I had a hard time for the first two years of my PhD dealing with negative feedback. Before my first year exam or confirmation, I had to submit two reports: a pilot project report to test if my initial idea was scientifically valid and the first year report. Needless to say that they were both rubbish. When I got told that my data and the way I led my experiment was poor, I freaked out. Who is willing to be told that their work isn’t good enough?
May has been a very busy month. Loads of exciting things have happened including new job opportunity, change to meet new friends and old friends and loads of progress with my science.
You are about to finish your degree, master or PhD, and you are panicking because you have to apply for jobs but none tells you how to do it? After my last post on how to structure your CV (if you haven’t read it yet, please, check here), I was involved in loads of conversation about transferrable skills and what universities do or, most likely, don’t do to help the transition from academia to industry. I honestly don’t believe this is fair at all as, in many countries, students end up with an eternal mortgage to get an education.
Bookmark scicomm available to purchase from my Etsy shop for £8, check here.
Yesterday I came across a funny tweet. One of my virtual friends asked whether science communication improved mental health in graduate school and if any data was available. I didn’t have any data last night and I just answered that tweet by saying “science communication saved my PhD”. At some point during my PhD, end of my first year, which I failed BTW, my mental health was extremely poor. I was crying every day, couldn’t stay still, had nightmares, strong headaches and felt unsafe to be in the lab. I was questioning my skills as a scientist every moment and thinking of quidding my PhD 5 times a day every day.
I didn’t lose my mind, no no! I did write 10000 words of my thesis in 10 days. It isn’t a typo either! How that happened? The writing up period is notoriously the hardest and most stressful bit of a PhD. And, for students like myself, who are doing their PhD in a second language that should be much more intense! I was honestly quite scared to even open a Word document and put together a few words considering all the bad publicity.
I am back to business (blogging) and decided to put together this article to share my experience of being an international student and tell the story of how I became more than my PhD. As I am reaching the end, less than 6 months away from my thesis submission, I have been reflecting on the 4 years spent in Nottingham. I honestly could not be any happier of the unique opportunity I was given to. This PhD made me grow professionally and as a person in a way that I could have never envisioned. I have learned a lot about science, science communication and about myself.
There are loads of things I wish I was told before starting this PhD. The list is so long that I am not even sure where to start with. Apart from the obvious things, like making sure to find a supporting and understanding advisor (really learned this the hard way), familiarising with the wellbeing facilities like the health centre, gym etc, or finding your community of people, either by joining societies, book clubs, becoming member of sport and more professional clubs (will talk about this later on this month).
This post is coming a bit earlier than expected. If you been following me for a while you might know that I tend to write a blog article at the end of every month (check Jan and Feb ones) to assess whether I am on track with my goals and check on my progress. Many things happened over the last month, most of them unexpected. So I needed careful planning to make the best decisions for the upcoming and hopefully last months of my PhD!
Continue reading “When your PhD wins over you – 6 months to go!”
February was a busy month if you remember I started it with a to-do list. I had to deal with loads of stuff on top of my research. I organised an OutReach event, had loads of training on career development and CV writing, I went to the doctor a few times. I always promise myself to be less busy but I always find a way to do something. I started forgetting to get my medications, had headaches at work and decided to slow down and rest. I know very well all the signs that my body gives to me and forgetting to take meds is one of them. I made sure to sleep enough, up to 12 h a few consecutive nights and went for a one-day gateway to the spa.
I woke up this morning and a to-do list wad my first thought. Since I started this PhD, I have been under the impression that I am always behind everything. This is not the person I used to be. I used to be punctual, finishing tasks well before deadlines etc. As I was getting busier and busier and couldn’t manage things anymore, my time management skills needed to step up. I have been better at making plans now and, honestly, writing down stuff really helps in keeping track.