Today I’ll wrap up our series of advice for incoming (and future) students with a recommendation that should be easy to follow: Read a book! More generally, make time for whatever non-international affairs pursuit you enjoy in life. As Viv Savage would put it, have a good time…ALL the time.
You’re probably prepared to be busy in grad school, but new students are often taken by surprise (at least at first) by just how busy you’ll be. Your pleasure reading is particularly likely to fall victim to your grad school schedule given how much reading you’ll need to do for your courses, so now is the time to put a dent in your personal reading list. You are your own best counsel in this regard, but I’d encourage you to let the latest Thomas Piketty or Francis Fukuyama gather dust a bit longer in favor of your guilty pleasures. Personally I’ve lately been enjoying Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle, and am excited to see that Don Winslow has just dropped the first volume of a new trilogy (and if you haven’t read The Border trilogy you are missing out, friends). I finally got around to reading some Stanislaw Lem recently and can’t believe it took me this long. Whatever your nerdy literary enthusiasms, make time for them now!
It doesn’t have to be all reading, either. The months before grad school are a perfect time to binge The Bureau. (You haven’t seen The Bureau? Oh my goodness, you have to watch The Bureau). Or get away from those pesky screens and go on that road trip or hike you’ve had in mind. Play a sport, plant a garden, whatever. While I don’t want to imply you will have zero time for these pursuits once school starts, you will almost definitely find the demands on your time multiplying. There’s loads to do as you prepare for the start of the academic year, but it doesn’t all have to be work!