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flack 1 star member
Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 11:07pm
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 at 10:27pm
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Thread: Jury duty during a PhD?

posted
14-Mar-12, 22:15
by flack 1 star member
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posted about 6 years ago
Ta- I'd give you a Helpful User vote but it looks like I can only do it once per user! Hope you get that fifth star before too long ;)

Thread: Jury duty during a PhD?

posted
14-Mar-12, 22:07
by flack 1 star member
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posted about 6 years ago
I'm in lab-based biomedical research but I'm still not sure that would excuse me, especially as it's basic rather than translational. Also If I absolutely have to do it I'd much rather get it out of the way in the next twelve months and then not have to worry about it for the following five years, and be safe in the knowledge that I wouldn't have to abandon this opportunity for work with our overseas collaborators in 2013!

Knowing nothing about Scottish law isn't helping (I'm originally from Wales and lived in England for a long time) but I'm just hoping I get a relatively straightforward case which doesn't drag on...

Thread: Jury duty during a PhD?

posted
14-Mar-12, 21:44
by flack 1 star member
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posted about 6 years ago
I am five months into my PhD and have just had a letter notifying me that I may be selected for jury duty in the Scottish High Court or Sheriff Court in the next twelve months, with just a few weeks' notice. Normally I wouldn't mind doing it but with just two years and seven months to finish the PhD I really don't want to get dragged away from my work right now. Reading the notes it looks like I'm not eligible to defer or to decline, is there anything I can do at all?

...or am I lucky? There's a chance I could be off work for the usual 10-14 days, and both the Sheriff Court and High Court are near my home and near the lab I work in, so I won't need to commute, but I'm concerned that I'll be selected for a trial which lasts a bit longer. I could defer for 12 months, but there's also the opportunity to spend part of my PhD abroad in 2013 and that would be an opportunity too good to miss.

I'm going to talk to my supervisor about this tomorrow, does anyone have any suggestions for what we should be discussing?

Thread: Unsupportive family

posted
13-Nov-11, 18:47
by flack 1 star member
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posted about 7 years ago
Thanks Skig- I'm not remotely religious but I've always found that prayer to be good advice. It's taken me a long time to accept that my family will never change and there is nothing I can do to earn their respect as they are determined not to respect me.

Ian- it's a long and boring story, but my sister forged my signature on the guarantor form for her flat, then fell behind with the rent payments- I found out when I got a call threatening me with legal action! I protested that I'd never heard of the estate agents in question and I must have seemed very shocked as the lady on the phone asked "actually can I just check- did you agree to be her guarantor again?This *is* your signature isn't it?" I was very lucky they did ask... and the "again" just told me she'd done it at least twice! My sister then called me and begged me to sign the form or she'd be evicted but I just told her she could sort the mess out herself. She sorted it somehow but as my family are always telling me I need to "look after" my poor little 28-year-old sister she could easily have poisoned them against me over this- and she's already tried it once before.

I've already blocked them all on Facebook (which can't have helped their opinion of me either) and I'm looking into phone upgrades- I'm due one and I may as well change providers and get a new number while I'm at it. I won't be initiating contact, I've tried and now I've given up and the ball's in their court. They only seem to get in touch when they want something so I'll see if they can be bothered when they don't.

Starting this new chapter- turning 30, starting a PhD and moving to a new city- has really helped and I'm sure things will continue to improve. Just a few minutes ago I had a lovely text from one of my more supportive friends and I keep being reminded of who my real friends are. Thanks everyone, you've been really supportive here and I hope this thread has been of some use to others in the same boat. People in my lab think it's weird that I won't be seeing my family at christmas and I know it's always good to talk to people who understand that not everyone is lucky enough to have their family's support.

Thread: which type are you?

posted
12-Nov-11, 21:42
edited about 22 seconds later
by flack 1 star member
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posted about 7 years ago
I'm definitely a 2, but they should have added another sentence to say "and wants to strangle any student who tells them 'I hate my PhD, I want a job'" ;) I could be a bit of a 3- I'm not an eccentric but I wouldn't want to work anywhere but academia now.

I think my MSc supervisor would say I was a 6 as, in his words, I "f***ing love" my subject area. I wonder if he wrote that on my PhD reference ;)

Thread: Unsupportive family

posted
10-Nov-11, 20:19
by flack 1 star member
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posted about 7 years ago
======= Date Modified 10 Nov 2011 20:26:14 =======
Thanks for all the replies everyone, I've got a bit of an update: I've been here almost a month now and my family haven't attempted to contact me once since I moved. I have a horrible feeling my sister really has poisoned them against me (long story- earlier this year I cut her off after she did something unforgiveable involving a forged signature and me getting threatened with bailiffs, and even before that she had treated me badly for her entire life), and in any case my aunt never answered the text where I asked what the problem was so I'll probably never know.

I was also getting annoyed seeing my family's photos popping up on Facebook all the time, and seeing how much more they were in contact with my sister, especially when they were congratulating her for getting a new job in a cafe... she's got a stop-gap job and they're proud of her, while they don't care about me achieving one of my ambitions and getting what is pretty much my dream job! It wasn't doing me much good so I blocked the lot of them.

