The first blog post is always the hardest. Firstly, because at this point in time, I have no clue what to say and secondly as I have never blogged before (and thirdly, because I don’t like writing about myself, but I have been reassured that this feeling will reduce as I go along..!!!). Oh I forgot about choosing a name – so I decided that it’s my name as it’s my blog, simple.
I will not bore you with the repetitions of who I am, but you can find this on the ‘About me’ page if you really do want to know.
Well anyway, I did something amazing. I started a PhD. Okay, no big round of applause as many people start a PhD, but really, after three years of trying to find one (and more importantly get accepted onto one) where I really love the idea of the project, I have finally done it. Not only that, something else has happened… I moved out of North East England *gasps*.
Well, not too far, but Edinburgh is not England. It is Scotland, and ‘bonnie’ Scotland it is (I am currently staring at a view of the Pentland Hills from my living room window, what a view!). It’s far enough for people to know you are not from Scotland and can clearly identify you are from the North East. I would be lying if I said no-one had commented on my accent, ha! Anyway, back to the blog which might contain some phrases here or there from the North East, but don’t worry, for those who don’t speak Mackem, I will explain them in my posts.
I decided back in early 2015 that I was on the hunt for this PhD, mainly as my internship supervisor had pointed me in this direction and after weeks of saying I wasn’t interested, I caved and told myself I was (I basically just lied to myself for a while). After discussing it with my fiancé, whose initial reaction was ‘when do we move there??’, I decided that I would apply and so I did. This time was different as nothing rested on whether I got it or not, only my own happiness. I did not need to apply to get me out of an unhappy job, or progress my current job in the careers sector and I most certainly wasn’t doing this for anyone else, just me. I wanted to apply as I have always ‘wanted’ to apply for a PhD but after two interviews and rejections (both competing for funding, which I did not get) I then decided I didn’t just want to apply, I was going to apply and make this one my last. Yeah okay, so I was a little disheartened by the two in the past but looking back, I don’t even think I would have enjoyed the PhD process if I had got either of them. The most shocking thing was that this PhD was unusual for me, and not a Psychology topic either, but I suppose that is what drew me to it. Its not about what kind of PhD you are doing or about the name of it, it is more about choosing one you think you will enjoy and are passionate about as with everything else, the finer details can be clarified by you along the way. For me, the passion came from my work as an Adviser at the National Careers Service combined with the stuff I had learned from my research internship. In combination, it was a match made in heaven to help me decide this PhD was for me (obviously, at that time I did not know I would get it).
I did not tell anyone about the application properly (except my internship supervisor) and only told them when I had an interview, mainly so I could focus on the application solely without anyone asking what I was doing and how it was coming along… this technique seems to work for me for major things, just like passing my driving test. I was probably worried about disapproval about it being far from home, having to relocate and leave a permanent job to become a student again, but I could not have asked for better support from friends, family and colleagues. Most importantly my mam, dad, sister and partner who bent over backwards to help me do this. Back home, my biggest supporters (who I love dearly and do miss every now and then) were my mam, dad and sister who helped us move to Edinburgh in record time, provided love, support and even took time off work to help us move. For this, I am forever thankful.
So, to cut a canny* long story short, here I am and have moved into a lovely little flat just around the corner from Edinburgh Napier University where I have just finished the first week of PhD life.
As my research suggests, I have started a PhD, but technically it’s not a PhD just yet. It won’t be a PhD until after my first annual review where my degree type is assessed and then if I prove myself worthy, and show that I have worked and that I can do it, then I will be working towards my PhD. Until then, I am a PhD student ‘in the making’ so just an ordinary research student for now.
Now in my first week (and a day – can’t forget the day!), I have had some ups and downs. I cannot say it has been the most fantastic thing since sliced bread was invented because it hasn’t. It has not been horrible, awful or off-putting…
It has, however, been a little scary, not so much how daunting it may feel soon when I get my teeth into the research planning and literature, but scary in the sense that it is something new, somewhere new. I am out of my comfort zone completely and I think I quite like it.
It may only be week one but I do feel a little more settled and it’s been a canny* week, more settled than the day when I left my family in the North East and cried my eyes out until I drove to Berwick (I was fine until the time I had to get into the car and drive off – these old films that make it look easy, they lie!). I have actually managed to meet most of my office and chat to them about what I am doing and where I am from etc, but most of all, they reassured me that I am not alone. Literally within the first few days, my fears of being on my own were prominent and maybe quite noticeable, but really, I’m in an office full of people on the same type of journey so if I have any problems, chances are, someone else probably has too. And after my first supervision meeting with my two supervisors, I really don’t feel on my own anymore. So from me, my advice is simple. For anyone who is starting a PhD, get to know your office folk and all of the folk that may be useful to you (like department and admin staff too – they’re all important people), talk to them and say hi. The worst thing in the world is feeling alone in a room full of people. I have also managed to meet all of the staff I need to too, and work out most of the practicalities with the help of my fellow PhD students (I’m being well looked after!) – I now have a desk, computer and emails which make me one happy person in the first instance. That is what I most fretted about before I started, wondering if everything would be ready and if I was prepared. It turns out that I worried over nothing at all and now I can focus on everything else. Let the work commence!!!
For now, that is it but I’m sure I will be posting more as I go through the journey of research and delight you with what I am learning and what I am finding most interesting.
*‘canny’ – North Eastern term for lengthy (also known as ‘nice’ or ‘pleasant’).