Free time as a first year grad student?

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

AO
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Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby AO » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:24 am

For those of you who are currently grad students, how much free time did you have as a first year graduate student? I'm hoping to play club baseball next year and would like to contact the coach, but the time commitment is considerable, something on the order of practice 3 days a week for 3-4 hours plus games for a month or two on the weekends. I played as an undergrad and found it to be doable in addition to work doing research, thesis, school and a girlfriend. It wasn't always easy, but it gave me a way to get out my aggression physically.

Is this ridiculous or not?

-J

meggo
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby meggo » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:35 am

Well, I suppose it depends on the department and school, but I had, literally, NO free time my first year. All of my time was spent doing homework, teaching, and sleeping. All of my very scant "free time" was spent seeing my boyfriend every 3 or 4 weekends (he's at another school). If you're on a fellowship and don't have to do research or teaching, then maybe you could swing it, but grad classes are harder than undergrad and problem sets will take a lot of time. And if you *do* have to teach or do research, it will take up more of your time than you think it will.

Basically, I would advise against doing any extracurricular activities that require a moderate to large time commitment during the school year until your quals and classes are over, ESPECIALLY if you have to teach. You'll hate not having a hobby for a while, but over committing is *much* worse.

If you need to do something physical, then I would advise going to the gym, because it's flexible and you can go as often or little as you have time for. Also, summer sports are different. You will probably have time over the summer...just maybe not during the school year.

CKtalon
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby CKtalon » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:54 am

I took only 3 grad classes per semester in my final year of undergrad without teaching duties or much research. It was horrible. I think I spent about 30-40 hours per problem set that were due once every fortnight for 2 classes (QFT2, QM2), and another that took ~15 hours every week (Stat Mech).

Before my final year I was taking 23 credit hours (7 courses) as an undergrad, and I found that my (QFT2, QM2, SM) semester was much tougher.

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twistor
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby twistor » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:10 pm

None whatsoever. If you're getting paid tuition + stipend the school owns you and will work you like a dog.

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grae313
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby grae313 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:17 pm

The first year is the hardest, and it is a real tester. A typical grad schedule is 2 to 3 classes which take around 20 hours per week each if you are good, and TAing or research which takes another 20 hours a week. You'll have time to play baseball in graduate school once you are done with classes and just doing research, but committing yourself to that during the first year is dangerous. Focus on getting through the hardest year of grad school in style and then think about baseball.

admissionprof
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby admissionprof » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:43 pm

Grae is correct. I've never heard of anyone spending that much time during their first year on extracurriculars. An hour a day, perhaps, which is why gyms are so useful. Some are musicians, but a couple of hours rehearsal per week plus the occasional concert is stretching it already.

Famous saying about the first year of grad school in physics:

"Sleep, study, socialize. Pick two".

Sports counts as socializing...

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G01
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby G01 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:02 pm

Current First Year Speaking:

The answer is no. Sorry!

I train in Judo regularly. I'm very into it and it is a big part of my life.

However, during my first semester, I had to cut down my training sessions about once a week (If I was lucky). It would just be impossible to train and practice at a competitive level in any sport during the first year, at least in my experience.

Now that I'm about 3/4 of the way through the first year, things are looking a little better. I have some more time, and on non-exam weeks I've been trying to make it to two Judo workouts. During the summer, I may try for three a week. So, not all is lost.

Just be aware, grad school is about immersion in a field to a degree you've yet to experience. The amount of physics you'll learn will be incredible and very satisfying, but of course, the amount of time you need to devote to your work will increase dramatically as well.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll figure it out.

abeboparebop
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby abeboparebop » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:33 pm

I'd like to add a dissenting opinion. I'm a first year and I end up having quite a bit of free time on a weekly basis. There have been a few when things got hectic and I had to buckle down a bit and lose some sleep, but generally speaking my classes don't take up more than 20-30 hours a week in total, and TAing is another ~15, which leaves me with some free weeknights and almost every weekend.

I am, however, a lazy coasting bastard, so take this as you will. Also, I could see that fitting in multiple three-hour practices during the week might be an intractable problem -- most of my weekdays are pretty well taken up.

EDIT: I should add that my roommate, another first year, is a member of the school orchestra here, which is a pretty serious time commitment -- two three-hour rehearsals a week -- so it's doable. The rehearsals are at night, though, whereas weekday practices (again) could be a problem.

mobytish
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby mobytish » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:40 pm

Looking at these posts, it seems that the take-home message is that you may or may not have free time (most likely not) and that you shouldn't commit to any additional responsibilities until AFTER you settle in and see if you'll actually be able to manage it all. That's my plan anyway.

