I have had many views on the relationship between graduate school and my life. It keeps changing and currently, I think I have understood its relevance. On arrival, I was bursting to share knowledge and answer every question. I read a lot and did my homework, but graduate school demands more. It is a place for collaboration and discovery.
Working as a team is appealing when there’s camaraderie and excitement. On the other hand, when one gets saddled with tough situations and cannot communicate their thoughts it becomes a team tempest at the worst and silent torture at best. The beauty of team work that is handled properly results in discovery of self and purpose. Self-discovery refines our intended goals and final goals. It opens up a plethora of available opportunities. One could have come to school for a degree as the next step and realize that working on new topics with new people leads to a new path. Self-discovery in collaboration is many times humbling because when two or three people spot an unhealthy habit or an attitude in you at different times, it sinks in that there is more to be done in improving one’s lifestyle.
There is a boundless freedom and a constant limiting fear of “what’s my thesis going to be about?”. The freedom to choose one’s path leads to the question - how? Watching the days break and dawn, sometimes slowly and faster makes the situation awkward. Does the answer lie in one or many? Are there still solutions to be discovered? Are our topics good enough? The answers lie in the word collaboration again. Working and relating with groups of purposeful people translates to building up, in order to dive deep in search of human problems. These problems make up the problem statements and then we progress to finding our unique solutions. Collaboration also means working with people long gone by reading up their books and publications. I have found out from my history classes that my thoughts and ideas were once in existence. That discovery felt crushing and comforting at the same time.
The paradoxes of graduate school are showing me what a great system I am in. A system that finds a way to cater to a variety of interests in an evolving practice of excellence. The depth holds our roots as we climb out with one way to make life better and easier for maybe one or two groups of persons in this or a future lifetime by leaving behind rigorous proven positive publications.
Patricia is a Ph.D. student in the College of Architecture