Notes from the Underground: Grad School Characters

It’s been an interesting 6 weeks in graduate school. I’ve found myself quietly observing the people around me. While I’m a bit older than the average 22-year-old, it’s been an eye-opening experience.

  1. The Chatty Ones: These are people who need to voice their opinion every 10 minutes in class. I can’t tell whether it’s because they’re extroverted, they’re wary of a participation grade, or just like to hear themselves talk. Sometimes I get inspired by their chattiness and get Chatty Cathy too. I need to stop this.
  2. The Quiet Ones: Sweet people. They quietly take notes and look around and smile at you. I would like to get to know them better.
  3. That One Person who is Quietly Taking Notes for Something Else that is not Being Discussed. I’m taking a small seminar in Buddhism and spiritual caregiving, which has been a fabulous experience. I sit next to a guy who is always taking notes on a book that we’re not discussing. He has an artist’s sketch pad that he uses to take notes. It’s all blank pages, unlined. He has a collection of Japanese pens in different colors. He sits right across the professor, with this book open that we’re not even going to talk about until next semester. He is avidly taking notes on the book, writing in tiny handwriting, then going for a colored pen and circling certain words that he has just written. I am fascinated. What is he doing? Where is he going ? What is the endgame? Dude, we’re not touching that book for 3 more months. We’re talking about the reading that was assigned for today. Are you just like hyper-organized? Also, Buddhism advises to “live in the present moment.”
  4. That One Person Who Argues with the Professor to Prove They’re Right and the Professor is Wrong. This is…a bit painful to sit through, but there are a small number of students who are “woke” and want everyone to know it. They also want everyone to know that they know more than the professor, even though the professor has a PhD and several, several years of teaching experience and is a professional data scientist. So they start by asking what looks like an innocent question and then get agitated when the professor answers that question with something they were not expecting or they do not understand. For some reason, they immediately assume the professor is wrong and start arguing. Dude. You’re wrong. He’s right. Stop arguing. It’s not going to change the math or the concept.
  5. That Good Looking Guy (GLG) with a Killer Accent and a Gaggle of Girls After Him. This one is an interesting specimen. I take a class with GLG. Great looks, foreign accent, funny…and I think he knows all of the above. He has quite the fan club of ladies after him. They follow him around like a gaggle of geese. It’s a little bit like Make Way for Ducklings. Every time I see him, there are girls trailing behind him. It’s amusing.

6. That Person on Zoom who is Eating with their Mouth Open or Chewing Gum like Britney Spears. Oh my goodness, please turn off your video camera. By the way, I love Britney Spears and I am very happy that she’s getting out of that conservatorship. #FreeBritney

7. That Person on Zoom who uses Zoom to Fix Their Hair and Clothes. I don’t understand this generation. And now for some lip gloss!

8. That Person in Class Who is Shopping on J. Crew. I take a class that is…a bit subpar. Won’t go into details, but it’s not what I was expecting and apparently what other people were expecting either. I sit next to someone who is always on J. Crew, adding colorful cashmere classic-fit crewneck sweaters to their cart.

9. That Person in Class Who Draws Meticulous Labyrinths in Their Notebook. What is going on? Let’s talk.

10. That Person in Class Who Looks like They’re Taking Notes but They’re Furiously Writing Emails. I admire the fury. He’s committed to Fury.

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