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YellowXDart
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby YellowXDart » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:41 pm

Wow, I've found this thread pretty enlightening. I knew that grad school is definitely a full time thing, but I thought I'd still have a bit of time for fun as well. I guess this is how they separate the men from the boys.

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notnaps
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby notnaps » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:46 am

I've heard from my "academic mentor" (a prof. at my undergrad uni) that you can pretty much expect to have no life in the first two years of grad school. Just to reinforce what other people are saying..

However, she also told me that after you are done taking a full course load it gets a lot less stressful and you will have some free time.

Ideally I'd like to play trombone in a concert band or orchestra, but I think I'm going to hold off for at least the first semester..

geshi
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby geshi » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:03 am

YellowXDart wrote:Wow, I've found this thread pretty enlightening. I knew that grad school is definitely a full time thing, but I thought I'd still have a bit of time for fun as well. I guess this is how they separate the men from the boys.


According to your profile you are a female. Not sure how you fit into this sexist comment (don't worry, I'd be commenting on this regardless if you were male or female). I find this comment somewhat offensive ...

I have a friend in graduate school right now who said his last 2 quarters (yes, quarter system, not semester) were not that bad. However this quarter he has joined on with a research group. He is continuing to take classes and TA at the same time. This quarter he has NO free time whatsoever. Once he gets to stop TAing, things should clear up for him a bit however. I think the work load in your first year depends on the program. I have also heard from all of my profs from UG that the first year is absolutely brutal. They compare it to junior year in my UG college. Second semester junior year I was working somewhere between 60 to 80 hours a week. I was imagining the first year of grad school to be along those lines (from what my profs said).

P.S. Yes, I am in that minority of males (I guess females too?) who disapprove of the use of male oriented terms of "manhood" as a means of describing ability, strength, or other "classically Western masculine" characteristics.

mobytish
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby mobytish » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:24 am

geshi wrote:
YellowXDart wrote:Wow, I've found this thread pretty enlightening. I knew that grad school is definitely a full time thing, but I thought I'd still have a bit of time for fun as well. I guess this is how they separate the men from the boys.


According to your profile you are a female. Not sure how you fit into this sexist comment (don't worry, I'd be commenting on this regardless if you were male or female). I find this comment somewhat offensive ...

...

P.S. Yes, I am in that minority of males (I guess females too?) who disapprove of the use of male oriented terms of "manhood" as a means of describing ability, strength, or other "classically Western masculine" characteristics.


I think being overly PC is a little ridiculous. First off, I don't see at all how this comment describes anything masculine. Since it's meant to differentiate between inexperienced and mature, masculinity really has nothing to do with it. And, the fact of the matter is that, historically speaking, there are a lot of these terms out there which tend toward the masculine instead of the feminine and being silly about what you have decided should be offensive when the people who are supposed to be finding it offensive (YellowXDart and myself for starters) don't. Why should she be forbidden from saying a very illustrative statement simply because it refers to men instead of women? I hardly think it would have had the same effect if she had said that it separated the girls from the women (and it would have technically been just as offensive by your standards).

http://newsombudsmen.org/columns/standi ... -our-craft

That is a link to an article about one newspaper that was tempted to stop using terms such as "falling on deaf ears" because a deaf person wrote in about being offended by it. In the end, they decided that limiting freedom of speech simply because someone decided it was an offensive comment, when everyone knew that that was not the original intent of the statement, just creates an overly restrictive environment where no one is allowed to say anything. There are certainly statements that were "born" offensive, but other than that, we should not place restrictions on such silly things.

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YellowXDart
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby YellowXDart » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:23 am

Ha, wow, not trying to start a battle here over political correctness. I didn't mean anything offensive by it, and actually I find the phrase to be slightly sexist too but was trying to be ironic. Sometimes my sense of humor (and probably other's as well) doesn't come through in text.

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twistor
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby twistor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:47 pm

geshi wrote:
YellowXDart wrote:Wow, I've found this thread pretty enlightening. I knew that grad school is definitely a full time thing, but I thought I'd still have a bit of time for fun as well. I guess this is how they separate the men from the boys.


According to your profile you are a female. Not sure how you fit into this sexist comment (don't worry, I'd be commenting on this regardless if you were male or female). I find this comment somewhat offensive ...

