Last fall, I was invited to a Halloween party in which 95% of the attendees were U of T grad students. Was I terrified that no one would want to talk to an undergrad? Yes, of course. I felt like a grade 9 student being invited to hang out with the grade 12 kids. You may be wondering why I have friends in grad school in the first place…
From Course Work
I am currently in an ROP course with the Department of Chemistry at U of T. This course serves as a FCE while giving me a taste of what research is like – in a lab, with real world application and real graduate students. It’s not everyday that when you encounter an issue with the machine you’re using that you can just knock on the door of the engineer who made the machine. The graduate students in Dr. Dhirani’s lab serve as our first point of contact before Dr. Dhirani himself. Having been undergraduates themselves not long ago helps us to relate to one another better. I found that making friends with my teaching assistants (TAs) useful too. When you’re more comfortable with them, they’re more approachable and asking for guidance in classwork seems less daunting.
From Co-curricular Activities
“I’m in first year too! First year of graduate school, that is…”
When I think of being a novice, or a beginner in a new field or sport, I think of first or second years – but I stand corrected. Team sports at U of T, be it Varsity or Intramural draw students of all years of study together. My novice rowing team was made of undergraduates and graduate students. I’ve made great connections and learned a lot from them in terms of rowing technique, graduate student life and even grocery shopping tips!
A part of rez life that I miss most (besides being walking distance from my friends) are my grad student dons. They were welcoming and always had their doors open for a game of Catan (and they seemed to never run out of snacks). They were like older siblings that I never had. I was lucky enough to have two Dons on my floor too! I got to know both of them while on residence by eating meals in the cafeteria with them and hanging out in the common room during study breaks.
Currently, my end goal is to be in academia and most of my friends in math and science share this goal, so eventually… we’ll be grad students ourselves. Might as well start making friends with other grad students early!