and the anxiety and feeling of loneliness hit me like a ton of bricks.

See, anxiety reduction is like a muscle. You go to the gym (coping mechanisms) to strengthen that muscle (reduce anxiety). When you get to a certain amount of muscle, do you just give up? No, you keep working to maintain that amount of muscle and physical fitness. This is like reducing anxiety. Once you feel like you got rid of it, don’t give up. You need to maintain the reduction of anxiety and keep going. It gets easier though. Some days, your anxiety will flare up but you will be ready. It might flare up for a bit but go away fairly quickly ad stay away for a long time.

Helpful Places For Anxiety Reduction

I want to share with you some more anxiety reducing techniques and a few sites and YouTube Channels that will help you along your journey to reduce anxiety in college. I use all of these ways. So, let me share a couple of free things that can help you with anxiety. Then I will talk about some not-so-free things lol.

Free

Guided Meditations

I use all of these different meditation guides to help reduce my anxiety and stress levels. The UCLA has some really great exercises that you can learn. The YouTube channels are good to use to help you meditate if you need a guided mediation.

  1. UCLA Heath Guided Mediations (link )
  2. Goodful 10-minute meditation for anxiety (link)
  3. How to Meditate -New York Times (link)

Therapy YouTube Channels

These channels will teach you ways to reduce anxiety in college and cope with those feelings. They will also give you many different ways to deal the the feeling and grow from them. I highly encourage you to check them out.

  1. Therapy in a Nutshell (link)
  2. Uncommon Practitioners (link)
  3. Barbara Heffernan (link)

Calming Music

Everyone needs calming music in their lives. If you have a stressful thing coming up, play some music from these channels. I always love the lofi music with rain included.

  1. ChilledFOX (link)
  2. Fantastic Music (link)

My Blog Posts

I have a few great posts about dealing with anxiety and ways to reduce those feelings. Go check them out and tell your friends about these posts as well. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. How to Handle Anxiety in Grad School (link)
  2. Helping Other’s Cope with Stress and Anxiety (link)
  3. Wood Carving Reduced My Anxiety (link)
  4. Let’s Talk About Anxiety Triggers (link)

Not So Free

Here are a list of therapies and apps that you can buy to help reduce anxiety and learn how to cope. I used Talkspace for my anxiety. I was matched up with a licensed therapist who was absolutely wonderful. If you want to know more about my journey through therapy., check out my blog about it (link here).

  1. Headspace
  2. Online-Therapy.com
  3. Talkspace.com
  4. BetterHelp.com

Final Thoughts

Learning to cope with anxiety is a skill that needs to be taught to all college students. College is super stressful and anxiety cases are increasing. Grad school is especially stressful and many student experience the negative effects of anxiety. Being able to control the anxious feelings and overcoming those feelings all together is difficult but essential.

If you have been dealing with anxiety and have learned how to cope with it, please continue to do those coping exercises. Better yet, teach others how to do them as well. Anxiety will most likely be with you your whole life. That does not mean that it has to run your whole life. Make sure to stay on top of it!

Anyway, I hope you found this post to be a good one. If not, let me know lol. I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you again very soon.

Best Grad School Memes

Today, I want to share some very relatable grad school memes. I have written about jokes and includes memes before. Go check out that post. (link here). The internet is an absolutely wonderful place full of ideas, creativity, knowledge, and, of course, memes. I am sure that your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anything is full of memes. So today, I want to share some of my favorite memes that relate to grad school. These can be relatable in every day life as well.

Admit it, you love memes more than really anything on the internet. I love sending and receiving them. Heck, I have even made a few. They are amazing and definitely great to just get lost for hours on the internet looking them up.

So, let me share some of my all time grad school memes with you.

Favorite Grad School Memes

This one is highly relatable, especially this week

grad school memes
grad school memes

Time for a quick break because I am actually crying a bit. Not really because these are so funny, more so that I can really, really relate.

Ok, Breaks over, let us continue seeing more graduate school memes.

grad school memes
grad school memes
grad school memes
grad school memes

The one right above this is probably my favorite so far. Most, because I am in the process of justifying my research results with small scale experiments and I’m slightly losing it. It’s a wild, yet fun ride.

grad school memes
grad school memes
grad school memes

Time for another break. How’s your day going so far? So far, my day has been pretty good. Anyway, let’s continue on with a few more memes.

This next one is me during summer.

grad school memes
graduate school memes
graduate school memes
graduate school memes

The last one for the day.

graduate school memes

Final Thoughts

How does my collection of graduate school memes hold up? Did you enjoy them? Would you want to see more in the future? If so, let me know in the comments. If you haven’t checked out the rest of my blog, go ahead and check it out. I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next one.

Best Gifts For Graduates and Graduation

This post about gifts for college graduates may contains affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

If you are stumbling upon this post, it probably means that you are looking for some gift ideas for your graduate. Gradation is an exciting time and a bit stressful because you want to get them a thoughtful gift, but that might be a bit hard to do. Today I want to give you some ideas for gifts for graduates. These gifts are great for undergrad graduates as well as those graduating from grad school. If you want more ideas for grad student, check out my blog about gifts specifically for them. (link here)

I usually focus my attention on grad students and their needs but graduation gifts can include undergrads as well. The best gifts are usually heart-felt and useful. Though, a gift card can be just as good lol. You are not here to just find a gift card for your graduate. No, you are here to find ideas on what to get them. You have come to the right place.

Gift ideas for your graduates

The useful Gift For Graduates Idea

Graduation is a special time for an individual. It is also a very scary one. Just being there to show support as they leave the safety of academia and traverse into the working and adult world is huge. This section if for the “useful” gifts. These are things that they will probably use in their job or next journey to help them achieve their goals. These are items that might be less fun and more work related, unfortunately. They’ll still appreciate them, though.

1) An Engraved Pen

This is a gift that really stands out to me. Getting a really good pen is always a treat, but getting one that someone can’t steal because it has your name on it, is way better lol. I haven’t personally received one of these gifts but I have given them to graduates. They still use them to this day. It might not be the most fun, but they will appreciate the pen every day that they use it.

2) Single Serve Coffee Maker

I have an addiction and so does your graduate. We all love coffee. According to a published article by the National Library of Medicine, 92% of college students drink coffee!!!! WOW. This means that your lovely graduate probably drinks a ton of coffee. They will probably continue this habit even into the next phase of their life. Why not help them out and get them a coffee make . I think the gift of coffee is an amazing one and much appreciated. If you want to know more about coffee and my favorite coffee brands, check out this blog (link here).

3) A Cast Iron Pan

This might be the most useful gift you can give them. I received a cast iron pan for my birthday and OMG it is the best gift that I think I have ever received. Make sure to get the Lodge seasoned skillet. Also, give some instructions on how to keep it seasons. Here is a link to seasoning instructions for your convenience. Something about cast iron just makes your food taste so good and they are so easy to clean up. This is something I use every single day, and your graduate will definitely use it just as much.

The WOW Gifts for Graduates

The gifts that I am going to post in this section are usually the more expensive ones. These gifts are fun, expensive, and will leave your graduate saying WOW. I like these gifts because they are a combination of fun and useful.

1) A new Laptop

Your graduate has probably been using their computer for the past 4 to 5 years and it might be time to upgrade. Laptops are getting cheaper, though some tend to get more expensive, and they are almost necessary in this technological age. Getting them a new laptop will leave them saying WOW as well as going a bit crazy. It’s not everyday that you receive a gift as great as this. Here are a few to look at from Amazon. I would recommend going to a nearby computer store and asking them what computer is best. They will ask a ton of questions and give you an honest answer.

2) Apple Watch

I won’t lie to you, I did get this as a graduation gift for my girlfriend, when she graduated form law school. She wears it everyday and it is one of the most useful items she has. Yes, it was a bit expensive, so that’s why it is in the WOW category. If your graduate doesn’t have one, and they have an iPhone, then an Apple Watch is a must. It will help them in their career, in their next chapter, in their life. I don’t have an iPhone so I recieved a Galaxy Watch. Both of these watches are amazing and almost necessary.

3) Help with Student Loans

If you are able to, donate some money to them and help them out with student loans. On average, students owe $36,510. That’s like a $300 a month payment for 10 years! Paying for even one of the payments is a great gift and highly appreciated. I had many people send me money to help pay off my loans. Luckily, they are deferred for now as I am in grad school, but I was able to pay off a good chunk. This is such a great idea and one that any graduate would love.

The Fun Gifts For Graduates

So, lastly, I want to share a few fun gifts for graduates. These gifts may not be too useful for everyday life, but they are fun. I love recieving these because it gives me something to do that doesn’t relate to any of my work or stressors. These gifts are meant to be mindless and just plain fun. I hope you find these gifts for graduates ideal.

1) AeroGarden

This is by far one of the coolest gifts for graduates that you could ever get. It doesn’t require them to have a green thumb either. AeroGardens are awesome and extremely fun to have. My family had one and grew basil, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme. It is extremely easy to set up and maintain and a wonderful addition to any kitchen.

2) A6 Razor Scooter

Gas prices are through the roof and probably won’t be coming down any time soon. Instead of a bike, why not get you graduate a scooter. They are light weight, inexpensive, and just plain fun. I have one and have written about it extensively (link here). This is a great gift especially for someone who lives close to work. They can ride it to the office and home without really getting sweaty. It is great exercise as well.

3) Astronaut Light Projector

This is a silly gift but man is it cool. The astronaut light projector is by far one of the coolest things that I have bought. Yes, I bought one and currently have it in my room. I can honestly say that it makes night time so much more relaxing and fun. Take a look at the pictures in the reviews and you can see what rooms actually look like with the lights. They are fairly cheap to buy as well and I guarantee that everyone will love them, no matter who you buy it for. This is a gift that I wish I received at graduation lol.

Final Thoughts

Here is a pretty decent list of 9 gifts for graduates that I think will steal the show. For my graduation., whenever that may be, I hope someone get’s me one of the gifts on here. Honestly, if someone helps with students loans, that would be amazing lol.

What types of gifts have you given graduates? I know gift cards are always popular but is there a gift that you gave that was different than what I posted here. If so, put it in the comments. I hope you all have an awesome day and say congrats to your graduates for me!

Is Getting a Pet in Grad School a Good Idea?

So you just started grad school and you want to get a pet. Maybe you have been in grad school for a while and just want a furry companion to stay up with you as you spend hours writing away. Whatever the reason, you are looking to the internet to see if it is a good idea to get a pet while you are in grad school. Well, luckily for you, you came to the right place. Today, we are going to weigh the pros and cons of getting a pet and I’ll even throw in some pictures of my cat, Sirius.

It is a big decision, you know, getting a pet

Prior to grad school, I did not take care of any animals. I was always on the go and just didn’t even want to subject a furry little creature to the lifestyle of an engineer. Undergrad was just me moving around, going to work, going to class, and eventually getting to sleep. Yes, I wanted an animal companion so bad, but knew that it was not the right time for that, quite yet.

It was also a huge decision. Getting a pet can be like having a kid. I haven’t had a kid so if this is completely wrong, I am sorry lol. You will need to feed, nurture, and love your pet. And, unless you can do this, you really shouldn’t even be considering a pet. They are a lot of work, at first, but then it gets easier.

Benefits of getting a pet

There are many benefits of having a pet. I want to list off quite a few of those benefits. So, let’s get started, shall we?

1) They will help you feel less lonely.

You really don’t understand just how lonely grad school can be until you start it. I had to go to therapy because of anxiety and loneliness. I had many people around me, yet still felt super alone. It is hard to feel alone when a cat or dog comes and plops their furry butt right on your lap. The animal relies on you and will always be somewhere near. The will show you love and you can even talk to them without them talking back lol. My cat made me feel so much less lonely which helped to boost my productivity in my lab.

2) They will keep you on a schedule

You know what the best alarm clock is? A hungry dog or cat. So my cat wakes me up at 7:30 am every day to get fed. I have an automatic feeder for dry food, but his morning food is wet food so he is really eager to get me up. I don’t even need to set an alarm anymore because I know that he’s going to jump on my chest to wake me up. It’s great because I rarely sleep in. He also let’s me know when it’s time to go to sleep at night by curling up next to me. If I am still on the computer, he’ll start walking all over my keyboard so I have to stop what I am doing. He’s good at redirecting my attention lol.

3) They will show you love, even when your PhD/Master’s does not

The best part of having a pet is having a creature love you so much and pretty much worship you. I have a cat so that is not the case lol. oOgs, however, will do that. Have you ever seen a dog not excited to see you? The answer is no, unless the dog has anxiety or something, then they might be a little timid. Animals show you so much love and they will even show more love on those days where things just didn’t go your way. It’s great to come home after a long day of failed attempts to a wagging tail or a cute little hello meow. Each day, I come home, and as I turn the corner to walk to my front door, I hear meowing, letting me know Sirius knows I am home. It’s super cute and makes the worst days better.

Downsides of Pets

Do the benefits outweigh the downsides of getting animals? It is possible. Let me share with you some not so fun things about having a pet in grad school:

  1. Dogs need to go outside quite often. You may need to get someone to take out he dog during the day.
  2. Pets can be expensive and grad students don’t make that much money.
  3. Vet bills
  4. Flea Medication
  5. Cats like to claw things…well everything
  6. When you go away, you need to house them somewhere.
  7. They may keep you from being productive
  8. Your apartment or house may smell like your animal.

There are definitely downsides to getting a pet. Probably the two biggest would be that they can be pretty expensive and you might not be around all of the time to take care of them. Dogs, especially can be a bit high maintenance. Cats, on the other had, tend to do well alone and take care of themselves practically.

What type of pet to get?

What pet do you really want in life? Do you want a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a pig? I haven’t met a grad student with a pig, but that would be a pretty cool animal to have. The two most common pets are cats and dogs in grad school. If you aren’t allergic, I would go with cats. I love dogs, but they can be a lot of work, especially if you are not home a lot. Cats tend to just take care of themselves. They are super easy.

Dogs, however, are great cuddlers and make you feel really loved. If you work from home a lot, a dog is totally fine to get. I highly suggest getting a dog that is not on the aggressive species list because it makes moving a bit easier. Dogs are amazing creatures and I wish I could have one. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time in my lab so a dog would be a bit too much.

I would highly suggest weighing the pros and cons before you make a decision. If you spend most of your day away from your home and just want an animal to come home to at the end of the day, a cat would be the way to go. If you want an energetic creature that shows nothing but love and you have the time and energy, dogs all the way!. If you want a bit of both, go for cats and dogs. Other creatures that are great pets are snakes, lizards, fish, and rabbits. I am fairly certain that all of these are pretty easy to take care of as well.

