• Ani Antoine

Starting Graduate School During COVID-19

Your girl has done it! My first month of graduate school is complete!


In the spirit of celebration, I wanted to highlight 3 important take-aways I have learned so far in this month of transition from undergraduate to graduate school.


(All of these topics are a reflection of my experience as a graduate student during COVID-19. It has been a rollercoaster ride within the span of a month and the pandemic + personal life have lead to a whirlwind of experiences. These are just a few tips I have picked up while completing my studies and working.)


Self-care:


Though I enrolled in graduate school to learn something new that would help boost my career opportunities, it's not the only thing that I want to do in life. It's important to acknowledge that your whole life does not revolve around school. As students, it's absolutely necessary for each of us to take time for ourselves that focuses on relaxing, reenergizing, and healing. During COVID-19, it's even more important to find ways for us to interact with others while being isolated. Socially distant study sessions with friends or walks on your local trail are ways in which students can self-care and maintain healthy relationships. Also making sure to close your laptop and stop working at a good time during your day can help with establishing school and personal life boundaries. Ultimately, putting your health first is essential, all other things can wait! Take care of you!


Establishing Boundaries: Combatting the Cycle of Living at Work:

"We are not doing remote work at home, we are living at work"

After hearing a woman say this on a Zoom meeting, it stuck with me for a really long time. For many people, including myself, working and studying at home is difficult. It often feels like the lines have blurred between the two. Your home doesn't even feel like yours anymore as it has been invaded by remote learning/work every day of the week. We have been forced to infuse the work environment into our place of relaxation. I do understand that even having the option to complete work at home is a privilege and is a necessary and safe alternative to being around others during a pandemic, but it doesn't make it any less challenging. I have had to find ways to establish boundaries in my home that keep work, school, and personal life separated. Here are a few things I recommend:

  1. Have a designated space in your home to only do work (i.e. an office, dining room table, living room) and do not bring work into your personal space (i.e. bedroom). This has been super helpful in helping my body and mind to recognize when I am supposed to be in grind mode versus relaxation. In an effort to keep up with this boundary, I do not bring my computer into my bedroom for school work (it stays in the designated workspace) which further encourages the separation between work and personal life.

  2. Get Dressed as if you were going to school/work. Though we may not be going into the office or the classroom, getting dressed and ready for the day also helps to establish work-life boundaries. It can prepare you to get into the right mindset to complete work while giving you a sense of normalcy while living through a pandemic.

  3. Time Management: Creating & Honoring Your Routine. Setting daily goals for yourself to accomplish is a great way to stay focus on tasks. Additionally scheduling breaks, outdoor time, and a set time for you to end work can help foster work-life balance while at home.

Having Grace with Yourself:


We all know 2020 has been a ROUGH year. Especially, as a black graduate student in the United States living through COVID-19, systemic racism, political crises, and so much more. The weight of dealing with school and those things going on in your environment (including your personal issues) can be a lot to handle. There are so many things that are out of our control and coming to terms with this can leave many feeling powerless. Not being able to fix everything is OK! We have to give ourselves some grace during these challenging times.


You do not have to be at 100% every day. It's okay to take time for yourself to recuperate. In society, we're constantly taught that we always have to bring our best selves and to be frank, that is not always possible. We all have a lot going on and we need to make sure we are taking care of us. If you feel like you need to take time out for yourself one day (putting away school work or remote work for a job, etc.), DO IT! Take it day by day. Everything will work out in due time.



Living through changes can be a lot to handle while going through school, but you must place the health of your mind, body, spirit, and heart first. Take care of YOU!


I hope this work encourages you to be your best self and to continue growing and glowing.


Blooming where planted.


Ani.


This post is dedicated to Chadwick Boseman

1976-2020

May his legacy live on.



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