Monday, 20 July 2015

The Less Fun Bits of Studying For A PhD

Original image by Moyan Brenn on Flickr. You can find that by following this link all credit and attribution goes to him.

So, as you know, I am currently studying for a PhD. I know I mention it a ittle too often, there’s a good reason for that which I’ll come to in a second. I thought I’d share some of the lesser known things about studying for a PhD (at least in my experience at Bolton anyway).
  1. Your PhD becomes your life. This is why I mention it so often, I pretty much do nothing else so I have little else to talk about. Except TV, turns out you get very good at background watching programmes while you’re reading or writing papers, or in the quick breaks while you eat (if you’re me). This is especially true in the periods when none of the students are there.
  2. Holidays, weekends and evenings mean nothing to you. There is no such thing any more, it’s all just time in which you should be working. Your supervisor will actually tell you to do so. Which may just sound like normal student studying, but remember you are also in minimum 9-5, Monday to Friday, with no summer holidays. (At Bolton we do get two weeks at Christmas and a few days at Easter over the long bank holiday weekend while the university is shut).
  3. Sometimes nothing works. This is more true of research/experimental PhD’s I think, but sometimes you can try a million things and none of them work. I’ve spent forever basically trying to waterproof a coating, so far nothing has worked. It sucks.
  4. Just because you are there while the students are gone doesn’t mean you will get much work done. It’s true what they say about Britain shutting down over summer, August especially can be a pain. You might need something now, but the person who can do it is on holiday for two weeks and has a to-do list the length of the building. Summer is quiet, but a pain (being sat in an office, in my case one with no natural light, does not help matters).
  5. Getting your Thesis printed and bound so you can submit it is very expensive. This is a proper hardbacked book, a few hundred pages long. And, if like us, your Supervisor also wants two copies as well as the official copy then it gets even more expensive.

In the end though, it’s all totally worth it. You wrote a book, you’re now the most knowledgeable person about your chosen subject and you get to call yourself Dr, that’s pretty darn awesome. Plus that PhD is super useful for helping you get jobs in many cases. 

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