Forever a Student: You’re Not Alone

After being at university (undergrad, masters, PhD studies) for almost nine years I get this question a lot: Are you still at school? Won’t you grow up and get a job?

I’m 100 per cent sure I’m not alone in this.

My dad always says that people who stay in school for a long time seem like Peter Pan and never want grow up.

Well, here we are: all Peter Pans struggling to handle multiple activities at the same time. Some of us have family, children, work, volunteer activities, sports, teacher/research assistant duties and, at the end of the day, we all TRY to have a “normal” life.

It is very important to make some effort to meet friends, catch up on Netflix, watch a movie, exercise, read a book or most important: dedicate some time to yourself – even if this means doing nothing (my favourite hobby).

No matter what you do or which field you’re in, make sure you know that you’re a winner just to be here, you’re part of a very small population in the world (i.e.: the PhD population is no higher than 3.5 per cent in every country in the world). So, you’re amazing.

Now, the one-billion dollar question is: How to be a grad student and still have a life? Unfortunately, I’m not the right person to answer this question, I’m still in the learning process too. I give you advice that I have heard, and I think a very useful tidbit is: “Enjoy grad life!” Apparently this is one of the best moments of our lives, and the good news is that the GSA can help you a lot with this! Check out our events and discounted tickets to find something fun to do or look into our volunteer opportunities where you can network, learn and be engaged in your community.

One last tip: NEVER, I mean NEVER ask a grad student:

  1. How is your thesis going?
  2. When are you finishing?
  3. What are you doing after grad school?

I hope in the future we can laugh together about this and I emphasize that YOU’RE NOT ALONE, we are all in this together!

Marcela Lopes

PhD Student Civil Engineering Department

GSA VP External, 2018-2019