Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Being a graduate student is a bit surreal. I could be a grandmother in a rural town, with my fifteen year old daughter recovering from giving birth at the same age I gave birth to her. I could also be behind a desk in a small, yellow, government office in Mexico City. Tired of diluted morning Nescafe and the usual knots to undo the simple burocratic procedures of, for instance, getting a drivers license. I could be walking 2 miles to get seeds from the Millennium Village Projects in Western Kenya. Instead, I'm a graduate student that walks on 77th everyday, to get to a castle-looking museum, climb in a freight elevator suited for dinosaur fossils and end up in the 9th floor that overlooks the fantastic outline of New York City and its Central Park. There I do the usual, PCRs with blue latex gloves, cafeteria lunches under maple trees, coffee breaks on a wooden bench, agarose gels to check if my PCRs worked. I'm close to ending that routine, at least in that museum. My heart is pressed with stress from coming deadlines and as I stuff my daily calendar I think again of what its like to be a graduate student instead of someone, something else. I don't feel sadness, regret or frustration. Its hard for me to ever feel that. I don't have to attend to a 15yr old daughter, only two cats that are fattening a little from their indoor life. I list that daily routine and think of the advantages of the graduate student life. I wake up when I want to and I choose the city that suits me most, at least for now.
My students don't really depend on me, at least not in the maternal figure of a real advisor, and my only classes are the greek lessons I may take this fall. I'm free to read books, think, plan my nights, simply make sure I attend the Wednesday lab meetings in a timely fashion. It's not so bad. Soon I will move to be a postdoctoral fellow, which is the next step in the academic tree, and my graduate feeling will be behind. I wonder what I'll feel like then.


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