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Recharge in summer

Summer is the perfect time to make room for activities and experiences that will help you be – and feel – prepared for the coming year! The pace can feel slower during this time of the year, and there’s a little more wiggle room to be intentional about visualizing and achieving your intellectual, professional and interpersonal goals. Maybe you’re starting from scratch (or already have some initial goals) and just need a plan of action? Maybe you need some structured time and support to work on a grant proposal, finish an experiment, polish a manuscript or start your job search? Maybe you are interested in exploring the Pacific Northwest and trying some activities during the best season to live in Seattle? Or maybe you have other, non-UW responsibilities to take care of and often find it difficult to schedule time to relax and (momentarily) step away.

We encourage you to carve out some time to refuel yourself, and choose activities that would bring you energy. As we all know that self-care is important and will help with productivity.

Below are some tips and opportunities you can engage in throughout summer in Seattle.

Tips for self-care

UW Recreation opportunities

  • UWild Adventures offers opportunities to attend a class or a trip, rent gear, climb at the Crags, paddle at the Waterfront, or join a club.
  • UW IMA membership includes access to swimming pool, gyms, assorted courts, locker rooms, indoor track, climbing center, cardio and weight rooms and a variety of studio spaces.

Activities around Seattle

  • Space Needle | Chihuly Garden and Glass | Pacific Science Center | Seattle Great Wheel | The Original Starbucks | Fremont Troll | Gum Wall | Gas Works Park
  • Seafair Festival continues throughout the summer, culminating with amazing displays ranging from a Blue Angels Air show to thrilling hydroplane boat races between August 2 and 4.
  • Root for Seattle Teams: Mariners, Sounders and Reign
  • Foodies’ Choice: Bite of Seattle

Outdoor Activities

  • Golden Garden Park: beach volleyball; BBQ; kayaking; sunbathing on the sandy beach
  • Alki Beach: Biking; kayaking; beach volleyball; BBQ; sunbathing on the sandy beach
  • Hiking: Washington Trail Association; Public transportation options;

Museums and Free Museum Days

Live Music

Movies in the Park

The OPA newsletter is distributed monthly throughout the year. Feel free to reach out if you have something to share. And, take care of yourself!


The MakerSpace is a free resource for students that includes 3-D printers, industrial sewing machines, multiple 3D printers, Kinect v@, 4 iMac desktop stations, electronic fabrication and assembly. Paid for by the Student Technology Fee, so really, you should take advantage of what you pay for.  

Reaching Out for Support

We know that you’re working hard to meet deadlines, achieve milestones, and fulfill commitments within and beyond your graduate program. During these last few weeks of the quarter, we encourage you to tap into support resources that match your needs. Your success is not only about your ability to complete your grad program requirements for the quarter, it is also about being able to get support for yourself as a whole person.

Peer support. Consider scheduling a writing group session for a few hours in the upcoming weeks. Peers need not be in your grad program. The goal is to schedule structured time dedicated to completing final projects. Just sitting next to one another can break the isolation of graduate study, and you can hold one another accountable to meeting your writing goals. Depending on the environment that works best for all of you, meet at a café, find a spot in your campus library, or make it a potluck/work group so you can enjoy good food at the same time.

Campus and community support. Let’s be real! Graduate school is stressful — with some weeks feeling more challenging than others. If you’ve been experiencing anxiety or depression for more than a few days, we encourage you to reach out to counseling services on your campus (Bothell, Seattle, Tacoma). Each counseling center can refer you to low cost community-based mental health resources in your city or area. If you need to talk to someone in more immediately, consider calling your county’s free 24-hour crisis line: King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County. If you’re having a hard time taking any of these steps, consider asking a trusted peer, friend or staff to sit with you while you contact support resources. There’s no shame in asking for professional mental health support.

Faculty support. Email your professor, drop in during their office hours or schedule a short online meeting if you have follow up questions about final projects or tasks that are due. Life also happens, and you may need more time to complete your final project. Be proactive and contact your professor as soon as possible to see if you can get an extension. Be clear about why you need an extension and include a realistic timeline for turning in your project. More often than not, professors are accommodating. Just remember to be proactive.

