Friday, April 13, 2007

Two views of the limbo that is grad school

Yesterday a fellow PhD student and I were chatting with a stall holder at the market that is held on campus every Thursday. The stall holder said business was slow because all the students are still on Easter break, and so the only people shopping were the admin and teaching staff, none of whom seem to want any of the second-hand clothing she was selling.

Then, "What about you two? Do you work here, or are you still doing the student thing?"

My friend and I replied at the same time.

She said, "Both."
I said, "Neither."

And I think that sums up the grad student identity crisis quite neatly.

6 Comments:

Twirly said...

My ID card is in on the joke - on one side it says Student and the other it says Staff

Jana said...

I'm puzzled - surely as a PhD student you're, well, a student? Even if you do tutoring as well?

StyleyGeek said...

The problem was, by saying "doing the student thing" and from the context of the conversation (talking about how nice it is for them that undergrads have two whole weeks break), it was obvious she was thinking of undergrad students.

Also, the main difference for me is that undergrads pay to study, while we GET paid. Sure, it isn't much by comparison to a real world study, but it is framed like a job contract in our scholarship contract. It says we have to work 40 hours a week, we have to apply for holidays or sick leave, etc. So yes, while technically we are students, I find it awkward to just say "yes" to questions like that without giving further clarification.

Especially because it then leads to responses like, "So what's your major?" or "What year are you in?" or "Are you enjoying your holidays?" or "Do you have exams coming up?", none of which are really appropriate!

shrinkykitten said...

We were always students when it came to forcing us to miss out on benefits of being faculty or staff (good insurance, paid vacations and sick leave, job security, unemployment, etc.) but were considered faculty or staff when it really sucked (having to do the idiotic ethics training, which had absolutely nothing to do wtih our work but was mandatory and if we didn't do it, we had to pay $5000, having to pay tuition even if we were just doing the diss or were away on internship, etc.).

wwwmama said...

this is classic, styleygeek. thanks for making me laugh!

The History Enthusiast said...

LOL! I feel this way all the time too!