February 2019

The last year as a graduate student

One month ago, dramatic changes happened in my view of life because I suddenly realized graduation is coming. In the last semester as a Ph.D. student, I started to appreciate a lot of things that I had taken for granted for a long time. For example, when I presented in our lab meeting, I thought that it might be the last show of my research in that lab. When I went to the gym for group exercises, I thought that there were only three months left to enjoy the exciting learning experience with American coaches. They are far more passionate about sports than physical education instructors in my home country. In Blacksburg, I have my favorite friend, instructor, advisor, doctor, restaurant and even chair in the library. After graduation, I’m going to leave this living environment and put all those lovely people and things into my memory.

Because of these thoughts, I became fully present at each moment. For example, just think about what you would do if it was the last time to meet with a friend. Would you like to know more about that person or to look at your cellphone constantly? If you feel that writing the dissertation is tedious, how would you feel if it was your last month to do research in your life, and to pursue your dream in academia? These thought experiments sound unbelievable, but they remind me this is the last chance to enjoy being a student in the U.S. I stop complaining after seeing the beauty at the last moment.

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2 comments to The last year as a graduate student

  • Maryam Moarefian

    I hope you become a professor here or in your country and enjoy your new place just like how you enjoyed Blacksburg. Your blog made me to think about how we missed a lot of beautiful and enjoyable things in graduate school by being anxious about arriving at distination and complaining. We need to the road before reaching to the distination. Distination is not a purpose, achievements during our journey are our purpose. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Ruoding Shi

      Thank you very much for your kind words! I hope graduate student can appreciate and enjoy their journey much earlier than the last few months before graduation.