In the first few weeks of your program, you will be hit with a lot of information and may be thrown into teaching with minimal to no training. While this may seem like an overwhelming situation, it is important to make time to attend as many social events as possible.
You may ask yourself: Can I really find the time in all this chaos to socialize and have a good time?
I would say that even if you do not think you have the time, you should make it. I recommend attending social gatherings within your department or graduate student program at your university. This will help you network and form new relationships with individuals that may someday be on the leading edge of their fields. These new relationships may also benefit you by having a confidential group of colleagues/friends to chat and vent with outside of your department.
Throughout the year, avoid isolating yourself by attending the social events that come up. If your department or university do not have any social events, plan some! These events can be as simple as meeting up to eat lunch or as elaborate as a planning a movie or game night. Below you can find some events within my department that I have planned or attended.
I made an effort to attend department social events, such as happy hour and trivia to get to know the more senior graduate students within my department. These social events gave me a break from the information overload during the first weeks of lab and have continued to be a breather from grading, homework, and research since last year. We also have "Bad Geology" movie nights a couple times a semester and have had joint events with undergraduates for trivia, movies, and game nights in our conference/seminar room. Other ideas include going to check out a local brewery, cafe, park, trail, or even just meeting up to work out at the gym.
Any socializing can be as short or long and as frequent as you would like; however, I would reiterate that you should avoid isolation through socialization.
If you have other suggestions for social ideas, please comment below!
Joshua E. Kuether