I have a friend in graduate school right now who said his last 2 quarters (yes, quarter system, not semester) were not that bad. However this quarter he has joined on with a research group. He is continuing to take classes and TA at the same time. This quarter he has NO free time whatsoever. Once he gets to stop TAing, things should clear up for him a bit however. I think the work load in your first year depends on the program. I have also heard from all of my profs from UG that the first year is absolutely brutal. They compare it to junior year in my UG college. Second semester junior year I was working somewhere between 60 to 80 hours a week. I was imagining the first year of grad school to be along those lines (from what my profs said).

P.S. Yes, I am in that minority of males (I guess females too?) who disapprove of the use of male oriented terms of "manhood" as a means of describing ability, strength, or other "classically Western masculine" characteristics.


stfu. Seriously.

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grae313
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby grae313 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:35 pm

geshi wrote:I find this comment somewhat offensive ...


It's a *** expression. Get over it.

geshi
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby geshi » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:39 pm

mobytish wrote:I think being overly PC is a little ridiculous. First off, I don't see at all how this comment describes anything masculine. Since it's meant to differentiate between inexperienced and mature, masculinity really has nothing to do with it. And, the fact of the matter is that, historically speaking, there are a lot of these terms out there which tend toward the masculine instead of the feminine and being silly about what you have decided should be offensive when the people who are supposed to be finding it offensive (YellowXDart and myself for starters) don't. Why should she be forbidden from saying a very illustrative statement simply because it refers to men instead of women? I hardly think it would have had the same effect if she had said that it separated the girls from the women (and it would have technically been just as offensive by your standards).

http://newsombudsmen.org/columns/standi ... -our-craft

That is a link to an article about one newspaper that was tempted to stop using terms such as "falling on deaf ears" because a deaf person wrote in about being offended by it. In the end, they decided that limiting freedom of speech simply because someone decided it was an offensive comment, when everyone knew that that was not the original intent of the statement, just creates an overly restrictive environment where no one is allowed to say anything. There are certainly statements that were "born" offensive, but other than that, we should not place restrictions on such silly things.


Is there a problem with saying, "Separating the children from the adults" instead? If the expression is about experience versus inexperience, why not say, "Separate the newbies from the veterans"? Girls from women is just as offensive to me if that were a pop culture phrase. And no, neither you or YellowXDart are "supposed" to be offended by it. I don't care if you're offended by it or not. I am offended by it. My post was only a comment in regards to the irony of the situation (YellowXDart making the comment and myself being offended). Obviously, I didn't make my intent clear. I am sorry if you don't like me being offended by comments I view as sexist.

The reason it is a term about masculinity is because there is not a equal term in pop culture of the opposite. This expression is indicative of the notion that men are strong. The expression "separate the girls from women" is not a pop culture term. I have only ever heard that phrase used as an expression of irony or in a manner of joking. It is not a pop culture expression used to denote the strength of women. It is bred into the nature of the expressions. For example, saying, "Man up," indicates that men are courageous. I, for one, have never heard, "Woman up." Also the (separating men from boys) expression indicates that men are mature, rational thinkers. This goes along with the phrase, "Keep her finger off the button" with regards to why some people believe women should not be in a position of power or authority (the phrase indicates that women are hotheaded and might mash the "Launch Missile" button if they get mad at something trivial). Yes, if we were talking about the phrase, "Separate the men from the boys," in an individual setting, it would not be sexist (especially if people used the phrase "Separate the women from the girls" in pop culture as well). However you need to look at the larger picture as to why there's something wrong with it. It is a piece of a larger puzzle. Yes, this expression is pretty innocuous. It still creates dichotomy and dualism between the sexes in the larger context of society. I'm not saying you have to think the way I do. This is the way I think. I apologize if you don't like it.

And no, I don't believe in restricting freedom of speech. That's just stupid. People can say whatever they want. However, words, just like actions, have repercussions. I am not being "overly PC." I was commenting that it is offensive to me. How is that "overly PC"? Overly PC is when someone says, "Don't say that, there might be ____ nearby." I didn't say, "Don't say that, there might be women near by." I said that I found it offensive. You can make whatever sexist comments you want. Just don't expect me to not be offended by it.

I was trying to add to the irony of the situation. I wasn't trying to make a grand political statement. Wow, this is seriously OT.

twistor wrote:stfu. Seriously.

I LoL'd.

grae313 wrote:It's a *** expression. Get over it.

