Category Archives: Woes of Academia

Sitting Outside the Academic Stereotype

Stereotype

I’ve been thinking a lot about race lately–and labels in general. I guess this is partially due to recent US politics, but it’s moving more and more to the forefront of my mind the more years I’m in my PhD program. Continue reading Sitting Outside the Academic Stereotype

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Feeling Crispy: Burnout in (Grad) School

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I’ve said it once (many times, actually) and I’ll say it again: academia can be a really shitty place when it comes to your mental health. Yes, your academic adventures can result in a variety of extremely rewarding experiences–there’s no doubt about that–but when your forced to survive this high-stress environment that expects you to juggle heavy workloads, long hours and high expectations on top of the rest of your adult life… Let’s just say that even the most dedicated students can start succumbing to the pressure.

Continue reading Feeling Crispy: Burnout in (Grad) School

Feeling Stuck in Grad School

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I was warned, even before I started grad school, that there will be at least one point during my five-year PhD where I would get stuck. It might be because a key experiment won’t work for weeks on end or the data I manage to get simply isn’t adding up—whatever it was it would be a very obnoxious rough patch and getting over it definitely wouldn’t be easy. In fact, I might find myself even tempted to quit.

But young, naïve little Krystal kind of just shrugged off the thought. That won’t happen to me, I assured myself. Besides, even if it does, I’ll get over it because I’m doing what I love! That’ll be enough to pull me through, right? I just have to keep the end goal in mind! Right?

…right?

Continue reading Feeling Stuck in Grad School

The Ruse is Up: My Dealings with Imposter Syndrome

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I feel stuck and I don’t know why.

Everything is telling me that I should be having the time of my life.

I’m going to my dream grad school. I’m working in a discipline that I love. I’ve successfully survived my first year. And terms such as “intelligent”, “smart” and “successful” have been used to describe me–to describe my life. I mean, I suppose if I were to look at my CV I could maybe shrug in agreement…

But I don’t feel it.

I don’t see it.

And here I am… Stuck. Anxious. In a rut. And scared that my life has been a horrible mistake. That I don’t really belong here. That I’m an imposter.

Continue reading The Ruse is Up: My Dealings with Imposter Syndrome

The First Generation Struggle

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Art credit: Cindy Luo (Daily Trojan)

There wasn’t any doubt I would go to college one day. Learning was my past time. My passion. The sheer idea that I would someday be able to attend an institution dedicated to acquiring knowledge was like a dream come true. I couldn’t wait! But, honestly, if I was being completely truthful that wasn’t the full reason of why I wanted to go to college. After all, I could see right in front of me just how much more difficult life is for those who don’t have a degree. I didn’t want that life. I wanted something better.
Continue reading The First Generation Struggle

When Grad Students Aren’t Considered Employees

I feel like every other blog post I write starts off with the same theme: grad school is such a weird time in a person’s life. After all, you’re simultaneously trying to make it as an adult (pay bills, start families, etc.), yet are still forced to live the student life of crappy wages, weird work hours and never-ending papers and assignments. However, despite this odd balancing act we grad students find ourselves in, that doesn’t make what we do any less of a job.

Grad students are working adults. We are not interns. We are not volunteers. We work for our respective schools (either through research and/or TA duties) and are paid as such. Sure, we may have a required amount of classes to take, but the point of grad school is to do great research, bring in funding and publish lots of papers. It’s a full-time job. Continue reading When Grad Students Aren’t Considered Employees

Grad Student Guilt: Taking Breaks

Disclaimer: Though this article mainly talks about grad school experiences, this topic is applicable to many different types of people and the advice is applicable to anyone who feels the expectation to be constantly working. 

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Grad school is an interesting beast. You’re neither a student, nor an Adult(TM) and as such, you really get none of the benefits from either category. That is, you don’t have the surplus of free time between classes that you once had in college, nor does work limit itself to 40 hours a week like it tends to do in Adult World. Continue reading Grad Student Guilt: Taking Breaks