Spring Break, Grad Student Style

If you would have asked me a year ago what my plans for spring break were I would have given you the location of a great beach, warm weather, and no textbooks in sight.  However, after successfully finishing two quarters of PhD core classes, my definitions of fun are significantly warped.  I had two very different parts to my spring break; I spent the majority of the week working on my creep tests, and a small portion traveling visiting my undergrad institution.

The big highlight of SB09 was going to visit my alma mater.  It felt wonderful to go back down to southwestern Ohio and pretend to be an undergrad, go out with my sorority sisters, and visit my old professors.  Driving into town felt so familiar and comfortable, and walking into the engineering building felt coming home.  My boyfriend even remarked about the differences between my two-year-old undergrad engineering building and the 1950’s engineering building where I now spend all of my time.  It was amazing to sit on High Street in the sunshine and eat my favorite bagel, and to continuously run into people I had spent years of my life getting to know.

But, as much as I loved returning to the place I called my home for four years, I was too much of a grad student to fully enjoy it.  I used to be able to enjoy being with my sisters and friends, not dwelling on my advanced mechanics homework or upcoming machine and tool design project.  Instead, I couldn’t mute the voice in the back of my head reminding me of all the things I needed to accomplish when I returned to Columbus.  Watching my sorority sisters interact made me realize that as much as I hated it, I had moved on from undergrad and become one of those harried looking, sleep deprived grad students.

So here I sit, reflecting on what the rest of my spring break was like.  Instead of wondering what time I was going to meet my friends and sorority sisters at our favorite bar, I spent my spring break enjoying an empty building.  While this might seem boring, it is amazing how much more efficiently you work in a deserted academic building.  I finally appreciate that sleeping in now means rolling into the office at 9:30 am, and a good week means not having to drink as much coffee.  Unfortunately, growing up is inevitable.  But I’m working on translating my definition of fun, and enjoying the small perks of being an engineering PhD student.


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