It’s definitely hard to be young in academia, when you’ve not accomplished enough to have any significance in the field, but are expected to start contributing to great scholarly discourse. Though young, fresh viewpoints can have their merits, the experience, connections and respect of scholars before us are impossible to compete with. So, grad school is hard and sometimes, in the words of very accomplished academicians, soul crushing.
That said, being young in academia often leads to moments of humorous cultural clashes between young pop culture and intelligent discourse. Sometimes we turn an immature, frivolous conversation into something meaningful, and sometimes we spice things up, with youthful flair.
Story one: one of the first times I met the people in my program, we all started talking about favorite movies etc., and a Star Trek conversation ensued. While discussing the recent movie, some political science theory started to get laid down, comparing the actions of the Romulans to the actions of Somalian pirates over the summer. Star Trek came in handy again when I couldn’t remember the Uzbek word for “40” in class. My colleague reminded me to “think Star Trek,” and now I’ll never forget that 40 is “kirk” in Uzbek.
Story two: after attending a special seminar with some of the eminent scholars in the field of Russian Studies, some colleagues and I were contemplating the way a certain professor had described Putin and Bush’s relationship as “homosexual,” with all of their “staring into each other’s eyes” and very physical hugs upon greeting each other. We decided that though this statement was provocative, it really wasn’t accurate. Putin and Bush are really more “bromantic” in their relationship. However, that raised the question: can one be bromatic with a “frenemy”?
Story three: while discussing Halloween party plans and witty and/or creative costume ideas (we’re generally white people and if you haven’t read this Stuff White People Like blog entry, you should), a former I-banker in our group started formulating an elaborate plan for how the government should provide interest-free loans for people to buy Halloween costumes, since it’s such a commercialized holiday and that would really boost the economy. Thus, taking a conversation about a frivolous holiday and making it into a stimulus plan.