Scene 1: A long and narrow corridor sporting labs on the right and offices with wooden doors on the left, plastered with comics, a white board with “Piso Mojado” written and aroma of coffee in the air. Its 8 pm at night, all offices are full of headphoned zombies peering into multiple monitors surrounded by cabinets of books, a huge heap of loose papers, whirring printers and a minimum of two bicycles inside the office acting like a see-through wall. A student leaves the office to refill water for his kettle and bumps into another exiting a lab, forced into eye-contact and he is completely unaware that he has been sharing the same office and printer for over a year now.
Student 1: Hey man, wassup! Long time, how is it going?
Student 2: Not bad actually, its going okay. How is it going for you?
Student 1: Okay for me too.
Student 2: See-ya man.
Student 1 waves and walks away
Interpretation (the real story)
Student 1: How is your research going man? Gotten any results lately? Cos I havent
Student2: Pretty screwed man, Im just spending time in the lab so that I dont forget how to use the equipment. Also, it makes me look busy.
Student1: Hmm, I know what you mean. I got scolded last time for no work as well.
Student2: You’ll be stuck here with me all the time while the world enjoys itself shopping, skiing, skateboarding, eating more than cookies and cold sandwiches and watching movies in a real theatre.
Scene 2: Not very different from scene 1 though only now, its friday night.
Student 1: (only just noticing the other student since he dropped a huge stack of papers on the floor) Hey man! Wassup? Planned anything fun for the weekend?
Student 2: Nah man, I’m probably gonna sleep. You?
Student 1: Same, though I’ve these results to compile so I guess I’ll be in office tomorrow.
Student 2: Yeah, that reminds me, I need to make a poster for the conference. I’ll be here too.
Interpretation: Nothing really actually. They are pretty much screwed as is.
Scene 3: Now, its thanksgiving weekend.
Student1: (Standing up and stretching) Ahh! Thanksgiving is here at last. Four days break. What plans man?
Student 2: Nothing much, I’ve a test, four assignments and two projects due on monday after. What about you?
Student1: I actually have some free time since I compiled the results yesterday. Maybe I’ll catch up on sleep.
Student 2: Ah, Im jealous man. I guess Christmas break should be the time for me.
The next day..
5:30 am. Student 1 is back in office. Student 2 all groggy eyed and smelling of coffee and sweat looks up surprised
Student2: What are you doing so early? I thought you were catching up on sleep.
Student 1: My advisor mailed me at 4:30 am.
Student2: Oh. Not good.
This is the standard Q & A in grad school. “How is it going?” and “Any plans for weekend/Thanksgiving/Christmas?” and “What courses are you taking this semester?” (not restricted to the beginning of the semester since no one ever really bothers to remember what they replied so they continue asking all year round) are the only questions that everyone asks everyone else in corridors, elevators, near the water faucets etc. That is what is perhaps defined as socializing in grad school.
(Written in amusement after answering the same questions over 50 times yesterday)