Not that grad school isn’t loaded with plenty to begin with, but here’s one I hadn’t considered before:
Yes, for many people, a college town is a rather idyllic place. There is a specific subpopulation in these college towns, however, for whom the experience becomes utterly hopeless. This subpopulation: those who move to college towns, are not college-aged, and arrive without a significant other. Meet those requirements, and you’re basically hosed until you escape. It is the bog of eternal singlehood.
Well, at least as a consolation, you will find great friends, for whom your sad, lonely, single self will serve as a reminder of why they need to stay committed to their own relationships.
Yikes! I would say another big part of the puzzle is that grad student lifestyle (regardless of where you live) isn’t friendly to attempts to get out and meet new people. Take the fact that I’m sitting in the office updating my blog while waiting for one last genome to finish loading into CoGe (pigeonpea!) at seven-thirty on a Friday night.*
And that means even if you did happen to come into grad school with a significant other, things can get messy (as explained by the Genomic Repairman):
So when work builds up, I tend to act less human and more like a robot and just grind away. And unfortunately I take on a sort of tunnel vision when I’m grinding. … If its not directly related to whats happening now it gets place on the backburner, which is fine if its mundane paperwork or BS emails that need to be sent out. Its not good if its your relationship and its going to cause tension.
I think its hard for a significant other who doesn’t do science to appreciate what we do. We can’t check out of work at 5pm and not worry about it to the other day. The stakes are too high in the game we play and you must be invested in your work. I am. I wake up at night with ideas, fears, and concerns. Did I do the transfection right? Am I being scooped?
*Just to be clear no one MADE me work late on the friday after thanksgiving. It is just really easy to get engrossed in science — at least when your research is going well — lose track of time, and ignore the rest of your life.