I studied humanities in undergrad but am a first-year PhD student in a STEM field. Until recently, I was very proud of teaching myself the requisite background material to be competitive for a top-tier research program. But now that I am in the program, I realize just how much catching up I need to do and am feeling overwhelmed.
For example, I am only taking two courses this semester with the expectation that I explore research project ideas and secure a research advisor within my first year—I have an academic advisor who may become my research advisor, but that is not required. But one of these courses is taking up all of my time. The last two homework assignments have taken me 30–40 hours each to complete. I know other students also find the course hard, but even undergraduates who seem to struggle the most—those who are at office hours with me every single time—say the assignments take closer to 20–30 hours for them.
I am embarrassed to say anything. I have an academic advisor who seems very helpful, but I worry that she'll think less of me if she knows how hard this is. The alternative is to not really meet with her this semester and hope that I can get started on a research project next semester.