Wow! As of this evening, I am officially finished with my first year of grad school as a PhD student. Looking back over this past year, it's easy to see where I messed up or could have done better (yay, perfectionist tendencies). So, let's go over what I learned, both from the good and the weird.
1. Grad school is hard
Yes, I'm aware that this is kind of obvious. Did I know what I was getting into jumping straight from a bachelors to a PhD? Not really. I thought I would be prepared for the work load since I had double majored, but it's a whole different ballgame. The first thing that threw me was that I only had 2-3 academic classes plus seminars. I was used to taking 7-8 as an undergrad and being constantly busy while I was at school. Now, I go to class for a couple hours, and then there is "free" time, in which you can do professional development events, work on the lovely homework sets, and, best of all, research the stuff you actually care about! As a grad student, it is so important to actually manage your time to get your schoolwork and research done even if you don't have set hours or meetings on campus.
2. A support system is imperative
This kind of goes along with the first point. As a new grad student, you're in that awkward position of being both a student and a professional. The older students and faculty have been instrumental in helping me survive this first year without going absolutely crazy.
3. Grad school is awesome
Where else do you get a bunch of students all together who actually want to be in school and are completely excited about all sorts of topics? It's great to be able to "nerd out" with my fellow students and have them actually understand what I'm talking about, or even better, teach me something new.
Anyway, that's all for now. Have a fantastic summer! I'm going to be eyeball deep in research, which is exactly where I want to be.