Final Thoughts

The best thing that I did for my sanity (emphasis on mental health), was get a cat while in grad school. He has taught me about responsibility, compassion, and love. He is also always there to keep me company. I don’t know how I could have done grad school without him. If you are thinking of getting a pet, please, please, please adopt one from a humane society. I adopted Sirius from the Humane Society of North Central Florida. They are always overwhelmed with animals coming in that need loving homes. I guarantee you will find your furrrrever buddy there or at a human society in general.

Getting a pet in grad school was one of the best things I did and has helped me so much. I strongly encourage you to get a pet, if you can. Show them love and I guarantee they will show you love back. Let me know about your pets in the comments. Until next time, peace!

Dating in Grad School

I am quite surprised that I have not covered this topic much sooner. This is a huge subject that hopefully I will be able to do justice. Dating in grad school can be a wonderful, difficult, frustrating, exciting, and overall fun experience. Yes, it will require a ton of work, and some patience, but it is do-able. I have had many friends date in grad school and I am currently dating a wonderful lawyer now. Yes, you can even date lawyers lol.

As I said above, it can be frustrating, exciting, and totally worth it. In some cases it might not be the best idea to date in grad school. Sometimes, you will be so bogged down with work that you won’t be able to put in any effort to make things work. For the most part, I truly believe that dating in grad school is very possible, though it might be difficult in some ways which I will discuss. Also, here’s a helpful guide to those thinking about dating a grad student lol.

How Dating in Grad School is difficult

Time

So, I want to start off with the difficult aspects of dating in grad school. The first real hurdle to bypass is dealing with your workload and having time to develop a relationship with an individual. If you are constantly working, you won’t have time to really see the other person and really bond with them. This can lead to many failed attempts at getting a boyfriend/girlfriend. Grad school is busy, and can be overwhelming at times, which makes finding time to see and hang with someone difficult.

Age Difference

Age can play an important role in dating. Grad students are usually a bit older than undergrads so they may tend to date outside of the college. I know many people that have a hard time because the vast majority of college students are much younger than them and they have a hard time relating to undergrads. Age definitely is a factor when dating in grad school.

Not being able to connect with others

Grad students are pretty much from another planet. We thrive off of failure and low p-values. The stuff that we talk about, thinking it’s trivial, might be so complex for non grad students. This often makes it very hard to connect with people. Our problems that we face are not normal problems either. Dealing with lab equipment failing, loneliness, depression, low wages, and rejections from journals might not be the most common problems to connect with people over. This can make dating other people a bit difficult because you can’t really bond over problems. Yeah bonding over problems is a real thing lol.

People are always coming and going

If you are in a doctoral program, you will be in school for a minimum of 5 years after undergrad. That’s a long time in the academic world. You are going to see students come in as freshman and leave before you even get your first paper published. This is why dating is very hard. People tend to come and go so much and long distance relationships are quite difficult to have while in grad school. It is not like you ca get up and go with someone to a new town and just continue your research. In some cases you can, but for people that require a lab, it’s impossible. This is why it’s very hard to date, especially when you’re significant other is done with college and looking for jobs or moving away.

Benefits of Dating in Grad School

Trust me when I tell you, dating in grad school is doable. It has a ton of benefits as well and I am very happy that I am in a relationship while going through this process.

Support

The support I receive from my girlfriend is one of the reasons I haven’t given up. I’ve been in grad school for 5 years and I’ve been in college for almost 11. I need the support. Having someone in grad school that supports you can be the difference between giving up and graduating. Of course you can finish without having the support of a significant other. I’m saying that it makes it a bit easier. Also, having someone else in your life can help with financial support. Something we all need lol.

It helps take your mind off work

I want everyone to know that working all of the time is toxic and a terrible idea! Dating in grad school gives you a really good excuse to leave all of your work at work and go and enjoy yourself. If you are just starting the dating process, go to as many fun things as possible. Go to the movies, dinner, shows, etc. Leave all of your work worries in your office and go enjoy yourself and the company of someone else. You’ll start to notice that you’re happier and you’ll probably do better in your research and school work.

You’ll feel less lonely

If you haven’t read my blog about feeling lonely in grad school, I highly suggest checking it out. Here is a link to that. One of the things you will definitely experience in grad school is feeling lonely. Dating in grad school will help that a ton. It’s nice to be able to come home and talk with someone about your day. Often grad students don’t get that opportunity because they are in the lab all day then go home to an empty apartment. It can get quite lonely. Having someone to see after a long day by yourself can really make your whole day. It can also help combat depression and anxiety.

So is it worth it to Date in Grad School

Coming from someone who has been in a 6 year relationship, yes it is worth it. In fact I was dating my girlfriend while she went to grad school and now she is here to support me through my experience. It can be done. The best part is being able to have someone there for the support. I truly think that that support is what is keeping me here.

It may take a bit of effort and time but I think dating in grad school is totally worth it and a great way to spend your free time. Being able to spend the time you have with someone you like or love is time well spent.

Final Thoughts

What was your experience with dating in grad school? Did you enjoy it? Are you still with the individual you dated? Would you advise people to date in grad school? Let me know in the comments. As always, I hope you have a great day! Until next time, peace!

Should You Do An Internship in Grad School?

It’s internship and job hunting season. I bet you didn’t know there was such as thing. Well in college, there is lol. It usually occurs right after career showcases happen, usually February. Summer is the most popular time to do an internship, so people are trying to secure one before they go on break. Obtaining an internship for the summer can help pay for expenses during the fall semester, and in some cases, pay for classes as well. I have known many individuals that have gotten high paying internships and paid for their tuition just from 3 months of working! So, internships are great to have.

Now, should you get one while in grad school? This can be a tricky question to answer because grad school is much more different than undergrad. First off, grad school covers a very broad range of studies. Grad school includes master’s, MBA, PhD, law degrees, medical degrees, education degrees, and a whole lot of other degrees that I really don’t know much about. In undergrad, it’s mostly dealing with a bachelor’s degree, which most are set up the same way, course work. Grad school can be course work, teaching experience, research based (me), or some other strange teaching method lol. This makes it difficult to find time to do an internship. Sometimes, it can be impossible.

Woman Coding on Computer

Master’s Students

During your master’s, you will probably have summers free. Take full advantage of internships if you are in this position. In fact, I highly suggest getting one to get an understanding of the types of jobs that you may have after college. Master degree holders are very valuable, so finding an internship isn’t as hard as you may think. Also, you can negotiate a higher pay because you are a degree holder already. Do not sell yourself short.

For master’s students, I would suggest looking at companies that you are interested in working at and applying there. This serves many purposes. 1) You will get your foot in the door and can put that on your resume. 2)You will get experience at the company and they will most likely hire you on as a full time employee, with a higher salary than a person just starting. 3) You will get paid over summer and get valuable work experience lol. 4) You can also see if you like the job that you are applying for. If you get an internship and hate working as that position, then you saved yourself a ton of time and can try another position.

Gold and Black Statue of Man Holding Book

Law Students

If you are a law student and wondering if you should get an internship, then you came to the right place. Law students are some of the busiest and overworked individuals that I know. I am dating a lawyer and my current roommate is a law student. One of my best friend’s girlfriend is a law student as well and all of my girlfriend’s friends are lawyers. I am surrounded…Let me tell you, law students make great employees and getting an internship while in law school is imperative. You need the experience of being a lawyer or you’re going to have a hard time after college. Being a lawyer is not like law school. You will need some experience to become a well rounded lawyer when you pass the bar and go work for the big law firms.

Summers are open for you to get an internship wherever you want. My girlfriend had a ton of internships and got a ton of experience before she left college. Summers were spent working for quite a few firms as well as the public defenders office. I believe she had internships during the second year of law school as well. When talking to her, she always stresses that getting these internships were essential to getting a good job.

For those in law school that are deciding whether or not to get an internship, trust me when I say DO IT!!! Get one for summer and make the most of it. Do an internship this summer and next and take the final summer off to study for the bar. I guarantee you will thank me later for pushing you lol.

Free stock photo of art, artistic, arts and crafts

PhD

PhD students spend the whole year ding work. For those doing research, you probably won’t be going and doing an internship, though this isn’t always the case. I have known individuals getting their doctorates that spend their summers at internships, usually somewhere related to their research. This is important because they can use this time as experience for their own research goals and maybe even incorporate it into their thesis. Some research PhDs do internships on the side while working on their own research full time. If you do this, make sure that it is alright with your adviser and doesn’t set you back in graduating.

PhD students that don’t do year round research may definitely do an internship during the summer. This is a common occurrence for individuals that are only paid for 9 months and probably teach to get paid. Internships help to supplement the 3 months out of teaching and help to hone their skills in the field that they are studying. Getting an internship while doing a PhD is very common, though not many people really talk about it, surprisingly.

Final Thoughts

Yes, grad students can do internships. Depending on what you do, you may not have the time to be able to do an internship or you risk setting back graduation. Other times, getting an internship is the best possible thing you can doing while getting a grad degree. It can help you find a job, find what you are passionate about, and even earn you a bit of money. If you are in a position where you can get a internship, I suggest going for it. Get the experience. It is well worth it.

Let me know in the comments if you think it is good or bad to have an internship in grad school. Also, if you have had an internship as a grad student, tell us about your experience. We would love to know more.

Please Be Kind To Yourself

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I have noticed many new students beating themselves up because they don’t understand something or they are having a hard time with experiments. Honest, this really upsets me. I know how hard one can be to themself. I was that individual that would put myself don if I got a B on an exam. God forbid I get any lower. It has taken years of self help and a whole year of therapy to get to where I am today.

Grad school is here for one purpose, to learn. One thing that comes with learning is failure. Failing over and over and over is a hard, yet important thing to do during this time. Yes, there is a lot of pressure from your adviser to do well, but they want to see you try and learn along the way. They do not want to see you beat yourself up over small things.

Be kind to yourself. You will make a ton of mistakes in grad school, but as long as you learn from them, those aren’t really mistakes, right? I have seen way too many people leave because they just couldn’t take the stress of grad school. It’s hard, and that gives you even more reason to be kind to yourself while going through it.

I do not want you to end up with a mental health issue by the end of your academic tenure. I have experience quite a few problems throughout my journey and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. So please, be kind to yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff.

This blog post is a bit short, I know, but it is an important one. I want to make sure that your experience through grad school is a pleasant one and sets you up for a wonderful life down the road. This time in your life can be very hard. Most people are in their mid 20s and just starting out in life. Being kind to oneself can make sure that mental health issue don’t arise. This is why it is so important to be kind to yourself, take breaks, and make sure to show yourself love. It was the best thing I ever did for myself.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you

More of My Favorite Quotes

I wrote a few months ago, a blog about my top 10 favorite quotes. Since then, I have read and heard many more quotes that I want to share with you today. If you want to check out my last blog, here is the link to that page. I figured that motivation might not be as high today to do work so hopefully these quotes give you that boost of energy and motivation to get right back to being productive. If not, then I suggest checking out my blog on how to be more motivated (here).

Photo of a Sign and Eyeglasses on Table

Anyway, let’s get into the quotes that I have read/heard recently that I think are worth sharing.

1) “If we do it now, we’ll never run out of time”-some Redditor (lol) 

2) “If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success”-John D. Rockefeller

3) “There is nothing permanent except change”-Heraclitus

4)”If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”-Albert Einstein

5)”In order to write about life first you must live it.”– Ernest Hemingway

6)”The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”-Stephen McCranie

7)”Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” -Jonathan Lockwood Huie

8) “It’s okay to look back at the past, just don’t stare.”-Dover

9)”Two of the most important days in your life are: the day you were born and the day you find out why.”-Mark Twain

10)”In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” -Robert Frost.

Final Thoughts

I hope these are some good quotes that are inciteful and possibly inspiring. Let me know of some more quotes and I will probably make another post with them. Until next time friends, stay amazing!

Surround Yourself With Success

I have met a ton of people in my life. I have made friendships and have ended friendships. And if you are anything like me, or like literally every other person, you have probably done the same. For me, I have gotten to a stage in my life where I am focusing on quality over quantity. As you get older, your friend group tends to shrink. You will have many acquaintances, but very little close friends. Of course, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, your friend group will shrink. This is why finding quality friends and being able to surround yourself with success is optimal, especially when pursuing an advanced degree.

Grad School

Grad school will introduce you to some brilliant individuals. You will meet a ton of like minded individuals as well as many people who may have differing views. Grad school is also a great time to surround yourself with people that will help with your success. The 2 to 8 years in grad school will fly by so quickly that you might not have too much time to prepare for what comes afterwards. This is why it is so important to start early by finding people that will help you along the journey and help you achieve your goals.

surround yourself with success

Surround Yourself With Successful People

If you want to achieve your goals, surround yourself with people that will help you along the way. These people will provide you will the support and care that you need. Grad school is hard. Being alone for most of the day and working on stuff that you know very little about is hard. This is why a really good support system is need to keep you going. I have gotten to the point where the people in my life are there for a reason. They are all really great friends to have with qualities that make them really stand out. I have friends that encourage my blog posts, friends that help keep me in shape, heck, I have friends that just talk fishing with me. Each one has changed me as an individual and made me a much better person.

It is important to surround yourself with people that will help you but it equally as important to help them. For example, many of my friends are grad students and have similar problems that I have. They trust me enough to come to me and talk through these problems. I provide a great service, even if it is just me listening. Just simple acts like this can benefit their life and make you an overall exceptional contribution to their lives.

successful people

Here are a few things that help you surround yourself with success:

1) Find individuals that have similar passions or goals.

This is great because then you can bounce off each other and achieve your goals together. One example for grad students is writing. Make friends with the people that also need to write. You can keep each other accountable, and next thing you know, you both have written your dissertation in a reasonable amount of time. This is a great example of surrounding yourself with success and also being that “successful person” that the other person needs in their life.

2) Just talk with people and see if they have something that benefits your life.

I do not mean just use them to benefit your own life, I mean find good qualities in their life that will help to benefit yours. They can just be a really positive person and that can give you the boost to see the good in life. The person may just love to cook or something and you love to cook. It gives you something to bond over and hone your skills together. Everyone can offer something. Of course many people have different things to offer such as being a partier or maybe they do illegal things. It might be wise to not surround yourself with people like them.

3) Put yourself out there and see who you attract.

This might be a good way of understanding the type of person people see you as. You may think you are a positive person 100% of the time and then attract a lot of negative people. It might actually be good to see this and maybe reevaluate your goals and the type of person you are. Put good out in the world and you will receive good.

4) Go to events that help you succeed.

You will meet a ton of people that want to be successful at events such as conventions, workshops, anything professional related, stuff like that. Of course you can meet a ton of these people elsewhere, but this is a location where it’s pretty dense with possibly like minded and beneficial friends. I go to grad events to meet other grads because I want to surround myself with similar individual. This helps my success. Going to bars, you may find these people but they are harder to find.

