How to survive your first year of grad school

A few of my classmates and me. (Photo courtesy of Scarlett Chen)

A few of my classmates and me. (Photo courtesy of Scarlett Chen)

Last week, in a daze, I hit “submit” on my last final project for the semester.

I’d officially wrapped up my first year of grad school, and I wasn’t quite sure how I should celebrate.


(The answer, of course, was margaritas. The answer is always margaritas.)

Since then, I’ve been making plans for the summer, which, um, isn’t shaping up to be any less busy. But there’s a lot to look forward to.

And looking back, there’s a lot that got me through my first sometimes-hellish, sometimes-awesome year, and I’m sharing my incredibly helpful and super-serious knowledge with you.

Here’s how you, too, can survive your first year of grad school:

Get a blender. You never know when you might need a margarita or piña colada, and most of us can’t afford to always be hitting up the bars. The best part about owning a blender is you can enjoy your favorite frozen drinks while working on assignments… or while binge-watching Orange is the New Black and thinking, “Hey, at least I’ve got it better than those gals.”

Find healthy distractions. Sometimes, when it’s midnight, you just need to procrastinate before getting to the assignment that’s due tomorrow. My favorite distractions are scouring apartment listings on Craigslist (with no budget limit, of course—Beverly Hills, anyone?) and trolling dog rescue websites while showing dogs’ pictures to John telling him how we need to save the puppies right now.

Give yourself something to look forward to. And by that, I mean food.

Invest in your mental and physical health. In certain high-stress moments of the semester, my cohort’s classes would turn into very expensive group therapy sessions. (“Why do they want us to suffer?” we’d sob.) I also bought a Groupon for 70 percent off yoga classes at a local studio. I might’ve been cursing the teachers under my breath every time we were instructed to hold a plank pose, but ending on savasana every time was a great way to get a quick nap in.

Soak it up. And not just the margaritas. If you’re in a two-year program like I am, the first year makes you realize just how quickly the whole thing will go by. Before you know it, friends will disperse all across the country, hopefully landing some kickass jobs in the process. (Or in our program’s case, moving back in with our parents, because hello, we’re in journalism school. GUYS, I’M KIDDING. WE GOT THIS.)

Follow these five easy steps, and you’ll rock grad school. Cheers and ¡Salud!