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Getting Older in Grad School: Adapting Successfully

            Hip Hip Hooray, it is my 12th  birthday in academics. I never consciously counted them until one of my friends asked me the other day how long I have been a student for. With my 30th birthday coming up, I realize, however, that the years I have celebrated my birthday while being a student are starting to add up. I don’t mind getting older, I am actually quite proud of the fact that I have a streak of grey hair now, but it does make me reflect on how different it is to be a student at 22 than at 30. Whereas I could easily pull off having a drink at night and finishing my readings afterwards, I now need to be mindful that my brain functions best in the morning, and that I am pretty rubbish after 5PM. 

            30 is by no stretch old, and many of my graduate student colleagues are older than me. Yet, it is important to stand still with the changes we experience in our body and mental state with the age we reach. We are so often emerged in our graduate work that we do not reflect on how life goes on around us. Nonetheless, getting older is a natural process, and one that can affect how we do our graduate work. As such, it may be helpful to take a moment and stand still with how you are doing things and see if you could benefit from making some changes. What can help you do this is keeping a diary, noting when you are more productive and when there are times in the day that do not work well. 

            Aside from keeping a diary, Queen’s also offers graduate students resources to reflect on their time management and to take breaks. Student Academic Success Services, for example, allows students to meet with an advisor either online or in-person to discuss time management. If you identify as a woman, Ban Righ also has student advisors who can assist with academic goals and daily planning. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to an advisor, you can also ask some colleagues if they want to go for a drink at the Grad Club and ask them how they are doing things. 

            No matter what you end up doing, the most important thing to remind yourself of is that we all get older. Through time, we gain new experiences and face new hurdles. Although these may be unpleasant at the time, time allows us to grow and adapt. For now, however, I will order myself some almond croissants – another great benefit of it being my birthday! 

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