Things I’ve learned in my first month as a grad student

It’s been almost a month now since I moved to Virginia and classes began. Starting grad school is a huge transition for almost everybody, so I’ve written down some of the things I’ve learned in the past few weeks.

Don’t panic. The fact is, when you first get here, everything is overwhelming. Everything. Classes, this giant building we study, work, and practically live in, meeting new people all the time, and trying to be in the right place at the right time on the right day of the week. There are a ton of assignments to think about, a ton of things to do and get involved in, and just in general a ton of things to take in. Take a deep breath.

Your professors genuinely want you to succeed. We’ve left undergrad behind, no one wants to trick you into getting the answers wrong on the test anymore. Every one of us was picked to be here by whichever faculty are in your area, and every one of us is wanted here.

We really like food here. Seriously. The SOE likes to feed us at most big events, and the cafe in the building has really good food. And just in case those two things aren’t enough, we have kitchens on the first and third floors, so you can bring food with you from home. Oh, and if all else fails, there are a lot of vending machines around here.

If you need help with something, just ask. The faculty, staff, and in general everyone here are really helpful, and if someone can help you out with something, they most likely will. There’s a sense of community in the SOE that makes for a great learning and working environment.

So remember: don’t panic, everyone is wanted here, eat the food, get help if you need it. I think if you can keep those things in mind, you might survive grad school with some small part of your sanity intact.