Wow, I seem to have pushed a button.

Ryalnos
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby Ryalnos » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:43 pm

I THINK EVERYONE INVOLVED HERE IS CUTE

kroner
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby kroner » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:53 pm

I feel like this shouldn't need to be explained, but the whole point when YellowXDart says it is that whatever baggage the expression carries about traditional ideas of "manhood" is in juxtaposition with the fact that she is a counterexample to those kinds of stereotypes. She will be proving herself to be a "real man", get it? hahahahaha

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twistor
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby twistor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:54 pm

Is there a problem with saying, "Separating the children from the adults" instead?


It is offensive to children.

You can make whatever sexist comments you want.


I'm glad we agree.
Last edited by twistor on Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bibimbop
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby bibimbop » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:55 pm

fact: girls rule, boys drool

mobytish
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby mobytish » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:58 pm

geshi wrote:Is there a problem with saying, "Separating the children from the adults" instead? If the expression is about experience versus inexperience, why not say, "Separate the newbies from the veterans"? Girls from women is just as offensive to me if that were a pop culture phrase. And no, neither you or YellowXDart are "supposed" to be offended by it. I don't care if you're offended by it or not. I am offended by it. My post was only a comment in regards to the irony of the situation (YellowXDart making the comment and myself being offended). Obviously, I didn't make my intent clear. I am sorry if you don't like me being offended by comments I view as sexist.

...
I'm not saying you have to think the way I do. This is the way I think. I apologize if you don't like it.

And no, I don't believe in restricting freedom of speech. That's just stupid. People can say whatever they want. However, words, just like actions, have repercussions. I am not being "overly PC." I was commenting that it is offensive to me. How is that "overly PC"? Overly PC is when someone says, "Don't say that, there might be ____ nearby." I didn't say, "Don't say that, there might be women near by." I said that I found it offensive. You can make whatever sexist comments you want. Just don't expect me to not be offended by it.


I have no problem with you being offended by it (okay, I do, but I can get over it), but what I do have a problem with is that, if you say you're not trying to make others think the way you do about it, that you, for some reason, still felt the need to comment on it being offensive to you in the first place and talk about it like you're trying to convince us to stop using comments like that. As a woman, I'm actually offended by the obsessive restriction of, yes, speech that forbids people from even using the grammatically correct "his" when referring to a person of unknown or undetermined gender (and instead using "his or her"), or using incredibly illustrative statements that serve more of a purpose than the PC version could. The only reason we have to stop saying things like that is not because the phrase/term is, by its very design, offensive, but because someone woke up one day and decided that it was offensive.

And, again, I refer you to the article I posted in my previous comment. As stated in the article, you may not think that this is truly restrictive, but it only starts here.

I'm not trying to tell you your wrong or anything, but I've had this discussion with someone recently (hence having that article on hand) and am, as you can tell, a bit fired up about it.

In an effort not to hijack this thread any longer, I won't comment any more on this issue unless someone asks me a direct question about it, which I'm guessing no one will because I think we've already had enough of thread hijacking for the time being ;).
twistor wrote:
Is there a problem with saying, "Separating the children from the adults" instead?


It is offensive to children.


I'm guessing meant as a joke, but it pretty much sums up my point that just about anything we say can be determined to be offensive by someone :)

kroner
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby kroner » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:59 pm

bibimbop wrote:fact: girls rule, boys drool

oh no you did not

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twistor
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby twistor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:41 pm

kroner wrote:I feel like this shouldn't need to be explained, but the whole point when YellowXDart says it is that whatever baggage the expression carries about traditional ideas of "manhood" is in juxtaposition with the fact that she is a counterexample to those kinds of stereotypes. She will be proving herself to be a "real man", get it? hahahahaha


There are a lot of real offensive things to be offended about. For instance, try reading youtube comments on anything controversial and witness for yourself the prolific ignorance of society. YellowXDart's comment was not one of those offensive statements. Kroner's above comment points out the irony in her post.

If, as a woman, YellowXDart chooses to use verbiage that might be considered by some (read: radical feminists) offensive to (some) women then geshi (a male) has no right to be offended. Bottom line.

He is clearly trying to make a bold statement to women that he feels deeply about femininity on some level. I think some men do this as a way of attempting to connect with members of the opposite sex. I don't think he's actually offended in the way a member of category X would be offended if she'd said "Kill all X and burn their babies!!" Just imagining for a second that I were a woman, once the novelty of my breasts wore off and I were able to pay attention to complete sentences again, if I'd heard that sentence spoken aloud (or saw in print) I'd know exactly what was meant by it and would not be offended. I'd understand that it is figurative speech, not to be taken literally. Think about it.

