by Diana Davis
One question I have considered since becoming a graduate student is the decision whether to be what I would term a “college student” or a “real adult.” For my first year in grad school, I was a “college student”: I lived in the graduate student dorm (a single room with a shared kitchen and bathroom), my friends were all math grad students or undergrads, and my activities were confined to campus, except for a few weekend trips. This was very similar to my undergraduate experience at Williams. In my second year, I became a “real adult”: I moved off-campus, made several groups of friends who were not Brown students, and spent a significant amount of time doing things (mostly running) off campus.
I have found that many graduate students expect all of their friends to be graduate students. A few days ago I was talking to a fellow grad student, who joined a new church and was disappointed to find that there were no other grad students there. She was hoping that she would find a community of grad students at church, but she found only families and undergrads. That was the conversation that led me to write this post: I would encourage other grad students to branch out of the university and be open to making friends who are not grad students.
I run a lot, and in some ways it would be nice if I could find another grad student to be my favorite running partner, but I haven’t found one. My best running partners last year were undergrads, but then they both graduated. This year, I run with a group of male undergrads at Brown, and a couple of running groups outside of Brown. I spend a lot of time with the math grad students, but I feel that I have a fuller life since I have made friends in the wider community.
Does anyone else have experience with this kind of situation? Please feel free to add your thoughts.