5) Lastly, understand that it takes time.

It may take you the whole 2 to 8 years of grad school to find the right people to surround yourself with. This is totally ok. It is not a race to see how many friends you have. It’s about finding quality and that takes time sometimes. I was fortunate to find very helpful and just plain fun individuals to spend my time with. Some people may take longer to find their niche, but it will happen.

Final Thoughts

Surround yourself with success! Everyone wants to grow as individuals and this is a sure-fire way to do just that. This blog post turned out to almost be an appreciation post to my friends. This is also an appreciation post to my audience as well. I have surrounded myself with writers and blogs, and dare I say it, friends. Those in my life and those on the internet have molded me into who I am today. Without everyone’s love, support, and guidance, I wouldn’t be as fortunate as I am today. Thank you all.

How Do Grad Students Afford Rent?

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Affordable housing seems to be going away quicker than the money in my bank account. I have noticed that a plethora of apartments have been going up around the campus, yet nothing that is in a reasonable price range. They are all “luxury apartments”. Grad students, though we would love to live there, really just can’t afford that. Most of the grad students actually pay about 40% of their paychecks to rent at UF. I think I am right at that as well, so not much left to save or spend on actually healthy food.

So, how do grad students afford rent? The simple answer is, they sacrifice something in order to pay rent. Many grad students will skip meals, skip seeing the doctor or dentist, skip eating out (which isn’t too bad), and also they will probably not have a car and stay in the town for the majority of their grad school experience. Sacrificing fun stuff as well as important things such as doctor visits is a major way to make sure rent is paid.

Stack of carton boxes of various shapes and sizes scattered in floor near white walls during relocation

Here is how grad students afford rent:

1) They take out more loans.

This should only be done if you really can’t afford housing. Try and find places that are more affordable to reduce spending and reduce your debt as well.

2)They take on other jobs.

This can some times be hard, especially for international students that can’t get other jobs outside of their academic duties. Having a side gig is great but don’t let it get in the way of why you are here, to get your degree.

3) They apply for scholarships.

Many universities have scholarships that you can apply for that will help pay for most things, rent being one of them. If your school doesn’t have this option then try looking for scholarships on sites like Scholarships.Com, Fastweb, ScholarshipOwl, Cappex, Niche, and Goingmerry.

Happy diverse couple using laptop while relocating into new apartment

4) Grad Students get roommates

This is an obvious answer yet can be slightly difficult. Many, and I mean many, of the apartments are pay by room now. There are still pay by apartment complexes but they are very far away from campus. The new things is pay by room which means that the apartment complex can charge more for the whole unit. It is nice because you don’t have to worry about getting a roommate but also quite frustrating when trying to pay. Get a roommate and find somewhere that is relatively cheap to split the cost.

Final Thoughts

Grad school can be extremely costly and housing is one of the biggest chunk of payment. It is hard to pay for rent sometimes, but if you are truly driven and passionate to finish your studies then you will find a way. Above are just a few ways that I found how grad students afford rent. I have done 3 out 4 of these in order to pay for rent and I know how difficult it is. If you are going to grad school, make sure you have a plan. Good luck!

My Cat Won’t Let Me Work

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Today is going to be a slower day of work! Thank goodness for the holiday season because nothing gets done and that is totally fine. There are a few things that I need to do, but for the most part, I am going to relax, blog, maybe make some Pinterest pins, and go workout. I am currently working from home right now so I have extra company, my cat Sirius, but my cat won’t let me work. If you have read any of my blog, you know that he is a main component of my life. To give some background, my roommate was fostering him (I pretty much took over that job) and I fell in love with him and his brother. They were both the cutest kittens ever and I wanted them both but knew taking care of a cat was a huge responsibility. Luckily Sirius’ brother was adopted which made getting a cat way easier. I adopted him right away after seeing how unhappy he was at the adoption events at PetSmart.

Assorted Color Kittens

Benefits of my cat

Anyway, Sirius has been a huge part of my life and my mental health and overall an amazing addition to my life. It is always great to come home and hear him meow really loudly because I am back. Definitely a wonderful cat, but he won’t let me work lol! I think all cat owners know of this problem. In times of remote working, our pets are really the ones benefiting from this. They are getting more attention than ever. For me, however, I spend most of my days in my office or my lab. This leave Sirius alone to roam the apartment.

Grey Kitten On Floor

I understand

I understand that he wants attention. It’s hilarious because he’s super shy unless I am on my computer, then he is right up in my face, hitting all of the keys and scratching at my monitor. It definitely makes it hard getting work done, but you know what, that’s good! It can be annoying when they walk into the camera view while you’re on a zoom call, but that’s hilarious. Sirius made an appearance on my qualifying presentation and it made one of my committee members laugh. It was hilarious.

Yes, I won’t get things done in an extremely quick manner, but that’s fine. I am enjoying my cat’s company, he’s having a good time, and we are bonding. It is well worth it.

Photo of Orange Tabby Cat With Red Handkerchief

Get them toys

But if you are having a hard time getting work done because of your cat, might I suggest investing in more cat toys! That has helped me a lot. When I was doing my qualifying exam and working from home for 2 weeks straight, I got Sirius a few toys to keep him busy. Luckily for cat owners, cat’s usually sleep during the day. Sirius was asleep for a decent amount of time but when he was up, he was playing with toys and not bothering me. If you are having trouble with your cat walking all over you ever second, I suggest getting them a few toys. This one specifically is Sirius’ favorite. I think it’s because of the catnip lol. I wrote about the different cat toys that you can get them here. Go check it out if you want ideas.

Final Thoughts

I know this was a bit of a random blog post, but sometimes you just need to write something random. Cat owners know that struggle of trying to work from home and having your cat just flop on you keyboard without warning. It’s cute and annoying but I am happy my cat does it. Plus, he keeps me from doing work which is always good and I enjoy life more. If you have a cat, let me know about them. If you have written about them, link to a blog post about them so we can all check it out.

Make Your Own Adventure

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Life is one crazy ride. Think about it. You literally wake up on a planet, hurling through the universe at extremum speeds. You wake up to sunshine, water, animals, television, and literally an infinite amount of other crazy things that have yet to be discovered. On top of that, you are able to interact with everything and actually manipulate your surroundings. That’s some really crazy stuff right here if you sit down to think about it. Life, itself, is a gift that we often take full advantage of, and that is pretty sad. Many people wake up and just think that all there is is work, sadness, hopelessness, and depression. I feel so much for these individuals because life is way more than that. It is the opportunity to explore the world, to express yourself, to learn, and most importantly, to love. It is an opportunity to make life one big adventure.

My life adventure

Recently, I was able to explore all four of those mentioned above. I went on an amazing journey back to California, which you can read about here. My girlfriend and I decided to make our own adventure and do some fun activities while in Cali. These included visiting my hometown, getting lost in Los Angeles, hanging out at as many piers along the coast as possible, and lastly, surviving the harsh conditions of DEATH VALLEY! Today, I wanted to share with you some of the pictures from the trip. The trip itself was not as planned out as most people would like, and I think that’s why it was so fun. We pretty much just winged it and created our own adventure.

Death Valley

So, if you have never been to Death Valley, or have even heard of it, it is the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America. The temperatures in the summer get up to like 120 degrees Fahrenheit. From a quick google search, I can see the highest ever air temperature recording came from there at a whopping 134 degrees! Holy Cow! Well, we went in the winter which was way better since the high for the day was 55 degrees. That part may have been planned out by us lol. But pretty much, Death Valley is just one giant desert with a ton of different areas that you can visit. It is not just one big plain heat sink. No! There are sand dunes, salt marsh area things, hills that have 20 different colors, mines that were used for borax extraction, and a whole bunch of other places to see. It was so cool!

Picture Time!

I would like to share some of the pictures with you. My camera really didn’t capture the true majesty of the area. When I say breath taking, I mean it!

It’s funny because the pictures really make it look like it was extremely hot that day when in fact I was freezing. Anything below 65 degrees is super cold to me so I was especially cold when the temperature in the morning was 45 degrees. Yes, I know, it’s not that cold. But it is when you have lived in Florida for most of your life lol.

Final Thought

Making life an adventure really makes living so much more enjoyable. Living for the moments is a great was to live and I highly encourage you to make life your greatest adventure. I have become a much better person because I have realized that life is more than a career. It is so much more than working each day for 2 weeks of vacation time. So, I encourage you to try something new, go places you’ve never been, and write the next chapter of your life. That’s what I am doing. Also, if you are thinking about heading to Death Valley any time soon, check out this blog about going (link here). It has all you need to prepare yourself for some amazing adventures.

Shopping on a Grad School Budget

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shopping

Thanksgiving is usually the beginning of the Holiday season. Some people would argue that Halloween is but they are wrong :p. It is going to get busy for everyone in grad school here on out. You are probably neck deep in papers, presentations, experiments, loans, everything. Trust me, this time of year can get crazy just from school, but remember that there are other things that will probably make you say “I quit” such as present shopping and visiting family. The long drives to see family are also crazy and I suggest checking out how to make them easier (blog post here).

I did write about all of the stress that comes from the end of the semester but today is about the stress of the season. As a grad student, you are both an adult and college kid at the same time. It kind of stinks because, while everyone else is going on trips, buying presents, spending money, you are studying for finals, trying to get presents that you can afford, as well as just trying to be able to survive at this time of year. Money is sparse so I want to list off a few things to maybe do to save money and make everyone happy with gifts. Also, you need to be able to treat yourself too. This is extremely important. Here is a list of ideas on how to still save money and have a great holiday season.

1) Get crafty

I highly suggest making people presents instead of buying presents. Unless I really need something, a homemade gift is the best thing to get me. Anything edible is a plus to be honest. Many people don’t really want anything, but we all sort of expect to get gifts. It’s human nature, honestly. So instead of spending hours at a store or online shopping, why don’t you get crafty and make a gift. You can even do some wood carvings ;). If that’s not something you want to do, I highly suggest just baking a cake or cookies or something. It will be extremely cheap and everyone loves a food item.

2) Go to a local shop and buy something homemade

If you don’t feel crafty, taking a trip to a local market or shop is a great way to get gifts for everyone. They will most likely have things that you definitely won’t find on Amazon. You are also supporting local businesses which is a major plus. Bring a friend along and help them find gifts as well. Local shops usually have really high quality items too that are extremely unique and fun. This is probably what I am going to do this Christmas.

3) Stick to a budget

This is so hard to do some times but it is essential. count up all of the people you will get gifts for and then maybe assign a dollar amount to them. Couples are easy because they can count as one person lol. Next, add up the amount you assigned, tack on a factor of probably 1.25 and that will be your amount to stay under. the 1.25 gives you a more realistic goal since you will probably end up paying more for some people. If you can keep under budget, that’s great. Use the left over money to pay for rent :).

4) Try to reduce guilt when buying things

You may feel guilting for buying and not buying things. Some people expect fancy gifts, this does not mean you need to get those gifts for them. If they really want to get a diamond necklace for Christmas, you may need to let them know that you literally cannot get that for them. Spend within your means, please! Plus, if you do buy them something that amazing, they will probably expect that every year. Don’t do that to yourself. You may feel guilting for not buying expensive gifts for other, but just know that you come first. I’d rather not have anxiety because of finances than make people happy with expensive gifts.

5) Limit who you give presents to

Get your family and friends presents, of course. But, you don’t need to get 3rd cousin Charles a gift or the guy that lives 4 doors down from you that said hello to you one day. You can definitely be generous and get them gifts but maybe go with more of a baked goods approach. You don’t need to go broke to please everyone.

These are all things that I am definitely taking into consideration when getting presents for those in my life. Please be mindful about small stuff such as this. You don’t need extra stress in your life. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed during this time, take a step back and get away from the stress. I know that is hard but your mental state is far more important than the stress that comes with the holidays. I hope you guys have a good end of the semester and remember to take many breaks. Also, be kind to yourself. Show more love to yourself and others. That’s what this time is about anyway. Thanks for reading!

Be Thankful Everyday

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thankful

Thanksgiving is here. Honestly, it seemed like last Thanksgiving happened a few weeks ago. These years sure fly by. Today, we give thanks for all that we have in our lives, and launch off model rockets lol. I just want to tell you guys that you don’t need just one day to show thanks or what you have. Be thankful everyday of the year. Here is a list of some of the things I am grateful/thankful for:

1) My friends and family

2) My health

3) My cat, Sirius

4) cookies

5) This blog and all of those reading and commenting

6) My education

7) The motivation I have to finish my doctorate

8) Scootering

9) Model Rocket launches

10) Time away from work

These are just a few of the things that I am thankful for. What are some things that you are thankful for? Let me know in the comments. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Maybe Stay Off Social Media

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Yesterday, while walking on the treadmill at the gym, a YouTube video popped up talking about a “dopamine detox”. I could kind of guess what that was based on the name but I was curious as to what it actually did. Ironically, the dopamine kick was probably the reason I clicked on the link and watched the video. Next thing I know, I am researching this exact subject and trying to prepare myself for my very own, dopamine detox.

detox

Detox video

If you have no clue what I am talking about, I suggest you watch this video, below.

So this was the exact video that popped up. I highly suggest watching and possibly trying it. The overall concept is to reduce the “high dopamine” hits that we have each day such as social media. By reducing these things, we will start finding more enjoyment in the smaller dopamine boosts such as working on your side business, exercising and maybe your hobbies.

Time away from things that matter

I spend way too much time on my phone and social media, yet I constantly complain how busy and how much work I have. When I actually get the motivation to do the work, I realize that most of the time “doing the work” is spent on my phone. That’s why it takes so much time. I am going to try and stay off of social media for at least one day each week. If I can get to the point of being off it completely, then I will be one happy guy.

In conclusion

I think that this might be a good experience to try and I will definitely blog about it in the next couple of weeks to update you all on how it’s going. I have done this one time before, unknowingly, and the time away from social media was amazing. Wish me luck! Anyway, I just wanted to update all of you with something I found pretty cool. I hope you were able to read my blog post about feeling homesick (link here). As always, I hope you all have a wonderful day and I hope you are all extremely productive today!

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Winter Weather and Lack of Motivation

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I’m starting to think that I write way too much about having a lack of motivation. Honestly, this is such a common occurrence in my life that I can’t help but talk about it. I am quite sure that this is a common problem that all grad students face and it’s about to get a lot harder in the next coming weeks. See, it’s the end of the semester which means a couple of things 1) Thanksgiving break 2) Finals and 3) graduation (if you’re lucky) or winter break. What do all of these things have in common? They all bring a lack of motivation to do work for class. Heck, you’ve probably already calculated the bare minimum score for your final to pass and plan on aiming to get there.

