In August last year, I was awarded my PhD degree in education (Science Education) from the University of York. Since finishing my doctoral studies, I have been reflecting on what I did and should have done better. I considered it would be a good idea to write down some of my observations that might be helpful for all those who have just started their PhD journey.
A PhD is an exceptional experience, especially if you are an international student who may cross the pond to start this journey, leaving behind family and friends. Despite this, I can assure you that you will learn so much about cultural differences, diversity, and inclusion. The University of York has been a wonderful place to start this journey, giving all the students the tools and network to Thrive and Survive the PhD.
I would like to start by describing the PhD as a learning curve. It is a process where you go through many experiences, such as learning to manage your time, work, and social life. Therefore, it is essential to remember that the PhD is an enjoyable time in your life, although it could be challenging.
A piece of advice that I would like to share with you are:
Keeping calm and carrying on: During this journey, you could have good days to celebrate events and make friends. Also, some challenging days where you can learn from them and move on. The University of York has colleges and groups (GSA, Thrive and Survive you PhD) to help you and offer support during this journey. Indeed, doing a PhD is a constant learning process where you will uncover more about yourself.
Managing your supervisor: Your supervisor will have a significant role during this journey because they represent a support source to collaborative in your project, challenge your ideas, and provide explanations to the current problems. It would help if you started to discuss a plan to work during the PhD as soon as possible to get the most support from your supervisor because someday, you will become an expert in your field. Hence, I would encourage everybody to find how you can get the most out of them.
Managing yourself and enhance opportunities: During the PhD, you learn so much about yourself and ways to enjoy and cope with challenges. It is relevant to focus on what motivates you to carry on with your work. There is always a lure to do some other things rather than concentrate on writing your thesis chapters; However, you learn to prioritise and enhance opportunities. As a postgraduate of the University of York, you can have plenty of opportunities to gain experience, such as teaching, volunteering, becoming involved in different projects, and mentoring other students. So, I would encourage you to try a few out; You will enjoy and help your future career decisions.
During your PhD, you will spend a lot of time talking about your investigation, getting lots of ideas and suggestions, making lots of changes, and creating new social and work networks. Sometimes you will understand and accept the input of others, and seldom you will disagree. It is essential to be open to comments and feedback without leaving your internal voice in your research. I genuinely think that no other role that I could have taken on in the last four years would have challenged me as much and given me as significantly satisfaction at the same time.