In Graduate School You Will…

The entrance to Tisch library, the main library of Tufts University. Wikimedia
The entrance to Tisch library, the main library of Tufts University.
Wikimedia

Feel Stressed: There will be a million things to do.

Feel Bored: There will literally be nothing to do.

Live on the Undergraduate Residence Campus: You will be too unorganized and lazy to figure out an alternative living situation. You’ll live on the fifth floor of the freshman wellness dorm with ten other grad students. You’ll only meet one other girl on your floor the entire 5 months you spend there. She will have the same name as you and one time borrow your scissors. The whole dorm will be infested with mice in the winter. You will find mouse poop in your moccasins and freak the fuck out and sleep at your friend’s apartment for three days.

Take Notes: You will get a job taking notes for the Center for Academic Achievement for undergrad classes. You will be excited that your great note-taking skills and quirky handwriting will finally pay off.  You will realize you only make $24 a week and be less excited. You will sit in a Nutrition class twice a week and watch freshman give PowerPoints on dietary supplements. You will write things in the margins of the notes—you’ll draw an arrow to the date and write “Friday! Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!” You will write “Beer before liquor, never been sicker!” on the day the class is learning about alcohol consumption.

Keep Odd Hours: Your only classes meet Monday and Tuesday at 3:30 and 6:30, so on those days you will stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning and sleep until 10 or 11. In the morning, you will wake up and look at the clock and be shocked, for some reason. You’ll say “What’s wrong with me?” to your stuffed animal and then watch episodes of, like, House Hunters online in bed until noon.

Feel Overwhelmed by Very Small Tasks: Your days will be so unstructured that when you finally have something to do in addition to reading and writing, it’ll feel like the biggest event ever. On a day when you don’t have class, you’ll decide to finally go to the post office to buy stamps. You will plan your entire day around this errand. When something else comes up—a Professor asks you to meet with them that day instead of the next, as planned—you will panic silently. You will be able to do this. Believe in yourself! You will be able to run your 15 minute errand and make it to your meeting, 4 hours later, on time and prepared.

Find Weird Things Really Funny: You will hang out with friends from class and make jokes about interrupting a hegemonic discourse and queering the space. You will leave each other Facebook comments like “I’m totes gonna queer this EZ-Mac right now ROFL.” You will discuss hypotheticals—what if we did an interpretive dance for our final presentations? What if we didn’t write this paper because words are arbitrary? You will laugh hysterically about all of these things.

Not Eat Regularly: You will be broke and your stomach will hurt too much to have normal eating patterns. The pants that you couldn’t breathe in when you were eighteen? They’ll be loose on you. Your dad will call and ask what you ate that day. Your mom will send you $40 with a note that says “You are only allowed to spend this on dinner in a nice restaurant. Do not spend this at Forever 21. Please get something with protein! Buying calcium supplements: okay, too. XOXO.” You will become anemic. Sometimes you’ll go to your aunt and uncle’s for dinner and you’ll eat and eat like you haven’t eaten in years. They’ll send you home with leftovers and apples and bottles of Voss and you’ll feel your body thanking you when you eat them the next day.

Feel Smart: Not smarter than anyone else, mind you, but smart in general. You will stare at your computer screen when writing your final papers and feel a headache building as you see the tight knots in theories you’re trying to unwind and the limits they’re restrained in. You will realize that you actually understand some of this stuff and feel ever so slightly proud that you do.

Feel Dumb: Not dumber than anyone else, mind you, but dumb in general. You will constantly wonder if there’s something you’re just not getting when doing your reading. You will become shyer than ever about talking in class. You will have no original or interesting comments to make in class discussions and write down all the things your classmates say.

Become Overly Emotional: You will read Barthes’s “Camera Lucida” for one of your classes and actually go “mmmmm” while you read. You will stand in front of a Rothko at the MFA on a random Tuesday and feel your heart collapse inside of your chest. You will stand outside South Station with your best friend from college and your eyes will well up with tears when she tells you about the confidence she’s gained in her artwork.

Hate the Red Sox and Love the Yankees: You will live a few blocks away from Fenway. You will see a tubby fellow walking down Longwood Avenue one day wearing a Jeter jersey and Yankees hat and you will want to hug the shit outta him. You will not do this. You’re from New York; you know not to hug strangers!

Not Do Laundry Often: You will never have quarters. You will live five flights above the washing machines. One day you’ll lug your hamper down the five flights and realize you forgot the detergent. You’ll walk back upstairs and then back downstairs and realize you forgot quarters. You’ll walk up again, and then back down again, and then realize you are one quarter short. You will say fuck it! and leave your things in the laundry room, go back upstairs, and not come down again for three or maybe four hours.

Realize You Are Religious: You will finally understand that feminism is not unlike a religion in the sense that it consumes and shapes all of your views. You will be unable to evaluate your life and your friends and your relationships and the strangers around you without placing them within this context. You will want to grab strangers on the street and ask if they’ve heard the good word. You’ll want to yell corporeal prayer.

Be Absurdly Broke: You will turn down an invite to get drinks with a friend because you just don’t want to pay T fare. You will steal an economy size roll of toilet paper from the bathroom in your dorm because you don’t want to buy tissues.

Have Some Real Good Times: You will find $100 in the pocket of a pair of jeans in a consignment shop. You will decide to buy clothes from the store with it, and discover that everything you want to buy is 70% off. You will visit the museum where your aunt works and she’ll let you touch the objects. You will go to bars with your cousin and talk about your silly fun family. You’ll go to Cambridge with your friend and browse at the Coop and drink Pimm’s at dinner and go home feeling so lucky to have her in your life. You’ll go to a concert with your college friends in Brighton and their faces will all be painted and you’ll all be drunk and dancing and you’ll feel good.

Feel Like Everything is Beginning: You will talk on the phone with your friends scattered across the country. They all have real jobs or are starting grad school or are in serious relationships or are off on some grand adventure. Everyone will sound happy and you’ll remember the history you’ve had with these people and realize how you never knew that one day you’d be sitting on this bench wearing this coat in this city talking to them and you’ll realize that you have absolutely no idea what will happen next. You will not be worried. TC mark

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