Gloomy weather

Another reason why the end is so difficult is because of the weather. We have some crazy weather events that occur in winter, down in the swamp. We get pretty decent cold fronts that cause for extremely gloomy weather. today is one of those days, you know, the type of day where you binge watch Harry Potter and drink coffee in bed. Yeah, this is that type of day. Below is the current weather radar. Looks like today and tomorrow will be pretty unproductive.

For those that are finding it hard to get work done, I get you. I really do. Honestly, you’re motivation to get anything done is going to dwindle pretty quickly. This is normal and everyone, even those working full time, are going to experience it. Just keep on keeping on and be kind to yourself. Doing any work on days like today is an accomplishment that deserves a Harry potter binge watching marathon.

Some motivation

If you are truly unmotivated to do anything, I suggest checking out my blog on how to get motivation and create it yourself (link here). This is probably a good time to hone those skills before the end of the semester hits you. For me, and most PhD candidates, the end of the semester doesn’t mean too much. We usually don’t follow that schedule. For master’s students, this is a stressful time. Make sure to take care of yourself during these times. Also, take plenty of breaks. If you get burnt out during this time, there’s not much time to recover.

Winter is coming

Another thing that might show up during this time is some form of the winter blues. The weather, lack of sunlight, and stress of completing the semester could be a recipe for disaster. I am not sure if this is something that would work for you or not but I recently bought a light therapy lamp (this one). I know, I know, I live in Florida where it has more sun than the rest of the states. This is true but I leave my apartment relatively early and get some late. Also, my office doesn’t have windows so I need a bit f help. I have read great things about these. This might be something good to get to help you through these next few weeks.

I am going to leave you with a video on seasonal affective disorder by my favorite therapist, Emma McAdams. I’ll always send you guys her way. As always, I hope you have a wonderful day. It’s Friday, so do something fun after work or relax.

Panic in Grad School

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This morning, I woke up around 4 am to a panic attack. These happen every once in a while, so I’m usually well prepared. Usually, what sets them off, are just random little things. Things such as not being able to go to the gym that day, or will I have enough money in 20 years to eat dinner. That last one was actually something that set off a panic attack. Anxiety is weird sometimes. Last night’s panic attack was set off by a significant worry that I have, writing my thesis.

How do I start?

I am not the type of person to procrastinate. They say that many PhD candidates wait until the last 3 months to write their thesis. I was looking into how I could start writing mine the first week of grad school lol. Procrastination gives me too much anxiety, which in this case is a good thing, and often makes me feel ever worse. So, instead of waiting for the last minute, I get it done or start tackling it right away.

Now my thesis is well underway, but I still have a few more chapters to write. Luckily for me, my papers that I submit for publication are my dissertation chapters. Many students not in a STEM field may have to write papers but their thesis is completely different. That is actually something that my friend is currently dealing with. Her dissertation is much different than the papers she is publishing. So she has a lot of writing to do if she wants to graduate next spring.

Is it so scary?

Woman in Gray Tank Top

I have read many horror stories about writing a thesis. Unfortunately, when you read very negative things about something, you start to look at it in a negative manner. This is how I am starting to look at my thesis, at least at a subconscious level. Waking up with a panic attack because of a writing assignment is nonsense, but it did happen. There are some things that I am going to try to reduce the chance of this happening again. Let me share with you what I am thinking of trying. Oooooo another list from Ben!!!

List of changes that I am going to try

  • Write at least 500 words a day. This is a good start and very easily done. Many of my blog posts are about that and that takes no time at all. As long as I don’t try and make everything perfect, I think I can hit this goal.
  • Every other day, format or rewrite sections of my dissertation. Eventually, I will have to proof read my thesis, so might as well do it along the way. After I write 500 words of course.
  • Take a break from writing ever once in a while. I do this with blogging. Writers block is such a terrible thing to experience whe you are close to a deadline. I don’t want to experience too much of this so I’ll take many breaks.
  • Be kind to myself when I don’t hit my goals. Writing a dissertation is hard. Doing the work is hard, but doable. By beating myself up, I am accomplishing nothing. I want to make this a good experience since it is really a major milestone in my life.
  • Waking up early to go to the gym so I can write at night. When I get home,I tend to make dinner, go to the gym, then watch tv or play with Sirius (I do both at the same time mostly). By switching gears and going to the gym in the morning, I can have the evenings to write, eat dinner, and hang with my favorite cat. I won’t have to worry about getting to the gym either. Also, my sleep schedule will be better.
  • Lastly, I am going to try and get to sleep much earlier than I have been. Mornings have been hard since I go to sleep so late now. Time to switch up my schedule a bit and start my days off early. I have a bad habit of staying up late that stems from undergrad. See, I was a partier so staying up was necessary. I gave that up long ago, but the habit stayed with me.

I think that these are some good changes that might set my anxious mind at ease. Graduating is my goal, but I have to conquer this herculean task. If you are trying to write your thesis, and you are having trouble or pretty anxious about it, maybe try some of these things that I am going to start doing. They might help. If you have any other tips for me to try, please leave them in the comments. The next few months might be stressful for me, but I know I can handle it. I hope you all have a wonderful day. Also, if you haven’t read my blog about what to do when stressed, I suggest taking a look. the link is here. Also, below is a really great presentation on writing your thesis. I suggest checking it out. It is very long.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Everyone Gets Nervous

I was going to write a different blog post today, but I think this is an important one to write today. I had a pretty big meeting today with everyone on my research project. They told us that it was “informal” yet everyone had pretty pre-rehearsed presentations and pretty well put together slides. I had to present my data that I have collected over the past year and present them to a bunch of pretty big named researchers. It was kind of nerve wracking, but I made it through, thanks to the skills I have written about (here).

Holy smokes

Anyway, I noticed something that really caught me off guard. My adviser was showing signs of nervousness. Now when I say this surprised me, I mean “holy cow! he actually gets nervous!?!?!?” My adviser has been a professor for 20 years and every presentation that I have seen him give, he’s very relaxed. So, see him somewhat nervous actually made me less nervous. I realized that give presentations to literally anyone can make you nervous.

Seeing this made me realize even more so that we are all human, and that is wonderful. Now, I want to specifically address grad students. Your adviser is human. They have gone through everything that you have ever and will ever do in your academic career. They still get super nervous during presentations and I guarantee they experience imposter syndrome. Nerve feel like you are alone when feeling this way. It is the process of becoming a scholar. Even the “giants” that we are supposed to be standing on have all been nervous or anxious.

Overall, it was a good day

Today was a good day, not because I got through my presentation without any questions, but because I learned something about people, specifically my adviser and the other researchers. We are all human and trying our best and that is something to be proud and grateful for. It was also a good day because I got orange chicken from panda express :).

I want to leave you with a YouTube video of ways to reduce nervousness/anxiety. As always, I hope you have a wonderful day!!

Happy Halloween

Today is my absolute favorite holiday. Halloween is just such a cool holiday that has an amazing build up. The only other holiday that is more fun the month prior to it is Christmas. Thanksgiving doesn’t even come close.

Woman sitting holding pumpkin

Halloween is just so fun because of all of the decorations, parties, and candy. Lots and lots of candy. It is also an awesome day for my cat, Sirius, since he is a black cat.

Today, I am going to a wedding where we are allowed to dress up as Vikings. This will be my second themed wedding, which is pretty cool if you have never been to one. My girlfriend and I are going to dress formally but also have Viking stuff on as well. It should be a blast.

This blog is going to be very short because we have to get ready. I just wanted to tell you all Happy Halloween and I hope you and your kids get tons of candy! If you haven’t already, check out my blog about some interesting Halloween facts. (here and here).

Have a wonderful day, and I will see you all tomorrow!

Do One Thing That Scares You

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Lately, I have been really trying to find ways to be a productive as I can. For about a month, I was just running on fumes practically and going with the flow. My motivation to really do anything was lacking and I just wanted to stay home, watch TV, and go to sleep at 8 pm each night. The reason for this was because I hit burn out. PhD students take a comprehensive exam/qualifying exam as well as an oral presentation. I have written about it (here and here). This was a month long stress fest that ended in burn out. In fact, they have a name for this specific burnout called Post-Qual Slump (PQS). They even made a comic about it too (here). Luckily, that lack of motivation has passed.

Because of all this extra productivity that I strive to achieve, I have come to some scary situations that actually aren’t that scary. For someone who is more introverted than extroverted, I tend to get anxious about simple things that require me to venture out of my comfort zone. These include 1) emailing my advisor 2) asking for help 3) calling someone 4) going to things alone and so on and so on. Literally things that are really not that difficult are actually quite terrifying.

Man in Black Shirt and Gray Denim Pants Sitting on Gray Padded Bench

I am not alone. These are very common things that make grad students anxious, surprisingly. So, to make them less scary, I have decided to tackle these head on. Well, I’m starting small by only tackling one thing at a time. Each day, I have been doing one thing that scares me. So for example, this morning, I reached out to someone about information that i need. I asked for help, essentially. Honestly, it wasn’t that difficult to do, but for a minute, I was a bit anxious. I did it anyway.

What I am trying to do is convince my brain that there really isn’t any danger with what I am doing. I am facing a fear, convincing myself that it wasn’t scary or dangerous, then later, my mind will remember that it wasn’t bad. Boom! Less anxiety. This is the same concept that they teach in a speech class. Presentations are one of the scariest things that you can do, if you aren’t adventurous lol. My speech professor told us the best way to get over being nervous and scared is to just do it. This is how I was able to conquer that fear.

Each day, find something that makes you nervous, like calling somebody, or going to the movies alone (surprisingly common fear). Start small and you will start feeling more confident in everything you do. Soon, you’ll realize how easy things are and how not-so-scary they actually are. Below is a great video on how to face your fears through exposure.

I hope that you are able to face all of your fears and take back your life. Have a wonderful day.

100 Things to Be Grateful For

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The title says it all. There are many things to be grateful for and here are 100 of them. This very post will be my lucky 100th blog post. Well, technically yesterdays post was, but I deleted a blog post to make this post my 100th! Hurray. Anyway, I have come a very long way since starting this journey, and I have a heck of a long road to go. But, I am super excited to what this road brings.

Today, I want to focus on 100 things that I am grateful for in my life. I have written about things that I have learned throughout these years (link here), but I have only touched up on the things I am grateful for. So today, I am going to tackle this behemoth of a list and post all of the things that I am truly grateful for. Here we go

The List of Things to Be Grateful For and What I am Grateful For

  • My Girlfriend
  • Coffee
  • My family
  • Grad School
  • Waking up at sunrise
  • Going to bed at a reasonable time
  • My cat, Sirius
  • The ability to mess around in my lab and call it “science”
  • The many nights of just talking with my friends
  • My friends
  • Key lime pie from Blonde Giraffe
A Person and a Layered Cake
  • My therapist
  • Talkspace.com
  • Fall weather in Gainesville
  • The Florida Gators
  • My advisor
  • Good deeds
  • Nice people
  • Even mean people (it makes me appreciate the nice people more)
  • The Florida Keys
  • Fishing
  • Engineering
  • The time spent with my family
  • Weekends
  • Lab work
  • My committee members
  • Being able to say I am a PhD Candidate
  • A good show on Netflix
  • That Good Will Hunting is a movie
Brown and Green Grass Field during Sunset
  • Sunrises
  • Sunsets
  • Waking up each morning
  • being alive
  • Long lists
  • Productivity
  • Good memories
  • My apartment
  • The scooter that I just bought from Amazon
  • Vanilla cake
  • The University of Florida
  • The many people that have helped me in my doctoral journey
  • My boat
  • Having an income
  • My health
  • Personal training
  • Being able to do stadium workouts
  • Experiencing the struggles of life
  • Walking!
Blue Body Water
  • Mother nature
  • The beach
  • The ocean
  • Travelling
  • Being able to carve wooden figurines
  • Knowing how to do calculations on excel
  • Not being afraid to give presentations
  • Ajahn Brahm
  • Being able to listen to really good music
  • Trees!
  • Dogs, especially both of mine, Loki and Thor
  • Alligators. They’re cool
  • Turtles
  • My office mates
  • Random strangers that say hello as you walk by
  • Puppies
  • Kittens
  • Being able to get fresh food from the store
  • Technology
  • The washer and drier
  • Being able to look out a window (you appreciate this more if you have an office without windows)
  • Audible books
  • Google Pays
Close-Up Photo of Person Holding Pizza
  • Pizza
  • Literally any food that has cheese
  • My brain
  • All of my senses
  • The feeling you get when something just makes sense to you
  • Silence
  • Meditation
  • Life lessons
  • My failures
  • All of the teachers that I have had
  • All of the heart breaks that I have gone through
  • Finding happiness in every situation
  • I really appreciate the influx of skateboarders on campus
  • Electricity
  • To add to that, AC
  • My car
  • Water
Frozen Margarita
  • The occasional margarita
  • Kickball leagues
  • My name
  • My future
  • Being able to go home to a really comfortable bed
  • Growing in everything I do
  • The good days
  • The bad days
  • Mindfulness
  • Seasons
  • Blogging
  • My readers

This is a very long list of the many things that I am grateful for. Let me know in the comments of all the things you are grateful for, well not all, just put a few lol. I hope you guys have a great day.

Financial Stress in Grad School

I wanted to write about something that is hitting hard for quite a few of us lately, financial stress. That is the stress of being poor in grad school. I have written about dealing with finances in grad school before and how to reduce spending (link here)(here‘s another great resource). This blog is about dealing with the stress that comes from grad school finances. Being poor for many years is part of the process, unfortunately, and I am here to tell you that your concerns are justified. It may be tough now, but I promise you that it will be worth it.

Couple Sitting on the Couch

One of the biggest anxiety triggers that I have are my finances. Even something as small as taking my cat to the vet caused me to have a panic attack at 2 am. Luckily, I am skilled in coping mechanisms so I was able to reduce anxiety enough to get back to sleep. I am not in the worst financial situation by any means, but I know many people in grad school that are. Financial stress can really lead to many problems and ultimately cause an individual to leave the program altogether. Something that none of us want to happen.

Macbook Pro Beside Papers

The graduate union on campus recently posted a survey about the financial struggles that graduates face. The results were extremely alarming and extremely sad. People were taking multiple part-time jobs on top of working full time just to pay fore housing. Many people couldn’t even afford groceries because they had to pay for other expenses first.

