Coming from CUNY Hunter College, I never really had the typical ‘college experience’. Going to college for me was almost no different than going to high school since so many people were commuters; there was no campus, especially when compared to Virginia Tech.
I snowboard. After not going during the 2 years of my master’s, I decided the first thing I did when I started Tech was to find the ski/snowboarding club and go on a big winter trip. So I joined VT Snow my first year at VT, and I got go fly out to Colorado for the first time ever to go Snowboarding. I was the only graduate student who was in the club, and it was great. I met a bunch of new friends who all knew how to snowboard and have fun.
I also SCUBA dive. My second year, I ended up getting involved with the SCUBA club (SCVT) because my family had a winter break trip planned out to Australia. I ended up getting my SDI Advanced Adventure Diver last semester to prepare for the trip to see the Great Barrier Reefs. This semester I’m planning to finish my Rescue Diver, and hope to start a Dive Master course over the summer. Maybe by the time I finish my PhD I’ll also be a SCUBA instructor.
It’s important to have friends outside of your discipline, especially in a PhD program. As isolating as life can be, you definitely do not want to be constantly reminded about the work you know you should be doing when you’re giving yourself a well needed mental break.
The fact that these sports require so much mental focus, allows me to just forget about everything else. Plus the views on top of a mountain really makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, and the calm weightless feeling while diving is meditative.