Geshi is clearly trolling.

geshi
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby geshi » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:06 pm

twistor wrote:He is clearly trying to make a bold statement to women that he feels deeply about femininity on some level. I think some men do this as a way of attempting to connect with members of the opposite sex. I don't think he's actually offended in the way a member of category X would be offended if she'd said "Kill all X and burn their babies!!"


You caught me red handed. Someone please come hold me. I'm so lonely. I just wanted to connect with someone.

llorgehthset
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby llorgehthset » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:08 pm

.
Last edited by llorgehthset on Tue May 25, 2010 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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notnaps
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby notnaps » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:12 pm

geshi wrote:
twistor wrote:He is clearly trying to make a bold statement to women that he feels deeply about femininity on some level. I think some men do this as a way of attempting to connect with members of the opposite sex. I don't think he's actually offended in the way a member of category X would be offended if she'd said "Kill all X and burn their babies!!"


You caught me red handed. Someone please come hold me. I'm so lonely. I just wanted to connect with someone.



GROUP HUG, EVERYONE!! Can't we all just get along??

serali
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby serali » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:19 pm

You are not alone. I completely agree with you. I also think that trying to explain your reasoning here would be a total waste of time - given the above replies to your comments.

llorgehthset
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby llorgehthset » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:19 pm

.
Last edited by llorgehthset on Tue May 25, 2010 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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grae313
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby grae313 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:22 pm

llorgehthset wrote:
bibimbop wrote:fact: girls rule, boys drool


rude


I'm offended that you're offended by that comment.

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grae313
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby grae313 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:23 pm

geshi, I dig you, it's just that I learned to stop caring a long time ago. I would have been depressed and angry my whole life had I not.

Keep fighting the good fight if it pleases you, but this was a silly battle to pick.

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twistor
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby twistor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:01 pm

If you're going to troll, at least do it right.
Last edited by twistor on Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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twistor
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby twistor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:04 pm

geshi wrote:
twistor wrote:He is clearly trying to make a bold statement to women that he feels deeply about femininity on some level. I think some men do this as a way of attempting to connect with members of the opposite sex. I don't think he's actually offended in the way a member of category X would be offended if she'd said "Kill all X and burn their babies!!"


You caught me red handed. Someone please come hold me. I'm so lonely. I just wanted to connect with someone.


Fail.

ddubs
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby ddubs » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:44 pm

Regardless of what was said, her intent was not to offend.

Tell me which is more offensive:

1) A 4 year old child drops the N-bomb.
2) I call someone a boppityboopface, which is my code word for the N-bomb.

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twistor
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby twistor » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:42 pm

The 'N-bomb' is my code word for the N-word.

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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby kroner » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:01 am

Children waging nuclear war offends me the most.

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notnaps
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby notnaps » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:05 am

I love the forum's eminent demise into insanity and flame wars as the admissions season wears on :twisted: !

How does a thread as innocent as this end up as a complete clusterfuck? I understand nemo's thread doing that, but c'mon!

Ryalnos
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby Ryalnos » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:20 am

One could say it's tragic that males have been historically pressured to 'act tough like a man'. How dare you make light of this with your callous reference to 'separating the men from the boys', YellowXDart!

While I respect that thoughtless/careless use of language may affect how we think about and understand the sexes/genders, proper judgment should be used in calling people out on it. Few people like grammar nazi type, after all.

To clarify my previous comment:

http://xkcd.com/470/

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zxcv
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby zxcv » Fri Feb 26, 2010 4:58 am

Old timers here will probably appreciate my choice not to engage in the off-topic discussion ;). For what it's worth, there has been far more offensive stuff said about women on these forums in the past.

I'll also add to my dissent about time commitments and grad school. Grad school is not necessarily that much work particularly if you're a theorist.

If you don't find time to play club basketball now, when will you? If you're still pretending you'll end up as an academic, will you have time when you're a post-doc or a professor? It doesn't get easier to find time, and life is too short not to enjoy it.