U.s. Dollar Banknote Lot

Grad school stipends are extremely low. I remember receiving my appointment letter and freaking out because I was going to make about 40% less money by going to grad school than staying at my job. I told myself that 1) receiving a PhD will be worth it and 2) this will be quite a great adventure. Man, was I right about both. I think a huge stressor is seeing people that we graduated undergrad with getting senior positions and making six figures while we eat leftover pizza and ramen. It is a struggle.

For those that are reading this and struggling to make ends meet in grad school, you are not alone. It is something that we are all facing and will probably continue to face. I promise you that this will pass and you will get a career that pays you fairly. This is a learning experience and will be beneficial, I am sure of it. There are many resources that I am sure your college provides. I suggest taking a look to see what resources there are and taking full advantage of them.

One benefit is you will know how to manage money really well, a skill many people do not have. You will also know how to shop bargains, have fun without spending money, and I believe you will find happiness in small things, rather than large, fancy, things. This is something that I found to be 100% true. I have started to really appreciate all of the free things in my life such as long walks, trail hiking, and spending time at my pool (I know it’s not free but you aren’t spending any extra money).

This chapter of your life is quite hard. Will it be the hardest part? I don’t know, but it will be difficult in many ways. I hope that financial problems do not cause any extra stress in your life, like it has with me. One day, we will all be OK.

Wood Carving Reduced My Anxiety

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I took up wood carving when the pandemic first started last year. While most people were enjoying making bread in their new bread maker, I was learning how to hold a knife and not cut myself (spoiler alert: I cut myself). I don’t really know what caused me to start making wood carvings. It just piqued my interest.

The start of quarantine was quite an amazing time since we spent more time inside with loved ones. We made bread like crazy. The Tiger King was…well king. And, it gave us more time to try out new things. I remember that after buying a wood carving set, some chisels, and gloves (make sure to get gloves). If you are interested, these are the ones I bought (here and here). I then started watching Doug Linker’s Youtube channel, and basically followed step by step with what he was doing. Even if you aren’t into wood carving, I suggest watching some of his videos.

It only took maybe a week of practice to understand the basics. I bought a whole bunch of basswood (like this) and just carved as much as I could. I eventually got good enough and made a few little figurines for my parents and my girlfriend.

Here are some of the figurines that I made. Each took about 4 hours to make but four hours flies by when you are carving. Each one is about 3 to 4 inches tall, so they are relatively small, but super cute lol.

As the days turned into weeks, I started kind of getting bored with just carving small figurines. So, like any reasonable wood carver, I got bigger tools and started making even bigger carvings.

This was a chunk of wood that I found, about one foot tall, that I carved an owl into. I wanted a bigger project to work on, since I really didn’t have anything else going on, especially in my PhD program. This carving was done with a dremel and then I painted the inside to really make the owl POP!

Well, after getting a taste of something bigger, I wanted to go even bigger. My goal was to learn how to carve with a chainsaw. Now, I am not trained in using a chainsaw so I had to watch a ton of videos on how to do it. The people made it look so simple on Youtube, but looks are deceiving. I bought myself an electric chainsaw (I am a college kid and poor, please remember that), and set out to carve a tiki. The tiki was a Christmas present so I wanted it to be amazing.

It turned out pretty awesome, though, taking pictures of it didn’t really show all of the contours and shadowing that made it really stand out. I will update this post the next time I go to my girlfriend’s dad’s house, where it currently resides.

Through this whole experience, I was also doing therapy. I brought up wood carving almost every session and my therapist kept encouraging me to make more carvings. She told me that having a hobby such as this was an excellent way to calm an anxious mind. I totally agree with that statement because:

  1. Carving allows you to focus on one specific task at a time. If you get distracted, you may cut yourself pretty easily.
  2. It keeps you off social media
  3. If you carve outside, there is a sense of peace that comes over you and you become “one with nature”
  4. IT KEEPS YOU OFF SOCIAL MEDIA!!!

I found that the more I carved, the less anxious I was in that moment. Carving is like meditation, you focus on one thing and stay in the present moment. Instead of focusing on the breathe, like in meditation, you are focusing on the cutting and not getting cut aspect of carving. Soon, you get in almost a trance like state, and all outside distractions tend to disappear. I feel like you can almost use wood carving as an alternative to meditation, that is, wood carving that doesn’t require a chainsaw lol.

College, especially grad school, can be a very overwhelming time and cause a ton of stress. I found that doing a simple task can help significantly. I wrote about how hobbies are great to take up in grad school. If you are looking for a way to pass time, be creative, and get some much needed anxiety relief in, then I suggest checking wood carving out. It is super easy, fun, and inexpensive, which is always a plus. It has done wonders to my mental health and I know it can help with yours.

New Beginnings: Moving in Grad School

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Cheerful modern male and female in comfortable casual clothes unpacking car trunk in green garden of new house while moving in together

I just wanted to post a blog about the new stuff that is happening in my life and how I am reacting to these changes. Many grad students will be going through some really crazy changes right now such as actually going back to school, moving to new places, or even deciding what pizza to get because the pizza place you love closed down :(. My new beginning comes in the shape of moving to an apartment for the first time in 6 years.

The move

I moved into a new apartment today and met my roommate for the first time. He seems like a very nice guy. He just moved here and is going to school to be a lawyer. That’s awesome for me because I don’t have roommates that party all the time anymore. I moved in pretty early this morning and had my friend, my dad and my girlfriend all help me move in. I had enough stuff to where moving with more than myself was much needed. It was great to be able to start a new chapter, which will be the last chapter of my grad school experience.

Stress

Moving, as well as starting my qualifying exam has me quite irritated as well as feeling many different things. I feel lonely, sad, happy, anxious, excited, nervous, etc. I wanted to write this blog to let you know, if you are experiencing these feelings today, or any day, you are not alone. Most importantly, you are human and these things are natural. Sometimes they aren’t completely natural and you may need help, but if you are feeling this way after moving or starting a new chapter in your life, then it’s totally fine.

Always pay attention to the good

This chapter of my life has been stressful as well as the best thing I have ever done. For those just starting a grad program for the first time, know that you will have quite interesting and possibly new feelings. This is normal, and you are not alone. Anyway, I will try and update my blog ever few days. My qualifying exam is two weeks long and I’m on day 1 tomorrow. Light a candle, say a prayer, sacrifice a goat, do something for me lol. I want to leave you with a quote from Robin Williams “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Blogging to Help With Mental Health

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Today is an important day for me. Today, I will have written 50 blog posts. That may not seem like many, but trust me, it’s a ton for someone like me. I started writing blogs as a form of outlet, almost like journaling. My anxiety was creeping back, even though I had a significant arsenal of coping mechanisms. Journaling was not one of those methods that I had tried before. Also, I wanted to give back to the world somehow. There is already too much suffering in the world and I wanted to add a contribution to help, even just one person, suffer a little less. Today I want to discuss why I am blogging to help with my mental health and why you should too.

I am Super Excited

I received an email today about my blogs. I was so overwhelmed because it was an appreciation email. They loved my writing and wanted to let me know that they loved it so much, they couldn’t stop reading. This is what it is all about, my friends. Blogging to help your mental health is more than just writing about my problems, it’s finding solutions and helping those with the same problems, solve their problems. So many people in this world just care about themselves. I completely understand that mentality because life had me feeling this way for a very long time. I found this was helpful to get what you wanted in life, but you aren’t really contributing in the best way you can.

Why Did I Start

Two months ago, I decided to take a journey to help people, rather than just help myself. I wanted to help graduate students (and now undergrads) that were experiencing mental health and giving helpful ways to cope. I also wanted to help with their fitness, but soon found that focusing on mental health needed more of my attention. Don’t worry though, more fitness blogs will surely follow. I found that the more I wrote, the more feedback I received, the less anxious I became. Blogging is a good coping mechanism, but mixing it with giving helpful advice, well that’s a recipe for success.

How Blogging and Journaling can Help Your Mental Health

One of the best things that I learned to do was write down what I was feeling and figure out all of the things that were causing my anxiety. It is tough, sometimes, to just think about what gives you anxiety, In fact, that may even give you more anxiety lol. Blogging and journaling have been my go-to to figure out what is going on, what I have been doing to prevent it, and how I will take care of myself from here on out.

Writing down your fears and worries almost solidifies those things. It is easier to tackle to the problems when you see them directly. Also, journaling and blogging allow you to figure out that what is causing you problems really isn’t as scary as you think it is. For example, I was always nervous to order things at a restaurant or fast food joint. Literally, talking to the cashier gave me anxiety. I get it, it’s stupid, but it really isn’t. There are thousand, maybe millions of people afraid of the same thing. Writing it down was one of the best things I did because I realized how silly that was. I wrote down all of my fears about that particular anxious thought and how I will try and cope. I was able to work through a fear just by writing it down.

Where I will go From Here

I have found a little place in this world of blogging, my niche. And in so, I have found that my anxiety, my stress, my depression, have been reduced to levels I haven’t seen in years. I wish I could go back in time and just tell myself that it will be a long journey, but one where you find yourself, at least I have found 28 year old Ben. I may be a lot different in 5 years ;P.

Please Reach out and Trust The Process

If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, any form of mental health, I want to add one more coping mechanism to your toolbox, and of course that is blogging. It has helped me to express myself and openly to other people. There are so many people in the writing community that have been so supportive. Honestly, the blogging is a way to cope with my anxiety, but, you, the reader, have helped to significantly reduce my anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Blogging has helped so much with my mental health. I want to take this time to show my appreciation for the blogging community. Throughout this journey, I have really been able to rely heavily on the care and support of my fellow bloggers. We are a family. The guidance, inspiration, and support have benefitted me and my readers. Without your support, I would have given up a long time ago. Thank you so much, blogging community! I owe you more than you know.

If you are wondering more about the use of blogging and journaling as means of handling mental health, please reach out to me at benswaringen@yahoo.com. I would love to tell you all of the benefits that come with this wonderful method. Also, if you just have questions related to college or grad school, I would absolutely love to discuss it further with you. I am here to help you guys through this journey. You don’t have to do it alone.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Habits of a Successful Graduate Student

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Surviving grad school can be a tricky thing to do. You will be faced with a significant amount of road blocks in the 2-8 years that you are in school for. Some of these roadblocks are easy to traverse around while others may be a bit more difficult. But, with a few good habits, you can train yourself to take these head on and be quite successful, or at least survive. Here are 8 Habits that I have found quite useful to have when in grad school.

  1. Stay consistent. Stick to a schedule and try and keep that such as getting to the lab every day at 9 am and staying until 5 pm. By having a routine and sticking with it, you will find getting things done way easier. I stick to being in the lab from 8 am to 6 pm. This gives me enough time to get stuff done and doesn’t have me doing extra work in the evening.
  2. Make time for joy. Remember that life is so much more than your work. Why people say differently is so mind boggling. What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Figure that out and do it after your work day is up. Or, doing it during the work day when your experience are running lol. A grad program can be long but that doesn’t mean that your life stops. Finding joy in your life with increase productivity, I guarantee that,
  3. Exercise. I have a ton of blogs on exercising and how it helps. Stay consistent and exercise often. You will be happier, more energetic, and a much better grad student.
  4. Sleep at a reasonable time. Sleep is as important, if not more, than anything on this list. There are many effects that can occur if you do not sleep enough. Read more about it here.
  5. Learn to motivate yourself and don’t wait to be motivated. There is a great video by Therapy in a Nutshell about motivation. I suggest watching it. Here it is.
  6. Make your bed. You have probably seen this all over the internet. It’s true, making your bed is a great habit to have. Here is a great video to watch that is also extremely motivating. I hope it helps.
  7. Stay off social media. Social media is such a distraction, especially when you don’t want to do work. By learning to stay off of it, you will be more productive, and, to be honest, happier. You can get way more done in a shorter amount of time so you can leave and go do things that bring you joy. This is a habit that I am currently trying to get. It is hard but worth it.
  8. Meditate. Mental health is as important or even more important than physical health. Making this a habit can be the difference between finishing your doctorate/ masters or not. Trust me when I say, meditation is a life saver. Read about how to start here.

These are a few habits that I think will help you finish this journey. Grad school is tough, but with help, you can survive and thrive. I hope you already have some of these habits down or you are willing to try and create these habits. I know they will help you significantly. If you are having trouble getting motivated, I highly suggest taking a look at some of the courses at INeedmotivation.com. Here’s a link to those courses.

Learning to Meditate in Grad School. A Guide for Beginners

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So you are stress beyond belief in your studies and you need a way to relax. I guarantee that someone that has noticed your stress has said that you need to exercise and meditate. There’s good reason to bring both of these up because they work. I want to share how I got started with meditation and hopefully it can help you start as well. Here are a 5 pieces of advice will get you started on your journey to enlightenment, or at least stress reduction 🙂

  1. Download the app Headspace. In my last post, I talked about how it is one of the essential apps that I have on my phone. There is a reason for this. I use it everyday to meditate for at least 10 minutes. They have a step by step approach that you will catch on to very quickly. It is a great tool especially when starting off.
  2. Find a quiet place to sit and meditate. Once you have Headspace or if you are using YouTube, Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. This is essential because you need to be as relaxed as you can get. Once you find a place, I recommend sitting or laying down. I find laying down easier, but you are prone to falling asleep, so you can pick whichever way you want to meditate lol.
Meditation, a simple guide for beginners. | by Imed El Mokhtar | Medium

3. Follow the instructions for beginner meditation in Headspace or on YouTube, or really on any meditation app. Here are a few good YouTube meditations that I have used in the past. Meditation 1,2,3,4.

4. Focus on your breathe. This will help to clear out the thoughts that will populate your mind. Focus on your breathe going in and out of your lungs. After a while, you’ll notice that you will go into a very relaxed state. This is where the magic happens. I have experienced all types of weird things at this stage, from colors, to faces popping up, even hearing weird sounds. Just keep in this relaxed state as long as you can.

5. Dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to mediation if you can. I feel that right before lunch is a great time to meditate because after lunch, I know I will fall asleep. Stay consistent and I guarantee you will be a more relaxed person.

Meditation is extremely easy and has amazing benefits. Benefits include:

  1. Reduction of Stress
  2. Anxiety Control
  3. Stronger Emotional Health
  4. Increased Attention Span
  5. Generates Kindness!!!!
  6. Improves Sleep
  7. Reduce Blood Pressure
  8. May Help Control Pain

These are all reasons to start meditation in grad school. You may experience a ton of problems that meditation can help fight against. I took up meditation for anxiety but now I do it to help emotional health. I am a stronger person because of it and way better mentally. If you have any questions about getting started, send an email my way. I can send more information.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Best Purchases for Your Cat

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Making decisions in the moment can be super stressful and down right anxiety inducing. One of the “spur-of-the-moment” things that I did 2 years ago was adopt my cat, Sirius. It amazes me how, at the time, well a little bit after the moment I adopted him, I thought it was a bad idea. I let fear and anxiety take over and really cause me to rethink my choice. If I could, I’d go back in time and slap my past self and tell him that getting a pet was the best thing you’ve done in grad school. Getting a cat is a big responsibility, but ultimately, an amazing choice. I would do anything for my little guy. Anyway, if you just so happened to get yourself a kitty in college, here are some cat toys and things that I bought him that make him happy, my furniture happy (no claw marks), as well as me happy, along with my budget. Here are the best toys for your cat.

