What would i do differently in graduate school?
When this question came across my mind, I reviewed quickly my two-year study at Queen’s, and surprisingly found nothing special have to add to my graduate study schedule. This is not because I did very well, or, made the best use of time.
BUT, it simply is because I had tried my best to do as much as I can in two years. As an international student who studied abroad for the first time, adopting communication skills and taking academic workload had taken most of my time. And I have been really grateful to what I had learnt and gained. Today I would like to touch on two aspects of graduate life: socialization and funding.
Socialization is the big part of graduate study, though it is not necessarily connected to
an A in your paper. First I found it was nervous, precarious, and a bit embarrassing to talk to someone you do not know well in classroom, academic conference, volunteering venue, and so forth, because I do not (learn to) talk in an interesting way. “I will bore my interlocutor” always threatens my confidence and easiness.
Then I experienced many, many, nice and quick, conversations with many others in different social occasions. Most of the social activities are flinching, lack of close interaction, deep conversation or value exchange. Often, one or both parties lack the nerve to take a step further away from superficial intercourse. Later, it is even frustrating to maintain connections with someone you happened to have a pleasant experience with. Socialization is contingent. However, to wield the maximum power of it, managing these connections you have built up through socializing occasions is even more essential.
During my graduate life, I did put initiative in socializing with others. I was largely benefited to walk out of my comfort zone and talked to strangers. In this way, I improved my language proficiency, knew the culture and obtained information. My progress was not significant. It took me 3 years to speak fluently in front of a bunch of strangers. Nevertheless, a crack in confidence can easily result in the collapse of fluency. If I started my graduate life again, I might as well participate in social events as much as I can in order to overcome timidity and learn effective communication.
Funding is another issue in graduate life. As many would know, funding resources for international graduate students are scarce, compared to domestic students. However, there are some off-campus sources (that I did not explore during school) that also wel-
come applications from international students, such as Mitac and government funding. Students who apply for competitive fundings such as OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarship) should receive instruction and training from faculty in order to furnish one’s materials. I was regretted that I did not put much effort on preparing my application in my first year. I would probably spend more time in discovering and managing funding applications if I had the opportunity again.
It is not just fun to take time machine. Reflecting on the past offers lessons that are able to steer pragmatic routes through life. Though time is not reversible, there are always chances to make better decisions.