-Written by ML, a current graduate wife
Before I joined my now-husband where he is attending grad school, I was completing a fairly distinguished internship. Unfortunately this was also the year of the big economic crash. Just as I began to job search, companies were forced into hiring freezes and lay-offs. I decided that if I was going to be unemployed, I might as well be in the same town as my boyfriend.
After a couple more months searching for a good job, it was time to take one that would pay the bills. There aren’t a lot of opportunities here for grad spouses, and if they can manage it many of them don’t work at this stage in their lives, but for us that wasn’t an option. While my job does pay the bills, it doesn’t do much else, and I soon found myself seriously searching for some brain stimulation.
If you’re looking for the same, hopefully this helps.
Probably the most obvious answer, but there are several ways to go about this. You can enroll in a class for credit, but this can be costly. If you don’t need credit, find out if your spouse’s school will let you audit them for free. Many universities offer free recordings of classes online. What better way to learn something that’s not in your field than online in your home, without any homework or witnesses, to show you just how little you know about the topic? A lot of schools offer adult continuing education courses either online or in person. These are generally cheaper (and more fun) than a regular class. If you do want credit it doesn’t have to be at the same school your spouse attends; community colleges or other local schools can be more cost effective.
Public libraries often have evening courses for adults. If they don’t offer what you’re interested in, ask about starting one. The topics for these are more creative, less time consuming, and less intense.
Many places offer opportunities to volunteer. An upside to this is often flexibility. Don’t just look for a place that’s in your field – look at the fields places have to offer. Our local aquarium, for example, needs volunteer biologists, divers, educators, marketers, and staff for events.
Join or Start a Club
Reading, knitting, working out, or whatever floats your boat. See if there’s a club for that. Look beyond the college to the community for a broader range of things.
Read, read, read. I read before work so that my morning isn’t just about getting up, getting ready for work, and going to work. I read pretty much any time I can. No matter how flat I feel my brain is getting from work, it feels good to be able to hold an intelligent conversation around my husband and his colleagues.
Listen to Podcasts
What a great invention! I don’t do my hair in silence any more. Instead, I listen to an informational and highly entertaining podcast. I can listen to and from work, while I do the dishes, and while I’m at the gym.
Having a job that doesn’t stimulate you isn’t ideal, but sometimes it’s what we have to do. Let’s make the best of it!
What do you do for brain stimulation? If you have other ideas you’re welcome to leave them in the comments.