Self-care. There’s always time for self-care, and there’s never a better time to practice self-care than during crunch time near the end of a quarter. Hold off on making any new commitments, and reschedule times for meetings and projects that can be put on pause for the next couple of weeks. Consider marking out time in your daily schedule to get up from your workstation to stretch, drink water or catch up on the phone with friends and loved ones. We all think better when we get enough sleep, so set limits for yourself while you’re working (use a timer if needed), so you can get ready for bed at a reasonable time.

We hope these tips are helpful, and let us know what has worked for you!


Core Programs—Office of Graduate Student Affairs
UW Graduate School

Surplus Store

When your department gets rid of office furniture, computer equipment, pianos, artwork, whatever, it goes to the UW Surplus Store. And the inventory is open to the public at rock bottom prices every Tuesday. Check it → 

A+ Teacher

The College of Education features doctoral student Polo DeCano in this video about his role as a teacher, leader and scholar. 

Lauren Fine: Talking politics with family (and not losing your cool)

Lauren Fine“Listen, and listen more than you talk,” says Lauren Fine, a doctoral student studying political communication at the interpersonal level. It’s good advice, generally, but it’s especially prudent if you’re struggling to discuss politics with family or friends at holiday gatherings.

If you’re engaged in political discussion with close others in close spaces, “try to ask questions to understand not just what your family members think, but why they think that,” and understand the core values motivating their beliefs, Lauren says.

“We like to think we’re these very rational creatures, but we’re not,” she explains. “We have emotional, value-based reasons behind our beliefs. I’ve found if you can get someone to tell you about their values, it’s a lot easier to understand their beliefs.”

Another strategy for communicating with family in political discussion is to use “I” language instead of “you” language.

“In my research about political communication on Facebook, the conversations that are the most volatile are the ones where people say things like, ‘How could you think this?!’ And, ‘You’re so wrong!’,” Lauren says. Conversations tend to be more civil when people focus on telling their story, instead of telling the other person why they’re wrong. “It’s a less conflict-based approach, and more about having a conversation, because you’re family, or you’re friends, and you care about each other,” she says.

Finally, Lauren reminds you to keep some perspective. “Your family’s and friend’s political beliefs are not the only thing about them,” she says. “I think it’s easy for us to get caught up in the moment and let political disagreements ruin our holiday because we’re just so frustrated with someone.” This doesn’t mean to avoid politics all together — it can be constructive to engage in these discussions — but don’t let political conversation dominate your holiday.

Even if you don’t convince anyone to believe as you do, these conversations can still be constructive. That’s because “once your friends and family know you think differently than they do, chances are they’re going to be more open to seeing that somebody who believes differently from them is not necessarily a bad person,” Lauren says.

She relates this to the theory in political communication of “the spiral of silence,” which occurs when people think everyone else believes a certain way, so they don’t express their view, even if they think differently from the perceived-norm. There may be other people who hold the same dissenting view, but that view is never aired.

“I think this is a natural human tendency,” Lauren says, “but I think it’s something we should try to combat.” By expressing your political view — even if it may be unpopular among your family and friends — you can help break the spiral of silence, and that can make people more open to sharing and hearing different opinions in the future, she says.

Cultivating Gratitude

As we near the holiday break, we express our sincere gratitude to you, grad students across the University of Washington tri-campus. As graduate students, you are an integral part of the university eco-system and beyond. You’re all working so hard to make important contributions to your families and communities, to teaching and research, and to professions and industries within and outside of academia.

We hope you take time during the break to recognize all of the small and big milestones you’ve achieved during the quarter thus far!

At this time, we also invite you to cultivate gratitude for individuals, loved ones, and communities who have encouraged you and offered you a sense of grounding in your life. This can include writing and sending a thank you message, prayer or meditation, or pausing to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings when you go for a walk. And did you know that cultivating gratitude has positive outcomes? Research shows that practicing gratitude promotes our individual, interpersonal, and community health and well-being. To whom would you like to express gratitude?

Best Regards,

Core Programs—Office of Graduate Student Affairs
UW Graduate School