Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association

MBPGSA Blog

Updates, opinion pieces, and news related to the department

How To Survive Small Talk During The Holidays

(photo by Minas Lamprou) On behalf of the MBPGSU Blog team, I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays! Make sure you take some time to rest and enjoy the time off with friends and family.

I would like to leave you with a hilarious script on how to talk to your family about your life as a graduate student, courtesy of The Gloved Avenger at BenchFly.com.

---

The Grad Student’s Holiday Party Survival Script:

What do the holidays mean to graduate students?  Time to take a well-deserved break from the lab.  Time to step back from the bench and take a hard look at their project.  Oh, and time to have the same, depressing conversation with family and friends who don’t really understand the process of grad school but feign interest once a year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my project and I love talking about it.  But after years of trying, I have come to realize that a holiday party is not the right time.  In fact, what I’ve found is that most party small talk is like having a conversation with Charlie Brown’s teacher – I don’t have to actually listen to them to know what they’re saying.

In fact, so consistent are these conversations that I created a script I use at holiday parties to keep conversations short and sweet without getting into the actual science.  This way, I look like I’m having a good time, they don’t have to act interested in research they don’t care about and my mind is free to think about how I’m going to buy Christmas presents on a grad student’s salary…

Feel free to try it out at your next party.

ME: Hi! Merry Christmas, great to see you again!  How have you been?

THEM: [answer]

ME: That’s great to hear.

THEM: [question]

ME: Things are going well!

THEM: [question]

ME: For a few days – my boss was kind enough to unchain me from lab for the week.

THEM: [question]

ME: I’m in my fifth year now.

THEM: [question]

ME: Well, med school is four years, but I’m in graduate school and unfortunately there’s no limit.

THEM: [question]

ME: I agree- it’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day- the days are all blending together now.(Take a big gulp of my drink…)

THEM: [question]

ME: No, I finished most of my classes after the first year so now it’s just full-time research.

THEM: [question]

ME: That’s the million dollar question- hopefully in the next year or so. (Take a bigger gulp of my drink…)

THEM: [question]

ME: Although I’m not completely sure, I’ll most likely try to find a postdoctoral position.

THEM: [question]

ME: It basically means I’ll be working in someone’s lab doing full-time research for half-time pay.(laugh to avoid tearing up)

THEM: [question]

ME: That’s right, from there I could apply to become a professor or I could continue research in a company somewhere.

THEM: [statement]

ME: Yeah, it would be great but the job market is pretty competitive these days so if you see me bagging your groceries next time you’re at the store, don’t be surprised.

THEM: [statement]

ME: Thanks, I’ll definitely need it!

THEM: [statement]

ME: Great to see you too and happy holidays! (grab another drink and jot down the new idea for an experiment I just came up with)

Samuel Oduneye