How to Have Fun in Graduate School

Do you know how to have fun in grad school? Maybe you’re asking yourself: “is that even possible?” Well I’m here to tell you it is. For the past two years the equipment manager in the Neurobiology and Behavior department at Cornell University has put on a gorilla suit at Halloween and paraded through the building disrupting classrooms and research alike. Last year we had fun with him by dangling a banana in front of his face from a catwalk, but that was mere child’s play.

This year we knew what was coming and came prepared. Through a little bit of peer pressure (ok maybe a lot) 12 of us graduate students purchased banana costumes. But prior to Halloween we had to be sure the gorilla would appear, so four days before that fateful Friday we plastered bait around the building so good that no gorilla could pass up:

            When Friday came around we snuck down to the atrium, the gorilla made his appearance, and we had the best 30-minute study break of our graduate school career. At this point you may be thinking, that’s nice, but MY department would NEVER do anything like that. Well why not? Why haven’t you tried? This is a call to arms people! Get out of your desk chair, close down that R-script for a moment and assemble the required goods with a few simple steps:

1.     Find someone or a group of people who can take a surprise

2.     Convince or pressure your fellow graduate students to join in. They’ll thank you when it’s all over

3.     Lay the bait, ambiguous signs claiming free materials (especially free food) have been found to work well to draw a crowd of observers

4.     Carefully plan the presentation, the first 10 seconds are key for setting the mood but from then on out let collective behavior take over. The more spontaneous the ideas the better

5.     Remember Murphy’s Law. Things will go wrong, be ready to adapt!

So there you have it, go pull a prank that will make even the stodgiest of the stodgy professors crack a smile.