Grad School Essentials

A few weeks ago, I hit the halfway point for my Masters degree. In case you don’t know, I am currently getting my MA in English and Creative Writing. Being halfway done is both exciting and terrifying – it means I’m actually within sight of getting my Masters, but also that I need to figure out what the hell I’m doing after I’m done (someone hire me please!) – though I am considering going for a MPS in Publishing after I’m done.

There are a few things that have helped me stay sane over the past year plus (although it was iffy there in the beginning). First, and most important: coffee. Or, in the words of Lorelai Gilmore, “coffee, coffee, coffee.” I just feel like my mind wakes up after a nice cup of coffee. Or four. I’ve also discovered that vitamin B supplements are great for brain function (I’ve been using these since I started grad school – they actually work).

Netflix is also a must have. When I am not feeling my homework (which is probably about half the time), I like to throw in an episode of Friends or Gilmore Girls every hour or so. It’s a nice mental break, and it makes me feel a little less like I’m dying.

IMG_1454Since most of my homework involves reading, much of which is relatively dry, I also need some fun books. I’ve become somewhat addicted to Amazon and Book Outlet for discount book buying. A good contemporary read is the perfect treat for when I finish Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women for the tenth time – which is what I get for spending the last eight years studying history and English.

I have also recently discovered the amazing powers of gin. I’ve never been a big drinker, even in college. But, not only does a bit of gin do wonders for relaxing me, which is necessary when slogging through a few hundred pages of Shakespeare, it somehow magically cures my chronic migraines. I get migraines multiple times a week which prevent me from doing pretty much anything, let alone see and process text. And none of the medicines I’ve tried do very much. A little bit of gin helps me keep studying (and not in pain). And, yes, I’m over twenty-one and always drink responsibly.

Lastly, I’ve learned that it’s really helpful to create a good ambiance for studying. For me, this usually involves putting a nice scent in my wax warmer – my current favorites for studying are chai tea and pumpkin spice – and putting on some classical music or some sort of unobtrusive background noise – I really like this website, which lets you create your own background sound mix. I’ve also found that my concentration is best when I’m cold, so I usually sit under the AC vents and have several fans pointed at me (including a small one on my desk pointing directly at my face).

Let me know what your study must-haves are in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Grad School Essentials

  1. My study must-have is probably snacks. I snack all the time, when I’m studying or reading books or watching tv. Good luck on finishing your masters! I’m still taking my undergraduate right now but when I graduate I’m really considering continuing to get a masters degree 😊

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  2. Congrats on being halfway there! I don’t have any tips–but I’m curious to know more about this gin-helping-migraines thing. I’m allergic to the migraine medications that have actually worked, so I’ll try anything.

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    1. Thanks! I swear, gin is magic. All other alcohol makes my migraines worse. But a glass or two of gin and ginger ale and I’m good to go. I have no explanation. But let me know if it works for you! (Another tip I got from a physical therapist friend is caffeine and salt to help increase blood flow to the brain – fries and a coke actually takes the edge off most of my migraines!)

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      1. Oh yes to the caffeine–if I’m getting a bad one I have whatever we have in the house that’s caffeinated. I try not to drink caffeine too often otherwise so it’ll keep helping.

        Gin is disgusting, but I’ll happily give it a go.

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  3. A cat. It sounds weird, I know, but every now and then I need to just reach out and give my kitty a pat. He reminds me to get up and eat (mostly because he wants food) or to grab a drink too. But not in like a nosy way.

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