To juggle all of the feelings that come with being a graduate student, I often seek out advice from other people. Over the years, I have been told a lot of great advice:
“When you don’t have to be serious, be goofy. Laugh. Make fun of yourself”
“Don’t take life so seriously.”
“Take advantage of everything in school.”
“Don’t focus so much on your academics, that you forget about your personal life.”
If you know me, you know I repeat some of those often. But the best piece of advice I ever got was from my dad. A couple of years ago, I asked my dad about life. He is in his late seventies, served in a war and lived through some of the best and historical decades. But when I asked him if he had any regrets in life, he told me he did. He said when he looks in the mirror he doesn’t recognize the old man standing in front of it. He went on to say, his body is falling apart, but he still feels like a 16-year-old boy. When I asked him what this all means to him (he hates that I am psychology major) he said, he lived every day working to get ahead and forgot to do things for himself, especially travel. He encouraged, actually no, he pleaded with me to travel. Travel around the world as often as you can. Live in another state or another city before you look old in the mirror.
Well, I’ve lived in four cities, moved several times and travel as much as I can. Even though I am graduate student, I am still traveling. One of the first things I looked up after I accepted Texas A&M University’s was study abroad opportunities. Not knowing what I would find or be able to pull off, I discovered that TAMU offers week long fall, spring and summer study abroad opportunities all around the world. Before I even moved down to Texas, I applied for the spring semester thinking “I could make this work.” Well it is spring, and I am making it work. I leave for Europe tomorrow for 10 days where I will be exploring Paris, Amsterdam and London! Bucket list.
Even though I am a first-year graduate student, the opportunities are still there. I am not going to lie, its extra work, an added class, planning and stress but it is worth it (or so I hope. Check back after spring break). Just because we are graduate students doesn’t mean we should live and die by our books and class work. My advisors were excited I took advantage of this opportunity and worked with my schedule to make everything work. I am prepared to die when I come back, but I caught the travel bug.
Jenna is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Psychology