Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ode to Patrick, or, Why You Need Grad Student Friends

One of the complaints I hear from graduate students is that it is difficult to make good friends in the cohort. I have fortunately not experienced this. Both my MA and PhD programs were pretty much full of awesome people who were both intellectually stimulating and downright fun times. But I can imagine why this problem presents. Some programs are super-small, others are extremely competitive to the point of preventing friendships, and on occasion, some programs might just be full of awkward and/or boring people.

My advice this week is: do whatever you have to do to make grad student friends. In your department, in another department, it doesn't matter. You will need them!

Grad student friends are unique in the following ways. 1) They understand that "finals" might mean crying fits and eating an entire cake by yourself. 2) They know that graduate student work isn't 9 to 5. 3) They will check out books for you when your interlibrary loan account gets shut down.

They will also save your sorry grad student behind when catastrophe strikes.

EXAMPLE FROM REAL LIFE: Sometimes, your boiler breaks. And it is cold. And you don't have hot water or heat. And it is going to take the plumbers approximately a week to fix it. This is when you need a grad student friend to let you stay in their house for 7 days, let you eat all their spaghetti and tomato sauce, and drive you from their house to campus, all the while insisting that no, you aren't inconveniencing them and no, they can't imagine anything better than watching Family Guy with you late into the night for many, many nights in a row. (Thanks, Patrick.)

All kinds of friends are great. But only a grad student friend is going to have enough pasta to support two grown adults for over a week.

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