The hard part of grad school is psychological, not physical. It's about figuring out how to navigate systems where nobody (not even your adviser) is going to tell you what to do. So make sure you're not going to entirely isolate yourself, but if committing 10 or even 20 hours a week to a sport is what it takes to get you energized and motivated, then I say go for it.

edit note: fixed format glitches
Last edited by zxcv on Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Helio
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby Helio » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:53 am

Other first year here.... so I am RA not a TA, so I cant speak for teaching, but researching is harder and more time consuming than teaching from what I see.

I know people who go rock climbing two-three times a week, I dunno how long but they do. And I have heard that your first year is supposed to be the year you have "fun." I doubt that 12+ hours a week are feasible esp with classes. I took 3 classes my first semester (the standard is 2, but US immigration requires me to take 3) and it drained me a lot and am taking another 3 now. I can barely keep up with the reading at the moment (that is mostly because i am behind due to the qual), but at the end of the day I just want to get home and pass out.

Just my 2 cents.

nathan12343
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby nathan12343 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:28 am

I guess it depends on how hardcore your classes are. My classes tend to be relatively low-pressure and most people don't spend a huge amount of time on them (~10 hrs per week). Research tends to take up a huge chunck of my day, maybe 30-40 hrs per week. TAing is another 5 -10 hours per week depending on how much grading I have to do. Also, at least at my school, talks, seminars, and coffee discussions can easily eat up 5-7 hours per week. All in all, I'm busy, but I still have time, especially on the weekends. Once I'm done TAing things will be better. YMMV.

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dopemasterE
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby dopemasterE » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:25 am

Do not interrupt the flame war.

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grae313
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby grae313 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:47 am

dopemasterE, I hope you registered for the sole purpose of posting that.

evilclaw2321
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby evilclaw2321 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:04 am

Current first year grad here. I agree with most of the others. Dont commit to anything. Im taking 2-3 classes per semester plus TAing plus trying to squeeze research in somewhere. And on top of that they could have other weekly things to keep you busy, group meetings, colloquium, etc. So yes I do have a little free time, still go to the bar on the weekend and get outside a little, but I wouldn't do anything you have to commit a certain amount of time to. Summer is easier when you're not taking classes or TAing.

rdutta
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby rdutta » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:06 pm

grae313 wrote:dopemasterE, I hope you registered for the sole purpose of posting that.


Seconded.

Also, all the current grads I have talked to had little time outside of courses and such. Echoing someone else, it's probably best to decide after you're there and have a handle on things (that's my plan).

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InquilineKea
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby InquilineKea » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:26 am

Is everyone seriously that busy with classes? I mean, okay, it's important to pass the quals - that's for sure. But GPAs in grad school don't really matter at all as long as you pass (and as long as you have good relations with your professors). I could definitely imagine some people sacrificing a few grade points just to have some more free time to explore around (it's a new campus and a new city, after all), or even just more time to do research.

CarlBrannen
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby CarlBrannen » Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:24 pm

I had oodles of free time in grad school and I took a course load which apparently set some sort of record for a first year student. But I had a master's in math before entering, and that takes the sting out of a lot of grad classes (the theory isn't very much, most of the effort is in the math).

There was a grad student who was trying out for the US olympic decathalon team.

And by the way, the usual Texas expression I've heard is to "separate the sheep from the goats" or "wheat from the chaff". By the way, the "sheep from the goats" is a biblical allusion.

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grae313
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby grae313 » Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:45 pm

Don't listen to Carl. He's special.

You only need to maintain a 3.0 to not get kicked out of grad school, but if you are competing for a theory spot where money is tight and interest is high, you need to do very well in your classes (as in, be the best in the class or close to it). For the people who aren't looking to do theory, it still helps for getting into the more competitive research groups, for applying for the NSF and other fellowships (which everyone should do), and also working hard to do well in classes is a tough habit for most of us to break.

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InquilineKea
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby InquilineKea » Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:25 pm

Thanks for the responses!

Oh wow, research groups are actually competitive to get into? I didn't know that.

And is money really needed for theory? Is it more than just the stipend?

CarlBrannen
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Re: Free time as a first year grad student?

Postby CarlBrannen » Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:17 pm

grae313 wrote:Don't listen to Carl. He's special.


Right now I'm assuming I'll get in somewhere. Then the problem morphs from one of getting into grad school to one of getting out of it.

So I'm spending my free time rereading physics books, textbooks mostly. The problem is that you run into questions you don't know the answers to. I've found an AMAZING place for learning grad school level physics. You can post questions and really smart people will help you learn them. And it's fun! You even get to practice LaTeX:
http://physics.stackexchange.com/q/3401/1272




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