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Hey, this is my first post here. I'm a PhD student at a top 20 (US News lol) school for mathematics. I'm a 25 year old international student from a first world country (don't want to give away my identity). Academically, my experience so far has been great. But I've found myself shocked at the wealth disparity between my peers and I. I come from a single parent family, my father was never in the picture. My mother is unemployed and has been since I was in high school. Statistically speaking, I probably shouldn't have even graduated from a bachelors degree... I entirely rely on my stipend to stay afloat (can't work since I'm an international student), and I get taxed a fair bit too. It's a struggle to go back home to family in the summer (flights that far are pretty expensive). I entered the program thinking I could become an academic, but now I feel like I should try to transition to industry and make as much money as I can, upon graduation. Was I wrong to even think of doing a PhD in the US? Is that just a luxury I cannot afford?

My peers (who are no older than me) discuss buying properties, investments, drive Mercedes Benz cars and generally have a lot to fall back on. I know I shouldn't be bitter but it's really hard not to be. It's not like they are bad people, they're actually really nice and I value them a lot as friends. But there's many subtle things that go so smoothly for my peers (that they don't even register it) that take me so much more deliberation. For example, when looking for housing, there's often a requirement for a guarantor or evidence of income. My peers just quote their parents bank accounts and all is well. For me... not so easy. A lot of my energy and time is spent stressing about these kind of things, and that time my peers can spend getting ahead academically. I suppose it doesn't help that there's a bit of a competitive atmosphere in our cohort.

I also have very little guidance. No one in my family went to university and my mother didn't complete high school. I don't know how I've made it this far. It's hard not to feel like an imposter as well.

This has all been quite directionless as a post, but I think I just wanted to put my thoughts out there. Maybe someone else feels the same way. Sorry for such a negative post. If you think I'm complaining too much and I need a reality check, I wouldn't mind being told that either. Maybe I just need to tough it out. :~\ Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is doing well.

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