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Social life in grad school - meh...

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Old 21st September 2016, 12:19 PM   #1
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Social life in grad school - meh...

I am about to start a Masters in Diplomacy next week, but I also work at one part-time job in NGO sector and have a government internship (also part-time) on the side. I love, love, love both of these jobs, especially the NGO one - the atmosphere there is great, colleagues are very nice, and I get a strong sense of personal fulfillment out of that job. The networking opportunities in the 2nd job are great too - now I work in the exact same institution where I'd like to work after grad school.

In this context, I started to dislike the idea of the usual student life (and extracurriculars). I feel like the whole thing is so disconnected from the real world and real's like kids playing! We have a Wine Society, a student govt, Bar Committee, Student Ball committee - and I just feel no interest AT ALL in these activities - I get much more out of my jobs than from these committees (more networking, more education on the side - paid by the company, many more new skills, more personal responsibility, etc.), so the extracurriculars just don't interest me at all!

And the semester hasn't even started and the very first activity planned is a pub crawl...?! Even the character of the social life hasn't changed much since college, which is sad for a person like me (not a party type at all, doesn't drink), and honestly, I was expecting something more...sophisticated? Especially considering that the school has a direct link to goverment institutions and politicians, so I was expecting a more serious atmoshpere.

Now, I am seriously considering avoiding these activities, because I feel like in comparison to my two jobs, they cannot offer me anything new or relevant...I have this "been there, done that" feeling, because it was the same during undergrad (societies, committees, student govt...). I love my jobs, and if you agree that one should dedicate her time to her passions, then I'd dedicate all of my spare time left after school to my jobs!

But on the other hand, I don't want to come across as a weirdo, because I will have a 1 hour commute to school, so if I do not participate in these committees or if I do not attend pub crawls and just leave after courses etc., then how would I look like?! But honestly, all I want from that grad school is academic expertise and good education - pub crawls and quasi student government, no thanks.

Has anyone felt this way before? How did you deal with it? How SHOULD I deal with these feelings?
- "When nothing goes right, go left."
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Old 21st September 2016, 12:33 PM   #2
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If you're not interested, you're not interested.

In law school, I was married, had a kid between my first and second years, and had a job. Looking back, everything was a blur and I wouldn't have had the time to engage in all the social stuff even if I was inclined to participate. I don't think anyone else cared what I was doing or not doing.

The one possible downside is that I likely missed out on some networking opportunities. I've done fine nonetheless, and it sounds like you have those opportunities in other venues, so I wouldn't worry too much about that angle. Still, you might be missing out on the opportunity to get to know some interesting people.
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Old 21st September 2016, 4:12 PM   #3
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I was reluctant to get sucked in to the social aspects of my graduate program. I remember thinking it felt like summer camp. I was so adamant about being professional and thinking "I'm not here to party, that's juvenile, I'm here to advance my career."
I'd say though that I ultimately learned and benefited so much from my relationships with my peers in the program. We helped each other through difficult classes, apply for internships, and later, we've all helped each other professionally as well. The friends I made in grad school are my network forever, those are some pretty solid bonds too. I think it's a really important part of a professional program, in terms of networking. I don't regret going to any of those stupid happy hours or tailgates now.
Even on a personal level, the friendships I made helped me grow so much. However my program was pretty small (only 100 or so students) and very specific, so we all felt like we'd finally found other people in life who understood us, the way we think and approach things in life.

Last edited by AMJ; 21st September 2016 at 4:14 PM..
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Old 22nd September 2016, 9:15 AM   #4
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Why do you feel so obligated to be a part of those clubs? Lots of people never join them at all.

The one exception might be student gvmt. though, given your area of studies and your internships it sounds like you are looking into a future in politics, so that is one place where there can be a fair resemblance to the real world.
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Old 23rd September 2016, 9:05 AM   #5
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My boyfriend doesn't bother with any of that stuff, either. It's not for him and he has a million other enriching hobbies, friendships, and pursuits. It's okay!

It's also totally cool to be involved with the extracurriculars if that's your cup of tea.

You have to do YOU and do what makes YOU happy. Life is too short to invest your time in things you're lukewarm about.
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Old 23rd September 2016, 8:29 PM   #6
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I felt EXACTLY as you did when I was in graduate school. I was also in my late twenties and already in a career-mindset, whereas most of my cohort was fresh out of undergraduate school and still hungover.

The way I dealt with it was that I did not join any cliques, go to any parties, gossip, or anything else that demonstrated you were one of 'them.' Instead, I juggled multiple roles and projects beyond the minimum expectation, read a TON, made friends outside of school with people who didn't care at all about what I was studying, and graduated at the top of my class. I was not liked very much by the others.

It bothered me at the time to not have the comradery I had expected of a graduate program, but looking back at it now with where I'm at in my career and where everyone else is at, I am really glad I carved the path that I did. Today I am doing everything I dreamed of doing professionally, while many of them either seem content with an average $40k salary, have switched careers, or outright hate what they do.
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