Cat Toys! and other things

1. A SmartCat Pioneer Pet Scratch Post

Best investment ever! It will set you back about $50 but it’s worth 1000x’s that amount. Sirius’s claw’s are sharp and my arms, legs, chest, and face can tell you that lol. This scratch post keeps him from clawing at furniture in my house, which is a major plus since the furniture belongs to my roommates. I put this first because this is most important.

2. A cat shelf

I specifically got Sirius this one. He absolutely loves climbing onto these and hiding behind the plants. It also acts as a scratch board so he doesn’t scratch anything else. You can see that scratch boards are very important.\

3. Plush Flopping Fish

Oh man, this is a good one. It is rechargeable and he goes crazy for this toy, mostly because there is catnip in it. Sirius will spend most of the day cuddling it on his hammock too. I have some great pictures. Here’s one.

Image

4. Cat Hammock

I purrrrsonally got Sirius this one, though I believe any hammock would be just fine. He only sleeps in the hammock. I put a blanket on it to keep him warm and that’s all he needs. The window hammocks are the best because he gets to look out and see the birds and people outside from the comfort of a bed. A win-win.

5. Bird feeder

I got him a suction cup bird feeder that keeps him entertained for hours. I am usually at the office for a good amount of time so I want him entertained until I can come home and play with him. This is the perfect thing to get and you also attract a ton of cool birds as well as squirrels.

6. Cat Spiral Springs

I buy Sirius super fancy toys like feather toys, roller coaster circuit toys, as well as a cat tunnel, but his favorite toy is just a simple spring that he can hit around. Honestly, just get your cat a wire tie and they are good to go for the day. Super simple and effective.

These are things that I feel cat owners should buy. They have worked pretty well for me and my cat loves them. If you are a grad student and work long hours, I would strongly suggest getting something like what I have shown above to keep your furry friend happy until you get home. Let me know what you buy your cat to keep them entertained and happy.

How I Prevent Panic Attacks

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One thing that I, unfortunately, deal with are panic attacks. I can remember my very first one which caused a whole progression of events that led to about 6 months of depression. That panic attack was brought on by pre-workout and way too much stress.

I get panic attacks every so often but they are no where close to the first one I had or the other few that I had prior to therapy. Let me describe to you what it felt like. People often say that it is like having a heart attack. This is 100% true. My heart was racing, I was sweating, my thoughts were going all over the place, and I had the worst anxiety of my life. I honestly thought I was dying, but at the time, I was actually learning a valuable less, how to get help and get healthy. Of course I did was not thinking about that at the moment I was having the attack. In fact, I was having thoughts that were creating more anxiety such as “Will this continue throughout my life? Will I ever recover? Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?” All thoughts that really didn’t help.

I eventually learned that I needed help and that was one of the best things that I ever for my mental health. If you are like me, you do not want to have panic attacks. This is why I want to share a few ways that I reduce the attacks so I don’t have them nearly as bad.

  1. See a therapist

I want to start off with this because taking advice from a stranger online is not the best way to help with the anxiety you are feeling in life. See someone that is a professional and really dive deeper into why this is happening and what can be done to stop it.

2. Give your panic attack a name

Name your panic attack. Tell it that you don’t want it around and that it is not welcomed. This helps for me, though not as much as other methods that I will discuss.

3. Go outside and just breathe.

This is mindfulness and it will help. What I do is put my phone and electronics as far away from me and I go outside and just take a ton of slow, deep breathes. I will immediately feel a reduction in panic.

4. Do Not Try And Control It

By trying to control the panic attack, you can actually make it worse. I did not know this until my therapist as well as many other therapists from books and videos told me this as well. They say that your body will adjust to what is going on and make it seem less bad the next time you have a panic attack. By trying to control it, you can make the next panic attack stronger and you do not want that,

5. If you can, just go on a jog

A quick run or jog usually tires me out. The racing thoughts do go away when you are running so it helps for the moment. It will also tire yourself out so the panic attack may go away quickly. If you have trouble breathing though, do not do this. Some panic attacks will make you hyperventilate so this method of reduction is not advised

6. Go on YouTube and play lofi music. Then think of a place that you feel secure and comfortable.

Picture your “happy place” and stay there for a bit in your mind. Take a moment to really calm down in your happy place. Mine is in a boat, in the Keys. I go there often.

7. Tell yourself “This, too, shall pass”

It is a good mantra to tell yourself. This moment will pass and you will get through it. You will be a stronger person because of it and you will be ready when or if it happens again.

I use these methods when I have panic attacks. Honestly, they aren’t even panic attacks anymore, more like a bit of heightened anxiety that I have learned to cope with. I promise you that you can get through whatever you re going through, but you need a bit of time. Nothing is wrong with you, we all experience this, but sometimes people experience worse panic attacks than others. You can get through this and anything else that is thrown your way. I hope these methods reduce your panic attacks and I hope you get the help you deserve. Have an amazing day.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Relaxation: The First Step to a Reduction of Anxiety

One of the most important things that I learned while getting therapy was to take time to relax. This can be 10 minutes a day or a whole week, like what I am doing now. Take moments tp just be in the moment and not think about everything else that is going on in your life. By doing this, I can guarantee that a great amount of anxiety will just disappear.

Relaxation is essential for our bodies to recover. You can only drink so much coffee before you have to stop what you are doing and rest. It’s such a shame that society makes us believe that we need to be doing something every second of each day. It lies to us, tells us to work, work, work and relax later. I have quite a few friends that are almost addicted to working. I ask them, “Why don’t you take time for yourself and just relax?” Every single one of them replies with the same or similar answer. They always say that they want to work hard now so they can have a relaxing future. Now, I understand where they are coming from and had a similar mindset when I was younger, and also pre-therapy. I figured that I have a ton of energy and i should invest that energy into work so I can get a good job and relax later. One thing that I know for certain is there are no certainties in this life.

Working hard is good but it does not need to be your life, especially when you are young. You do not know if you will have money in the future. Heck, you may be poor, tired, old, and unhappy (I hope you are not). But you need to realize that the future is not certain and right now is what you need to focus on.

Life is a journey. It is long but you need to enjoy it along the way. My anxiety comes from living in the future, always thinking about the “what ifs” and never taking time to relax because “what if I don’t have money in 1 year? What if I can’t find a job? I need to start looking even though I graduate in 10 months.” I spend all of my time worrying about the “what ifs” that I don’t relax and enjoy the ride.

Relaxation is essential because it causes your body to cool down. Take time off of work. Use those vacation days and go somewhere you’ve never been. Do it while you can, while you’re young because we have “potentially” only one chance to do this thing called “life” right and I don’t want to be working all of the time, that’s for sure. Relax wherever you go and make sure to really appreciate what is going on at that moment.

Relaxation also means to get off of your phones and social media. We are addicted to distractions and this might just be the biggest distraction we have in the present moment. My therapist said that her clients were stressed out due to social media. They were constantly being bombarded with bad news as well as feelings of inadequacy. Get rid of it, get off it, and go relax! I am doing just that and you should be too.

I want to eave you guys with my current situation. This vacation is something anyone can do and all you need to do is take time off and go and do it. Here is a picture taken yesterday. I hope you enjoy.

Image

Grad School Stress: How to Relieve it?

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I wouldn’t write this blog unless I was in a stressful situation. I have quite a few things going on in my life so I thought I would share what I do to reduce the stress and become way more productive. Stress can cause all forms of problems, so reducing it is key to a happier and healthier life.

In grad school, you are going to experience moments of extremes stress. The end of the year, for example, is always a very stressful time. Creating good habits to manage that stress can allow you to be able to combat the stressful situation when the time comes. Today, I want to bring up the 16 different methods that I use to relieve stress during grad school.

If you are in grad school, lease take the time to invest in a great stress reliever. It will save you so much frustration and keep you going for the long haul. Trust me when I say, having one of these or all of these in your stress reduction tool belt is essential to survive nd thrive in academia. So, let us get into the list of stress relievers for grad school.

grad school stress

Here’s a list of things you can do to relieve grad school stress

exercise to relieve grad school stress

1. Exercise at the gym.

This is my go to when it comes to relieving stress. Honestly, just working out with some loud music and heavy weights is the perfect way to put yourself in a great mood. It pumps up your endorphins and puts you in a fantastic mood. Get moving guys! I know you might not have time but you can always make time!

meditation to reduce grad school stress

2.Meditate

Meditation doesn’t have to be an hour long event. When you start feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed in grad school, take a 5 to 10 minute break and just breath. Stay off your phone unless you using a mediation app or YouTube meditation sessions. 10 minutes is all it takes and you will immediately see a difference. I do this quite often and it has helped manage the stress and my blood pressure lol.

3.Put on classical music or Lo-fi music

When you have a deadline to hit, you need to focus. Nothing beats the power of classical or Lo-fi music to help you out. I love Heavy Rain Lofi. Here is a link to YouTube where you can explore those channels. For some odd reason (probably backed by science), this music just keeps you calm and reduces stress a ton. Try it out and see if it works for you.

less caffeine

4.Drink less caffeine.

Here me out on this one. Yes, caffeine is amazing but it will drive up your anxiety like no other. The amount fo stress you will feel when caffeinated is way more than you would feel with little caffeine. I am not saying to completely cut it out of your diet. Well, if you can, that’s great. I am saying that in high stress times, try and limit the amount or be mindful of the amount that you are drinking. If you normally drink a cup or two of coffee, limit yourself to only that. Any more might cause your stress to sky rocket.

5. Read an article with something happy in it.

Sometimes when I am stressed, I get cranky. I look at life in a negative manner and don’t really see any joy. One weirrd way of reducing stress for me at least is to read an article with something joyful and happy. News articles are always so negative and being stressed at the same time can lead to a badddddd day/week. Try and read an article from a website like HappyNews.com.

6. Follow my breathe.

If you really don’t have enough time to meditate, just try following the breathe for a bit. It is a similar practice to meditation and will definitely calm you down. Take a deep breath in, hold it for 4 seconds, then slowly breath out. Do this a few time and you’ll be slightly less stressed than before. This works well with anxiety as well.

7. Remind yourself that “This too will pass”

Stressful times come and go. It is often very hard to know when the stress in grad school will pass. Just know that it will and remind yourself that it will pass. Stress is a temporary condition that will inevitably pass on it’s own or when something is complete. Remind yourself to hold off until then and this bad time will subside.

8. Watch the scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams and Matt Damon are at the park.

Kind of a weird thing but when I am stressed, I like to watch comforting scenes from movies. I like to completely remove myself from whatever situation I am in and feel comforted in something that is not grad school. I love the movie Good Will Hunting, so I watch scenes from the movie. This often really helps to ground me and not get overwhelmed with stressful thoughts.

9. Watch Good Will Hunting if I have the time lol

I know people that watch whole movies to reduce stress. They are so overwhelmed with things that it makes them freeze almost and they can’t do anything. If you can afford to, and not on a strict deadline, watch a movie. Stay off your phone and just immerse yourself in whatever movie it is. Of course, my go to is Good Will Hunting. Man, it’s just so good.

10. Remind yourself to look for the learning experience or the good that comes from the stressful situation.

Every stressful situation is a way to learn. Make the stressful situation a positive learning experience and you will see that the stress tends to be reduced. Look at all experiences that are difficult a way to learn a new skill or just learn how to manage stress or what methods work.

11.Call up someone to just talk to.

I find that friends and family are great stress outlets. Don’t do this all of the time though. It will help when you are not constantly going to them for stress relief. Call up a friend or relative and just explain to them that you’re stress and need either advice or just someone to talk to. For a brief moment in your life, focus on talking to them and removing yourself from the stress. If you are stuck on something, maybe they will have answers. If nothing else, at least you got to build a good relationship with them by staying in contact!

12. Go on frequent, short, walks

This is my all-time favorite thing to do when I am stressed. I walk so much that I found walking challenges to do just to encourage me to walk even more lol. I also like medals. If you want to know more about the walking challenges, here’s a link to that page. Anyway, going on walks is a magnificent way to reduce grad school stress. It is similar to exercising but you don’t have to push yourself too hard. You can even meditate while walking or focus on your breathe. Both of those things I do. Plus, you get your steps in lol.

13. Pushups

Don’t have time to go on walks, meditate, breath, or anything else? Just do 10 pushups. Go ahead, do them in the office or lab. They are easy to do, you get more exercise, and you will notice that you won’t have time to be stressed while trying to focus on not dying lol. Push ups are a quick and easy way to just reduce a bit of stress that you might feel during the day. Try it out and see if it helps.

14. Get plenty of sleep

I think that most of the stress we feel comes from being overworked and overwhelmed with the ideas of work. This can often be amplified by sleep deprivation. Yes, you want to relax at night and watch TV. Next thing you know, it’s 12 am and you have to get to class in 8 hours. That leaves you with probably less than 8 hours of sleep. Get to bed earlier. Just try it for a few days and you will see that your stress gets reduced and you will work more efficiently. Instead of being at the lab until 9, you’ll get to leave at 6. There will be much less stress.

15. Cook Something or bake something

This one can be helpful and a bit dangerous. If you are so stressed, take the time to bake some comfort food. Make cookies, a cake, anything. Bring some for your lab mates too. They are stressed and need some love as well. Try and not do this all of the time. Many stressed people often resort to stress cooking and then stress eating. It is a vicious cycle that you don’t want to get stuck in. I added this because it is a great way to remove yourself from a stressful situation and relieve that grad school stress.

16. Stop Thinking, Start Doing

The hardest and most stressful part about anything is thinking about it and all of the work that needs to be done to get it finished. This can make things so stressful and even more so when you find out that you have less time to accomplish it because you spent all that time thinking about it. To tackle the stress, you must tackle the stressor. If you have a presentation to make, do it! Focus on getting it done and stop thinking about it. The quicker you finsih it, the less stressed you will be.

Final Thoughts

This was a pretty long list of things to relieve stress in grad school, but I know you can find something in there that will help you. Let me know what you do to reduce stress. I would love to add more to this list. As always, I hope you guys have an amazing and stress free day. I will see you all in the next one. Peace.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Financial Stress in Grad School

This post about financial stress in grad school may contain affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

So you want to go to grad school or you are already there. That’s amazing and I hope that you have an amazing journey! If you are in grad school currently, you know what being poor and overworked is like. If you are preparing for grad school, be prepared. Financial stress is a major part of grad school and can be slightly overwhelming at times. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have enough to eat and drink, but not really enough for other things.

