Living the Dream

Monday, March 6, 2017

As my laundry piles, carpet stains and the dust rests in my room I realize that I just don’t have time outside of school anymore. We live on our school block all day, often staying past sunset to follow through with lab experiments and late night practice but we go home to a hollow emptiness.

True, I’m lazy and I could have spent that Saturday morning cleaning the place rather than sleeping in but I just don’t feel the motivation to do anything else after school.

Perpetual fatigue is an issue that is suffered by people of all occupations. UCSF, being the powerhouse that it is, attracts passionate human beings who work arduously to accomplish lifetime achievements for the betterment of our kind.

But with years of ceaseless battery on your mind and body, after the tough grit comes the whole body exhaustion. Give me a dollar for how many times I’ve seen residents walk out of the hospital with scrunched up scrubs or the number of hollow-eyed students studying through the night at the 24 hour library and I could probably pay off my loans.

To some, Kalmanovitz is the sanctuary to go to. We snuggle into our couches alongside the homeless who frequent our library; often more than we do. With the beautiful view of the bay, who wouldn’t want to venture into their dreamland afloat a couch across the bridge?

To the majority of us though, there really isn’t a place of rest. True, UCSF is not a place where you go to rest, it isn’t the sanctuary where people go to relax; we’re here to work.

We were hired because we decided that there was something greater than the word ‘me,’ something much more meaningful to be done about the short time life span that we have on this earth. This alone should power us through the day.

But we live in this constant guilt and pressure to ourselves. UCSF was smart to pick the people who are accountable, reliable and take responsibility of producing great work. We are low maintenance and work even better than machines. Improvising, changing and working towards the goal of improving upon what’s given to us. What makes us the best is that we even pay them for us to do this to ourselves. It doesn’t get better than that.

What the school fails to remember however, is that our hubris, our downfall, is that we are still human. And as much as we pride ourselves in the work that we do, we really can’t constantly live life like this. Being overworked vastly overshadows our quality of life.

I’ve seen the school’s feeble attempts at bringing some happiness to the school with Bagel and Coffee Tuesdays or even Dog Thursdays but even those seem like a rush. If you don’t make it by 11 a.m., the bagels and coffee are gone and with only one dog roaming around the Nurseteria lounge, you can start feeling the dog’s energy getting sucked with each lethargic student’s touch.

Our school does provide a unique outdoor recreational activities program. With Kirk McLaughlin planning a year’s worth of camping trips, I don’t think there’s anything more amazing than that. Of course, we have to compete for spots and we pay a yearly fee but all in all, it is a perk. Not only that, I’ve never seen a gym do so many exciting competitions. From the School Olympics to the more recent bicycle challenge, I get excited just looking at what’ll come next. Looking, because you still have to be a premium member to participate.

I’m not asking our school to be a Google or a Facebook where work is actually a haven and a heaven where there are no worries but the task at hand. (Mark though… would you be willing to donate a little more for an in-house laundromat?) All I want to emphasize is that the quality of life for us grad students deserves a little more cushion. Trust me, our quality of life will reflect on our quality of work and even more, our lasting memories of this school. With our school lacking a sense of local student pride with no sports team or undergrad, this needs to be put on the table.

There is a silver lining though…

No matter what, we chose this program over many other options available to us. There is no doubt in my mind that our programs rank at the top in the nation. There’s no worrying about the recognition that this school offers. And after our tired work nights, at least we can go to sleep knowing that this opportunity is one that others only dream of.

Just maybe give us premium access so that we can take some free yoga classes and take part in all these fun-looking gym competitions?