Image by Денис Марчук from Pixabay


I decided to start this blog after I’ve spent a little over 4 years in my graduate program. Throughout my Ph.D. journey, I had a lot of thoughts about life in academia - especially from an international perspective, as I am originally from Russia. Life as an international graduate student in the US has been a great adventure so far. Here, I found amazing mentors, friends, and love. I got to visit fantastic places and to experience many things for the first time. I discovered a new world of ideas and knowledge, and, most importantly, re-discovered myself. And I finally felt ready to share these experiences with others.

I’ve seen a few blogs and websites about graduate school, mostly covering the technicalities such as how to get in and how to arrive at the final destination - graduation, hopefully followed up by landing a tenure-track job. I’ve read countless articles lamenting the dark side of academia - high competition, the publish or perish mentality, the cult of overworking, lack of funding, loneliness and isolation, difficulties balancing academic work with social and family life… I’ve been there, too.

And yet, I’ve seen the amazing sides of being a graduate student. I’ve worked with brilliant thinkers who redefined the way I see the world. I’ve participated in fantastic school events. I’ve got to teach and help my students. I’ve polished my English to the point when writing anything is a breeze. I’ve learned how to manage my life, my time, my work life, my study life.

Now, here’s a thing: I don’t think I neatly fit in the whole “get a Ph.D. - get a postdoc position - get a tenure-track position” paradigm. I also had to overcome many hurdles due to my international student status. Most importantly, academia never completely defined my identity - I strive to live a life of personal development that goes well beyond campus.

So here I am - eager to share my experience in hopes that you may find it useful, relatable, maybe funny - or just an enjoyable read.

  • This blog is for any non-US citizens thinking about getting a graduate degree in the US. You will find a lot of essential details from my first-hand experience, including what to expect from visas, housing, prices, funding situation, American mentality, American English, best places for traveling, etc.

  • This blog is for any international students who are already working on their degree, maybe struggle sometimes and want to know that they are not alone and how to improve their grad life.

  • This blog is for any students who are not interested in working in academia after graduation and want to find like-minded people.

  • This blog is for any students who are curious about different perspectives on life in grad school.

  • This blog is for any students who want to know more about how to stay on top of their graduate studies - including time-management, self-care, dealing with writing blocks and procrastination, and having an active social life.

  • This blog is for anyone interested in what grad school life looks like - not in general terms but specifics.

I hope you guys find something useful, entertaining and relatable in my posts. Please feel free to reach out to me at gradlifeinfocus@gmail.com if you want to chat or want to know more about a particular aspect of grad life. I’ll be more than happy to chat!