Learning Gratitude In Graduate School

Learning Gratitude In Graduate School

Last month, hundreds, upon thousands, upon millions of students went back to school. Although not quite as adorably as my 5th grade neighbor decked out in her first-day-of-school finest, I, too, returned to the world of academia. Starting my second year of graduate school, I was not even a little surprised when on the first day of classes, my peers and I couldn’t even get through the first class without bitching.

OF COURSE, we got screwed over on our class locations, and now don’t have time between classes to fill up our water bottles and go to the bathroom. OF COURSE, the professor didn’t open the online learning site until the night before. OF COURSE, the bookstore ran out of the books we needed. And OF COURSE, it was raining.

Looking back on this year’s first day as opposed to so many others I’ve had before, I’m struck by my, and many of my peer’s, overwhelming lack of excitement. There was no excited showing off of our new shoes, or describing the summer we just had, or comparing whose folder was the most sturdy, but also really cool-looking. The bureaucratic rigamarole has totally and completely jaded us into thinking of graduate school as a tedious endeavor, rather than a privilege.

But in reality, that’s what it is. It is a privilege to have our biggest problems be navigating the institutional hurdles, or to make an extra trip to the bookstore or, *GASP*, to not be able to fill up our water bottles before class. It is a privilege that most of the world will never be able to take advantage of. And often, I lose sight of that.

I lose sight of the unbelievable luxury it is to be able to have almost TWO YEARS of my post-college life reserved just for academic pursuits, when so many of my 20-something counterparts are slaving away at entry level jobs, for more hours than is legally allowed. I forget that this is something I worked for, that I applied for and had to be chosen for.

My Rosh Hashanah resolution last year was to appreciate my graduate school experience, and take advantage of all it had to offer. And I failed. And as I am in a two-year program, I am fortunate to have a second chance at success. I hope that in the coming 10 months, I remember each and every day, through all of the difficult lectures, monotonous group meetings and stressful final paper- writing, that I am a member of a select, indescribably lucky group of people who are devoting their time, energy and efforts to their education.

I vow to appreciate my professor’s hard work, and understand that they too are people, and may not always know exactly what they’re doing. And I promise, that while I probably won’t stop the complaining, I will always remind myself, that these are the best kind of complaints to have, and I will try to get over it.

I hope that the other jaded, cynical and tired graduate students out there find solace in knowing that I feel your pain. But I also hope that at the start of both of the new years, we resolve to be more grateful and appreciative students, and people.

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