Saturday, 26 November 2011

The day I realized this blog was supposed to be about grad school, or why breaks shouldn't be more stressful than work

I realize that I was all like “This blog is about me being a grad student and I’m going to impart wisdom on all you people who have never been grad students on what grad student life is like!” And then my first two posts didn’t mention grad school at all. But I think that’s okay. Because although I am a grad student, I’m also nine thousand other things and I think part of my point in developing this blog in the first place was to demonstrate that the academic world is not completely separate from the “real world.” Grad students have a unique set of problems to deal with, sure, and also a unique set of awesome experiences, and I will share those with you in due time. But we also have parents and shitty apartments and regular un-nerdy moments. This divide that’s been created between the university and the so-called real world totally bums me out.

Seriously, though, is anyone going to actually tell me I currently do not live in the real world? Seriously? Because I would like to know where exactly that means I do live. Lala land, probably. But so what? I mean, as long as there's coffee and beer, what do I care? And vodka. And cheese. And pad thai.

Anyway, so here's a grad school story. Today I decided to take a break from my first term paper of my grad school career (ahhhhhhh!) and start my PhD applications! Yay! (Maybe I don't live in the real world. I think people in the real world a) leave their apartment and interact with other people on Saturdays b) don't work on Saturdays and c) take breaks that involve, you know, break-y stuff. See? I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT REAL PEOPLE DO ON BREAKS. I think I'm contributing to the myth of the divide between the university and the real world now... Crap.) Anyway, I decided to start with my application to the PhD program in the same department at the same school that I'm already in, since I figured that would be easy. I mean, not only have I already successfully completed an application to this department in this school already, but this school also already has all my information so in theory this should be a simple task. But the questions on these applications! Ugh!

For example, one question asks if I have applied for any external funding for next year, such as OGS SSHRC CGS Doctoral Other Scholarship/Sponsorship (i.e., CONACYT, etc.). Ummm...holy acronyms, Batman! I know I applied for OGS and SSHRC, so those are definitely two separate things, but did I apply for SSHRC or SSHRC CGS or SSHRC CGS Doctoral or SSHRC CGS Doctoral Other or or or I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE OFFICIAL NAME IS OR WHAT HALF THOSE THINGS STAND FOR. Especially CONACYT. I'm almost 100% sure I didn't apply for that.

Then it asks me if I "meet the requirement" of passing either a full university course in a language other than English or a reading examination in a language other than English by the final year of my PhD. Uh...well...presumably I will by the end of my PhD? Is "to be determined" an option? No? Damn it.

Conclusion: Universities need to start hiring people from the real world to create these applications. No one but a person with a doctorate could manage to ask simple questions in such an indirect, complex way.

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