Most of you are undergraduates, and since you're on this site I'm going to guess that "College" and "School" mean two drastically different things. Sometime within the next 4-12 years, you're going to be faced with a decision. You can either go into the "real world" and get what we like to call a "job" which would provide you with "money," or you can stay in the world of Academia, safely sheltered high above this supposedly real world in a glorious ivory tower.
This series should provide those of you considering this second option with some idea of what may lie in store for you. Those of you who wish to abandon the academic world that has nurtured and groomed your ungrateful ass may at least glean an insight into your TA's thought process.
So here's your first lesson: In grad school, break means NOTHING. It's January 18th, Spring session doesn't start for 2 weeks, I'm not taking any Winter session classes, and I've been back at school for over two weeks. As far as your advisor is concerned, classes are just an obstacle that interferes with your thesis. Thus, during periods when you have no classes, you should actually be working the HARDEST.
We aren't alone here, however. International students don't go home for break either. Which leads me to one of my favorite grad school games: Count the Asians.
While all the undergrads are at home watching tv with mom and dad and coming up with lies about how hard they partied over break, keep track of how many Asian students you see on your way to school, on your way to lunch, and on your way to sell plasma for food. Make it a competition with the rest of your lab, comparing your daily "Asian Index."
For extra nerdy fun, try correlating your daily AI with other measurements to look for statistically significant relationships. Plot the daily AI against the Dow Jones Industrial Index or the daily average temperatures. Come summer, the correlation between Asian sightings and the daily pollen count will blow your mind!
Oh, geeze, it's time to go raid the dumpster behind the Panera, or as we call it in grad school, grocery shopping. On that note, next week we'll take a look at the average grad school diet and how it differs from fat and happy undergraduate's daily fare.
So enjoy your beer pong while you can, your GRE's are just around the corner!