New Kid on the Block

I’m in grad school.

It’s kind of weird for me to say that because it still feels new to me.  I’ve been in the Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program at OHSU for just little over a month, and there are so many things I want to share: moving to a new city, my first rotation, being back in class after a two year hiatus… I’ll spare you from most of it for now.

I imagine my first month in Portland has been similar to the initial response a mouse experiences in the open field arena.  You know, novel environment, isolation from cage mates, and all that.  There’s a fear of danger but a desire to explore the unknown.  I’ve already learned a lot from my initial exposure to grad school though.  For example, homesickness can hit you hard no matter how short the time away.  Cry, call home, do what you need to, but remember to appreciate that you have a home worth missing.  Or on a more practical note, with the recent power outage on campus, I’ve learned class material—like what to do in the case of missing data—can quickly become relevant during your rotation.  (I mourn your loss, missing circadian activity data.) And of course there’s the scientific research, the reason I’m here.

When offered an opportunity to write for StudentSpeak about my graduate experience, my interest was immediately piqued.  I like writing; I even minored in English as an undergrad.  Plus, it seemed like a great way to record this crazy new adventure I’ve begun.  Truthfully though, I hesitated because I knew I was in for a tough journey—one that I am sure will be filled with difficulties and failures I won’t want to share.  See, grad school has this reputation of being an unrelenting bully.  Five, six, seven years of stress, self-doubt, failed experiments, etc.  It’s easy for me to be nervous.  But like mentors and friends have done for me, I want others considering a graduate education and those pursuing a career in science to know it’s not a crazy idea.  It’s difficult for sure, but doable. Right now I have this opportunity to learn exactly what I want and discover new ideas.  It’s a sweet deal.

Maybe I’m too excited to care about the challenges ahead.  I do know I’m ready for this.

So grad school, bring it.

A little humor courtesy of “Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham

2 responses to “New Kid on the Block

  1. Great first post, Eileen! You accurately captured the the excitement and fear of a first year student. There’s such a mix! You get pumped about an idea, a project, but then right as you get comfortable with a technique, you switch labs! Then you have the “privilege” to be completely clueless and feel lost all over again. You have a great attitude. Good luck!

  2. What a wonderful post, describing the insecurity and excitement of beginning grad school. The first year is the hardest- after that I expect that you will be comfortable doing your own science in ways you could not have imagined a year ago. Welcome to Graduate School!

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