Money is quite tight for me currently, mostly because I was forced to move into a new place that is way more expensive than what I currently am in. Since everyone is coming back in person to school, they are filling up all of the cheaper places that allow pets, so I was stuck with the more expensive option.

I have always been fairly good with money. I have enough saved up to be able to afford my new place with some modifications of course. I’ll share a list of things I am doing to save money as well as not have the financial stress and anxiety that comes with grad school finances. Below are a list of things that help me save some money while in grad school and I truly think thy can help you too.

You will experience financial stress in grad school. It will happen but you don’t have to experience the negative impacts quite as severe. With a bit of practice, you can thrive in this money deprived life and even be able to save up some money to do fun things. Follow the 8 tips below and you’ll be on your way.

Things I do to combat financial stress in grad school

1) I am shopping at Walmart now.

I used to shop at Publix but they are quite expensive. You can get the same food at a cheaper price from Walmart, so I shop there now.

2) I do not go to Starbucks or buy coffee from anywhere.

I make my own coffee, see my coffee blog. People spend as much on a cup of coffee as I do on a whole bag of coffee grounds. They do have good coffee though.

3) I gave up spending money on vending machine food.

This is self explanatory.

4) I walk to my office, or take a bus.

You will most likely be paying for a form of transportation to and from school. Take full advantage of that because gas is getting expensive.

5) I DON’T BUY THINGS ON AMAZON THAT I DON’T NEED.

This has taken so much strength to do but I think I am finally free from the Amazon addiction. I was buying everything on there and would have a package almost every other day. This led to more anxiety surprisingly. I quit buying things and I have saved a ton of money and my anxiety is not as bad.

6) Cook your own food.

I think cooking is one of the coolest things you can learn. Creating dishes that are healthy, delicious, and good looking is quite a talent. In fact, I was on a competition team that won third place in 2011. I love to cook and I have saved so much money by cooking at home. You may spend like $8 at chipotle when you can literally make the same meal for like $3 at home.

7) I don’t drink alcohol as much.

I still go to bars with friends but I order soda or iced tea. This reduces my spending significantly and doesn’t make me want to go out and get pizza afterwards and spend even more money lol. Plus, alcohol is one of my anxiety triggers, so staying clear of it is beneficial for me.

8) I build my own stuff.

This one is a hit or miss because prices for wood and other materials are going to outer space. I also found out that something I made was about half the price online than I spend on supplies. But, I am sure there’s stuff around the house you can use to build something you need. I use old rugs to make scratching posts for my cat. I also wood carve and make figurines that are cool so I don’t jump online to buy things to make my room look fancier.

Final Thoughts

These are the things I do on a regular basis to reduce my spending because grad school is expensive. Life is expensive. I hope you consider trying some of this stuff out as well as adding some trick of your own in the comment section. I love learning clever ways of saving money. Thank you for reading my blog!

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

How to Make Friends in Grad School

“How the heck does everyone around me have a million friends?” I see it all of the time in school. Literally pods of students all together, seemingly having a great time with their friends. In undergrad, I wanted that so much. In grad school, I just want to be able to talk with a few people, not a whole group. But how are these people making so many friends? That, I cannot answer, but I can give tips on how to make really great friends, something I will cherish way more than having a bunch of people that you aren’t that close with.

It has taken me about three years to establish a really good friends group. It mostly consists of max five people, but they are all people that I genuinely like and know on a deeper level. Grad school can be extremely tough to make friends. If you are a PhD candidate, like me, it can me almost impossible since you will spend a great amount of time alone. But with a little persistence and some courage, I guarantee that you will find friends.

Ways on how to make friends in grad school

1. Join a sports league

Sports clubs are super easy to join and frankly you don’t have to put that much effort into it. Sports leagues/intermural leagues are a great way to make friends. There are millions of sports leagues at school. You can find everything from kickball to baseball, to even Quidditch. I am currently on a kickball team with people that are my age, drinking, and having fun. We go to get drinks after games each week and they have even invited me to parties.

2. Get a part-time job

This is a bit tricky in grad school because your adviser may say it breaches contract or you may not graduate on time. Luckily for me, my adviser doesn’t care unless it’s between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. As I have stated, I am a personal trainer so my hours of work are later. Jobs are great because you will spend a ton of time with people, mostly students in a college town, but also some older people too. Some of my closest friends that I have are from a job I had in undergrad.

3. Meetup.com

I don’t have a lot of experience using this but I know people that swear by it. This one takes a bit of courage because you may be meeting a ton of people for the first time and that can cause a great amount of anxiety. Heck, my anxiety is the reason I don’t use this. Meetup does a great job of bringing people with similar interests together, and honestly, that’s what you want in friends.

4. Blog

Blogging can introduce you to so many people in the world. I have just started but I can definitely see how I can make a ton of friends with what I am doing. The interactions that I have with people are just truly amazing and I think this is a fantastic way to make friends. You will be surprised how easy it is to meet people while blogging. Most of the time it will be over the internet. But internet buddies are cool too.

5. Having a roommate

This one may require some luck if you have roommate matching. If not, and you can pick your roommate, then this is way easier to make a friend. I have friends all over the world that used to live with me that I call friends. By being forced to live with someone, you see how they actually are, all the time. You develop a deeper relationship with the person and that can be a good or bad thing lol. I have had some amazing roommates that are close friends. But be warned…friends might not always make good roommates!!!

6. Make Friends with your office mates

You will most likely spend a ton of time with people that share your office. This is a great opportunity to make really good friends. You will most likely be able to bond over how bad and hard rad school is. You will also get to know them much better because they are around you all of the time. I have made some great friendships with people that have shared my office with me.

7. Get involved in clubs.

Clubs are a great way to meet like minded individuals that want to do something fun. In college, you will literally have 300+ clubs on campus. There is a club for any interest that you have. Grad students also have their own clubs too. This makes it pretty easy to meet other grad students and make lasting friendships with them. I highly recommend joining clubs or just attending at least one or two of their meetings.

8. Go to events held at your apartments

If you live in an apartment, you probably have noticed a ton of fliers around to do activities in your complex. Go to these events! At my apartment, we have events every week. This is a great opportunity to make friends and possibly win some prizes as well. I go to bingo night and they give gift cards, so it’s definitely a good time lol.

Final Thoughts

Anyway, this was a short list of ways on how to make friends in grad school. It’s hard, but with a bit of work and luck, you can have amazing relationships with people. Let me know how you make friends or if you want to be my friend! Making friends while in grad school is a great opportunity to reduce stress, have fun, and make the whole experience a bit better. Grad school is hard, having friends to cope with the struggles makes it way better. I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next blog.

How to Deal With Failure in Grad School

I want to start off this blog telling you that I do not believe that there is such thing as failure when you have tried to do something. True failure in grad school comes from not even trying in the first place due to fear of not getting the result you want. People that tell you that they failed an exam, failed a marriage, failed really anything are not actually failing. Ok sorry to be redundant with all of the “failures” lol.

So why did I name this blog “How to Deal With Failure in Grad School”? It’s because most people would rather see that than something like “How I deal With Finding Out a Different Way of Doing Something Because the Results Did Not Turn Out the Way I Planned”. It’s a mouth full isn’t it?

dealing with failure in grad school

You Have to Learn from Failure in Grad School

So let me tell you how I go about dealing with a situation that I was not expecting, or one that I did not like. I simply learn something from it. I have gone through a ton of therapy and have listened to a ridiculous amount of Buddhist talks to change my way of looking at “failures”. They are all learning experiences which means that they aren’t failures at all. Sure, you may have failed an exam, but you learned that the method of studying that you did wasn’t right. Sure, your marriage didn’t go as planned, but you learned that you were not in the right relationship.

Sure, I failed an experiment and managed to spill leaded water all over the place, probably causing me to ingest the same concentrations of lead that were found in Flint, Michigan’s water, but I learned that I need to be more careful when it comes to things like that.

The fact of the matter is you need to learn something from each “failure” that you have. If you haven’t at least learned one thing, than that could be called a failure as well. Listen, grad school will make you feel like everything that you do is a failure. Sure, your experiments didn’t go as planned, but if you pay attention, you would have learned how the experiment didn’t go as planned. You learned what not to do and you won’t make that mistake again. See how you can use each failure in grad school as a learning experience?

failure in grad school

You Have to Try

The only true failure in grad school is when you just don’t try. I tell people all of the time to just try and do something even though they “know for a fact that it will go bad”. The future is completely uncertain and you never know what will happen. I see how my thoughts stop me from even trying something, but I will force myself to do it, and then it turns out it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Many people are just too afraid of the failure process so they don’t even attempt to do what they are so worried they will fail at it. You know what every expert ever did? They failed more than they succeeded. They failed so much until they eventually got it right. They might have been afraid to fail but they went about trying anyway.

One thing that I hear all of the time is “what if I get it wrong?” This is especially true when dealing with grad courses. People are afraid to try new things because they might not get it right the first time. That is true failure. Just not trying because you “know you will fail.” This mindset causes all sorts of problems later and it creates a ton of anxiety, trust me.

As I have touch upon in my blog about doing things that scare you (link here), just trying something, even if its scary, will help you succeed. You will get to a point where failing doesn’t affect you. You’ll be numb to that awkward feeling after failing. But, you have to try it, even if it’s scary.

Overall

By changing your mindset, and I believe this is a major part of cognitive behavioral therapy, you will see that failures do not exist. You you happen to screw up pretty badly, learn at least one thing from it. If you embarrass yourself and call that a failure, laugh about it and make it into a funny memory. Life is way too short to not take risks and worry about failure. Luckily, I am learning a great deal about not being afraid to fail in grad school. I have been told “no” so many times and I have messed up more times than not, and you know what? I learn something each time and I continue on. It is an experience to grow from these experiences. It’s a long process, but my God, it is life changing.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with failure in grad school is hard, I get it. It is, however, essential. The things you are working on and will be working on might be brand new in this world. You might be working on some novel idea that may change history. You think you’ll get everything perfect? Probably not lol. See, the mistakes are where you learn the most and those mistakes might not even be mistakes. I find that when I mess up, something cool comes from it. Changing your mindset about what a failure is is a great way to overcome the fear of it.

I hope you guys understand what I am trying to get across. Don’t be afraid to fail in grad school. Embrace the suck and realize that each “failure” is a great opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. I promise you that changing your mindset about failure in grad school will drastically improve the way you go about experiments and research. Don’t be afraid to fail. I hope you all have a wonderful day and week. Let me know how failure has helped you out and made you a better person. Peace!

Why Everyone Needs Therapy

As you may have guessed, I suffer from a few different mental issues that are only worsened by my graduate studies. I have learned to cope with these feeling and have completely accepted that they are a part of who I am. I have come to peace with my anxiety and depression and have learned to live and THRIVE, mostly because I went to see a therapist. Let me stat off by saying that, yes.!!!, even you can benefit from therapy. You do not need to have anxious thoughts, or depression, or any mental illness whatsoever to benefit from seeing a therapist. Therapy is for everyone to help find methods to handle the struggles in life. There may be some crazy issues that you may face in the future, and therapy prepares you for those battles.

Luckily, my insurance covers the cost of using the app Talkspace or Online-Therapy. I was so nervous to see a therapist because I truly thought something was desperately wrong with me and therapy couldn’t help out. Boy was I wrong. My therapist was a professional in the field of anxiety as well as, I believe, family therapy. She had been a therapist for like 30 years, so she has dealt with everything. It did take me a few weeks to feel confident enough to truly open up to her.

About 3 months ago, she told me that she only needed to see me once a month because I was a totally different person than when I started. Being told that made me feel 1000 times happier than being accepted into a doctorate program. I have been able to cope with my emotions and feelings ever since. It truly is an amazing feeling.

Everyone should at least see a therapist once in their life. It is a scary thing to go see someone and truly open up to them but I can assure you that it is worth it. Talkspace was a good start and they were relatively cheap. Therapy is a great way of helping you get through every day struggles that you may have, or it might just be the boost and support to allow you to start that new chapter in your life. It allows you to address your fears and emotions and find ways to live with those things as well as use them as tools to progress in life.

Covid has led to a ton of people seeking therapy and that is amazing. People are understanding that something is wrong and want to correct that before it controls their lives. Isolation and loneliness were two big topics brought up by my therapist during the early stages of the pandemic. This really affected people and still does. You should never feel alone. You can be alone but should not feel lonely.

I hope the people that are on the fence about therapy go and see one. It truly was one of the best decisions of my life. In fact, this blog that I have created would not have been started without the help of my therapist. I hope you have an amazing day and I hope this blog was inciteful. Let me know if you go to therapy or someone you know does and how they feel about it.

Grad School: Hurricanes and Deadlines

Ah, Florida summers! They are filled with pool parties, late summer outings, fun with friends, and lots and lots of time to relax…unless you are in grad school. I am not saying we don’t have fun. Heck, I have a ton of fun until I am given a task that involves me shifting into overdrive to get it finished. This is the case right now. On top of the crazy deadline that I am creating for myself, we have a category 1 hurricane that is about to hit us in the next 12 hours!!! Tonight is going to be fun.

In a previous post, I talked about what to do when everything seems to just go down the drain. This is one of those cases for me and I know everyone has experienced some form of this. I am in a pickle because I need to finish a proposal prior to vacation, pack up all of my stuff because I am moving to a new apartment, and do my qualifying exam all really, really soon. Oh yeah and there’s a hurricane lol This is causing a ton of anxiety but, like the man in my story that I shared, I am looking for the “honey”.

I am not looking for any form of pity though. I want you guys to know that everyone experiences really tough situations and it is ok to vent every once in a while. We all fight battles and take stressful situations differently. This is why it is so important to be kind to one another. I have really been practicing showing kindness towards those that I come in contact with. I listen to what they have to say, because sometimes that is what they need to overcome their struggles. My struggles are very much different than yours, but it does not mean that my life is harder than yours. You may be dealing with some really tough, mental problems, or physical ones that are weighing you down. I want you to know that there are people that will help you and show you kindness. I am trying to become one of those people.

Hopefully the hurricane isn’t too crazy so I can do work on my proposal. I will be stuck inside most of the day so I can hang with my cat, Sirius. I tend to think of him as the “honey” that I am looking out for in my tough situations. For those that are experiencing this storm too, stay safe! For those reading this blog in a different state/country, stay kind! I love you all and know that you are amazing. Good Night!

