Is a PhD only learning about your niche of research?

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This morning I wanted to put together a list of things that I would like to do once I have finished my PhD. I started writing down travelling, going to a concert and this sort of stuff. Reading through, I just realised that none of this stuff is amazing things to do. They are just normal stuff. I actually don’t have to wait until the end of my PhD to do crazy things because I have been already living my best life.
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#shadowascientist – A day in the life of an unconventional PhD student

The other day I came across an article published by Christine Liu about impostor syndrome and the fact that many grad students are so intimidated by academia that they spend a good part of their time thinking they don’t belong to the system. I have been through my PhD experience feeling like this every single day because I don’t fit the picture of a “traditional” scientist. And this has really little to do with the fact that I am a woman in STEM. I question every day how people see me from the outside. Is it the science communication and my voice on social media too much? Will this affect my future job applications? Do I come across as an assertive and strong person or people think of me as an aggressive beast? And I don’t want to even start to talk about how my femininity comes across!

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4 more checks, then I need to find a job!

I actually realised that the university will pay me for the next 4 months, then I need to find a job to make a living. Not sure if the excitement is higher the fear that, after 25 years, schooling is coming to an end. I didn’t want to write this blog article today. I didn’t want to share any more negative feeling/experience. But, I had to remind myself that every feeling is important, positive and negative feelings should be welcomed with the same attitude. There is a tendency of hiding negative emotions and sharing only positive ones. But life is ups and down and showing off only joy makes life fictional not real!

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How science communication saved my PhD

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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.

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How I wrote 10000 words of my PhD thesis in 10 days!

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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.

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How to become more than your PhD

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.

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You will not win the Nobel Prize for your PhD thesis.

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).

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When your PhD wins over you – 6 months to go!

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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!
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8 months to go or more! PhD life.

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 one-day gateway to the spa.

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