Writing Your Literature Review

I think one of the most stressful portions of grad school is writing academic papers. You want perfection when all you hear from everyone is “just get it done, it doesn’t have to be perfect.” I hated hearing this because I wanted all of my papers to be perfect., but what even is perfection? That may be another blog post to be honest. This post is about writing a literature review and going in for publication.

I submitted my manuscript to a journal in May, I believe (this year has been weird and my days and months are out of whack). We received comments in June and resubmitted three weeks later. I am waiting to hear back from the editor to see if I will be a published author or not. Hopefully I am.

This blog is about the process of writing such a monster of a paper. I believe I had 65-70 pages at the very end. Probably 30 of those pages were references though. I counted over 200 references when I was finished. Yes, it was a beast and very scary, but you can totally do it and have fun while skimming through articles for hours. Here’s a list of how I went about writing my lit review.

Blank paper with pen and coffee cup on wood table

Ways to make the best Literature Review

1. Create a skeleton

You need a basic outline of what you want to include and where sections will go. Remember, literature reviews are trying to bring as much knowledge about a subject into one paper. It needs to have flow and tell a scientific story. What I mean by this is you want to tell the reader why your future research will be important due to a lack of knowledge in the field you are working on. Also, you want the reader engaged since this is a very long chapter of your dissertation. Having an outline will keep the paper organized, it will help you find specific papers to use, and it will make it engaging to the reader.

2. Just write and don’t go for perfection at first

It is much easier to just write than to think about writing. Writing a literature review is just about getting the words on paper. I often put off writing because I think that I can just do it later when I have motivation. I then spend hours or days thinking about the writing I have to do and it’s torture. Don’t do this, just write. This paper is long and you will need to put in time. It’s way easier to write a little everyday than to cram it in last minute and hope that it makes sense. Plus, your first draft will most likely suck. You will re-write sections multiple times and never be satisfied, but at least you wrote something. My first draft was absolute garbage, not going to lie. My adviser worked with me and we managed to turn something that belonged in a landfill into something that (hopefully) belongs in a journal.

3. Read, read, read

When you have all of your sections outlined, you need to start reading a ton of articles. I mean….A TON! I read about everything from lead poising in children, to quantum entanglement. My research deals with lead so how I ended up reading about quantum physics, I don’t know. But seriously, read as much as you can, and if you can, write a summary of the paper. That will help later on when you are looking for stuff to place in your lit review.

Opened Book on Tree Root

4. Be kind to yourself

Some days I would write1500 words in the span of a few hours. Other days, I would only write 200. This is normal!!! Push yourself to do the best you can but be kind to yourself when you don’t hit the crazy goals that you set for yourself. I promise you that you will finish.

5. Have your adviser review prior to submitting

My adviser had to review my paper since this was my very first manuscript to go in for publication. He added sections, subtracted sections, and rewrote quite a bit. After his revisions, it was time to go in for initial publication.

When submitting to a journal, it is extremely wise to determine if the journal you want to submit to will actually take you paper. I did a ton of research and found a decent one to send my review paper to. I went online and they have a few websites where you can upload your paper and it will give you recommendations on what journals to submit to. This is what I did and it worked fairly well. Once you find the journal, go on their web page and read everything about that journal. Make sure it has a good impact factor since you want more people to see your manuscript as well as cite it in their papers. These factors will help you get noticed and are great CV boosters. Once you submit, sit back and wait. Usually for literature reviews, you’ll get comments back a bit later. The reviewers usually go through the whole paper and read almost every citation you put in. Mine did at least.

Photo Of Person Using Black Laptop

6. Read the comments and reply

My comments were not terrible. The worst part was writing the literature review to be honest. I have heard of people reading the comments from their paper and immediately crying because the reviewers just ripped them apart. This probably won’t happen to you, though. So, read the comments, let them sort of digest and then tackle them head first. I would say a vast majority of the comments were dealing with grammatical errors and addition of some more references. If you do get crazy comments, talk with your adviser about how to address those specifically. Sometimes you may have to just fight the reviewer to keep what you have in the paper.

7. Send the comments back and wait.

This is where I am at in the process. I constantly check the journal website for any hope, but I know I need to be patient. I will update all of you when I find out the outcome. It should be any day.

Final Thoughts

Writing a literature review can be a daunting task but it doen’t have to be. Just follow the above steps and you will be fine. I promise you that. Good luck with your lit review and I hope this somewhat helped. Peace for now

Writing and Publishing a Literature Review: Grad School Stress

I think one of the most stressful portions of grad school is writing academic papers. You want perfection when all you hear from everyone is “just get it done, it doesn’t have to be perfect.” I hated hearing this because I wanted all of my papers to be perfect., but what even is perfection? That may be another blog post to be honest. This post is about writing a literature review and going in for publication.

I submitted my manuscript to a journal in May, I believe (this year has been weird and my days and months are out of whack). We received comments in June and resubmitted three weeks later. I am waiting to hear back from the editor to see if I will be a published author or not. Hopefully I am.

This blog is about the process of writing such a monster of a paper. I believe I had 65-70 pages at the very end. Probably 30 of those pages were references though. I counted over 200 references when I was finished. Yes, it was a beast and very scary, but you can totally do it and have fun while skimming through articles for hours. Here’s a list of how I went about writing my lit review.

  1. Create a skeleton

You need a basic outline of what you want to include and where sections will go. Remember, literature reviews are trying to bring as much knowledge about a subject into one paper. It needs to have flow and tell a scientific story. What I mean by this is you want to tell the reader why your future research will be important due to a lack of knowledge in the field you are working on. Also, you want the reader engaged since this is a very long chapter of your dissertation. Having an outline will keep the paper organized, it will help you find specific papers to use, and it will make it engaging to the reader.

2. Just write and don’t go for perfection at first

It is much easier to just write than to think about writing. I often put off writing because I think that I can just do it later when I have motivation. I then spend hours or days thinking about the writing I have to do and it’s torture. Don’t do this, just write. This paper is long and you will need to put in time. It’s way easier to write a little everyday than to cram it in last minute and hope that it makes sense. Plus, your first draft will most likely suck. You will re-write sections multiple times and never be satisfied, but at least you wrote something. My first draft was absolute garbage, not going to lie. My adviser worked with me and we managed to turn something that belonged in a landfill into something that (hopefully) belongs in a journal.

3. Read, read, read

When you have all of your sections outlined, you need to start reading a ton of articles. I mean….A TON! I read about everything from lead poising in children, to quantum entanglement. My research deals with lead so how I ended up reading about quantum physics, I don’t know. But seriously, read as much as you can, and if you can, write a summary of the paper. That will help later on when you are looking for stuff to place in your lit review.

4. Be kind to yourself

Some days I would write1500 words in the span of a few hours. Other days, I would only write 200. This is normal!!! Push yourself to do the best you can but be kind to yourself when you don’t hit the crazy goals that you set for yourself. I promise you that you will finish.

5. Have your adviser review prior to submitting

My adviser had to review my paper since this was my very first manuscript to go in for publication. He added sections, subtracted sections, and rewrote quite a bit. After his revisions, it was time to go in for initial publication.

When submitting to a journal, it is extremely wise to determine if the journal you want to submit to will actually take you paper. I did a ton of research and found a decent one to send my review paper to. I will have another blog if/when it gets published. I went online and they have a few websites where you can upload your paper and it will give you recommendations on what journals to submit to. This is what I did and it worked fairly well. Once you find the journal, go on their web page and read everything about that journal. Make sure it has a good impact factor since you want more people to see your manuscript as well as cite it in their papers. These factors will help you get noticed and are great CV boosters. Once you submit, sit back and wait. Usually for literature reviews, you’ll get comments back a bit later. The reviewers usually go through the whole paper and read almost every citation you put in. Mine did at least.

6. Read the comments and reply

My comments were not terrible. I have heard of people reading the comments from their paper and immediately crying because the reviewers just ripped them apart. This probably won’t happen to you, though. So, read the comments, let them sort of digest and then tackle them head first. I would say a vast majority of the comments were dealing with grammatical errors and addition of some more references. If you do get crazy comments, talk with your adviser about how to address those specifically. Sometimes you may have to just fight the reviewer to keep what you have in the paper.

7. Send the comments back and wait.

This is where I am at in the process. I constantly check the journal website for any hope, but I know I need to be patient. I will update all of you when I find out the outcome. It should be any day.

Good luck with your lit review and I hope this somewhat helped. Peace for now

How To Handle Anxiety in Grad School

This post about anxiety in grad school may contain affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

I used to have to see a therapist because my anxiety was getting way too bad. Fortunately, my health insurance covered the use of Talkspace for no additional cost, and I took full advantage of that. Another great site to use in Online-Therapy. I highly recommend either Talkspace or Online-Therapy. My therapist was so helpful and really changed the way that I look at anxiety. She told me that there are a few things that you should always do when having a panic attack, and I would like to share these with you guys. These are 5 methods that have helped me deal with anxiety.

5 Ways to Handle Your Anxiety in Grad School

I am not a therapist but I did go to therapy for a year because my anxiety was too much to bare in grad school. I would have trouble concentrating,. Also, I would essentially worry about everything and it was affecting my work in a negative way. Talkin g with many of my grad school friends, I found that anxiety pretty much affects everyone in grad school. This and imposter syndrome are two really negative things that you’ll probably face while trying to complete your master’s or PhD. Today, I want to go over some helpful ways in which I was able to handle my anxiety and move passed it. In fact, my anxiety decreased so much that I don’t need therapy anymore. These methods do work, and, if you are up for the challenge, you should try them out.

1. Give your anxiety a name

My anxiety was called Ang. She told me to do this because it convinces your brain that anxiety is a thing and not just a state of mind. Then you can “stand up” to it like you would a bully. I have used this method a few times, mostly to acknowledge that my anxiety is there. It may seem like a silly exercise, but it truly works.

Giving your anxiety a name almost makes it a tangible thing. You can call it names, put it down, and make it feel less powerful over you. I find this method is a good thing to do if you just feel a tiny bit of anxiety coming on. Sometimes while I am walking to class, I’ll feel a bit of anxiety. I go “Hey Ang, thanks for showing up but I don’t really want to hang out right now.” I would say that about 60% of the time, it goes away. It is a cool method and I am glad my therapist taught me it.

2. Keep exercising no matter what

I walk a ton throughout the day and do my virtual races (see my previous posts). I also go to the gym almost every day. Staying active decreases muscle tension and diverts you from what you are so anxious about. I mean, you can’t really be worrying about something if your doing stadiums lol.

Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and stay energetic. It is also a great way to combat anxiety. Sometimes you are just absolutely drained. Exercise is hard but to do when you are tired but it is essential to combat anxiety. Exercise has been shown to ease depression and anxiety. So keep on exercising people!

3. Meditate and practice mindfulness

This was a major point that my therapist brought up. Train your mind to be able to cope with things and to be able to calm down in situations where you are anxious. This is a daily activity but so beneficial. I try and meditate right after lunch each day, using my Headspace app. I have seen such a reduction in the severity of my panic attacks and anxious moments. Even last week I prevented a huge panic attack because of meditation. I will have another blog post going over methods to do this so hold on a bit 🙂

Here’s a great book if you are interested https:/amzn.to/3vSo8HR

4. Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Anxiety in Grad School.

Look this bad boy up on the computer RIGHT NOW! This has saved my life multiple times and I am such a genuine person now because of it. This method focuses on changing cognitive distortions and behaviors by challenging your thoughts. There are so many YouTube videos on this so I won’t get into too much detail, but just know that it works but it takes time. Remember that this is a marathon, not a race.

According to the Clinical Guideline for treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy is “is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.” They also emphasize that the science is there and this method works.

5. Be kind to yourself

I think this may be the most important thing that you could ever possibly do. We have some really unrealistic expectations of ourselves and beat ourselves up if we don’t meet those expectations. My grad school marathon has been just that and I was miserable. I found that being kind to myself, laughing when I mess up, and being kind to others has helped me become less anxious and happier.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many methods you can try. I hope that at least one works out for you. Remember, if you have questions about this, message me. I would absolutely love to talk about it. Don’t just deal with anxiety, learn to live harmoniously with it.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

WHERE TO START?????

So grad school is God awful!!! when it comes to mental health. I actually had to see a therapist for about a year, but Ill go into that later. Let’s start off with how I ended up going about this mental health journey. So, about 5 years ago, I had a major panic attack that was brought on by pre-workout. Now if you have had preworkout before, you know how strong that stuff is. I was taking it to boost my performance in the gym. I absolutely love working out and being fit, well… this was what I thought would help me achieve those goals. WRONG!!!! I had a huge panic attack and suffered from depression for like 6 months after, all trying to finish my undergrad degree in environmental engineering. It was tough and I really had no clue what to do, but I kept going. Fast forward to 2019. I started my doctoral program and was suffering from anxiety. I am a worrier. My mom constantly tells me this and it is true. Well, in grad school, mental health is a major concern and I didn’t really heed all of the warnings. I got to a point where what occurred in 2016, started to happen in 2016. I became super depressed and anxious. That is where a wonderful journey started, one where I would find out who I was, what I wanted from life, and how to find happiness, even in the darkest of times. 

Why I started a Blog

So you might be wondering, “Ben, you are a scientist, not a writer! Why are you blogging?” I’ll tell you why. I am currently in my last year as a grad student and writing has become such an important part of my day that I almost consider myself a writer and not a scientist. I have written paper after paper, hoping to get at least one published. By creating a blog, I am able to hone my writing skills and, hopefully, better convey the science that I am doing.

Writing has been such a great outlet for me as well. I am able to express my emotions through writing and it has helped me significantly drive back anxiety and depression. I put on coffee shop music, sit down, and just write whatever is on my mind. Sometimes, I write scholarly articles/manuscripts. Other times, I just write gibberish and hope that no one sees it. Either way, It has helped to make me feel accomplished as well as helped to keep my attention on something (my attention span is garbage). I have just begun my journey and I hope this leads into something greater. Even if I suck at it, at least I will be proud that I started.

“Dude, sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something”-Jake the Dog

Last one for the night.

I feel like a good place to begin is how I stumbled upon the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. I honestly cannot remember why I was looking for Buddhist teachings, but man was this one of the best things for me. Ajahn Brahm is an amazing monk who has extremely powerful stories that teach kindness, compassion, love, and everything in between. I was probably trying to find videos on how to reduce anxiety to be honest, and found his videos on how to reduce anxiety and live life to the fullest. He has been such an influence in most things that I do and how I think about issues. I am a much more optimistic person now that I follow his teachings. I will post a link below to one of his videos. I’ll write more about how he has helped during grad school as well as other videos that I find extremely helpful. 


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtq3BQ8da9s&ab_channel=BuddhistSocietyofWesternAustralia