I haven't given any of them my new address (I can't give it to my sister as she just used my old address to commit fraud and I can't trust her not to do it again) and I'm thinking of changing my number. Mackem Beefy- thanks for your "hard line" post, and there's no need to apologise- I actually find it refreshing not to hear the same old "but surely they must love you deep down?" lines from friends urging me to avoid cutting them off. I think I'll give them until christmas and if I hear nothing by then I'll change my number- then again maybe I should do it now and avoid any further heartache!

I've been having counselling here and it was good to just hear someone agree that my family aren't good for me and cutting them off may be better than letting them go on upsetting me. I've realised that I'm not asking them for much- I'm not even asking for *love* here, all I want is a bit of respect but they're not even prepared to give me that.

At the same time I haven't been lonely- I've been lucky to already have friends in my new city and I'm meeting lots of new people. My friends back in London have kept in touch and are making plans to visit. I'll just make sure I appreciate them and continue spending time with the people who do love and respect me, rather than those who would prefer to hold me back.

Thread: Feeling inadequate

posted
10-Nov-11, 20:03
by flack 1 star member
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posted about 7 years ago
I'm four weeks into my PhD, and while I'm mostly loving it, there are some days when I get an almost overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. I felt the same at the start of my MSc project and I expected it with the PhD but there's a bit more to it this time round. I'm using a new model organism and while the techniques have the same names and the same end result the protocols are completely different. I did my MSc project in a tiny new group- just me and the PI- and now I'm doing my PhD in a massive lab group and being supervised mostly by postdocs and technicians. I only had a year between my MSc and PhD but I'm surprised and embarrassed at how much basic stuff I'd forgotten and I'm convinced people here must think I'm an imbecile who keeps getting under their feet while they're trying to work. I'm also writing a literature review and am aware that while there are some papers I've read and understood well, with others I'll get to the end and realise I've understood nothing at all.

I understand this is normal (isn't it?) and that I'll probably be feeling like this at several points... but how long does it take for the initial feelings of clumsiness, incompetence and inadequacy to subside a little?

Thread: Unsupportive family

posted
09-Oct-11, 12:55
edited about 28 seconds later
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
======= Date Modified 09 Oct 2011 12:59:27 =======
Thanks for the replies everyone- and sorry for the rant, I'm not after pity here, I was just a bit stunned at my aunt's suggestion that I tell her my news via Facebook- it's not quite up there with dumping someone by fax but I'd still prefer to babble excitedly about my news over the phone, and to hear my family's thoughts.

As for the idea that my parents would be proud- thanks for the reasurrance, but to be honest they probably wouldn't:

Quote From eska:

I really feel for you. I can relate because my family are not always supportive and I have often - in the past - felt that same fear of being at an important event - possibly my graduation -without them. I didn't go to my Masters graduation for this reason. My parents work in education so they do understand what I am doing, but there is a lot of jealousy, especially from my mother, and at times it seems as if she is deliberately trying to disrupt my progress. I don't go to her for support and encouragment because she'd see that as an opportunity to put the boot in. However, there are plenty of other people in my life who have my best interests at heart and who are always there when I need them. I suspect you have that too.


Thanks Eska, this is my situation, pretty much. There are no other academics in my family and I'm the only scientist- what I do isn't any harder than what my sister, a humanities graduate, does (in fact I very much doubt I could have scraped a pass in her degree) but it's still me who gets the "oh you think you're so bloody clever" jibes. It's like they're trying to "ground" me, and insultingly assuming I need grounding- like many (most?) PhD students I'm more familiar with crippling self-doubts than with feeling overly self-assured!

Ribenagirl- I think that "not knowing what a PhD is" thing may be part of it too- I meet enough people who are surprised when I tell them mine will be a paid and (more than) full-time job! Like you my mother just expected me to get married and have children and be a good housewife, but like you said it is a generational thing as that's just what women were once expected to do- even "affable-looking housewife" Dorothy Hodgkin!

TwankyPhD, you're right, I'm not jealous here: while my family aren't close, this also means I have nothing holding me back- not everyone has the freedom to change careers and move 500 miles so really I'm lucky.

Long ago I realised my family are impossible to please, but I guess I've had a hard time believing and accepting it 100%. It's sad moving all that way and starting a new phase of my life without their backing but I'm now seeing it as a turning point. I've also got some amazing friends who are really happy for me- as Daisy from Spaced once said, friends are the family of the 21st Century, and maybe she was right!

Big thanks everyone- I feel better having slept on this and woken up to your replies, you've all really helped and I shall keep you posted.

Thread: Unsupportive family

posted
09-Oct-11, 00:43
edited about 29 seconds later
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
...for the rant, but I'm feeling so alone right now when I should be feeling elated. Can anyone else relate?

Thread: Unsupportive family

posted
09-Oct-11, 00:39
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
I've read a few posts here from PhD students struggling with unsupportive partners, but has anyone else here had the same problem with family? Right now I'm trying to cope with learning that my family are totally unbothered about me starting a PhD:

A bit of background: I'm 30, my parents are both dead, and the only surviving member of my family is my younger sister, with whom I don't get on for various reasons. Apart from her my closest relatives are my mum's younger brother and his family.

I got my PhD offer almost a month ago, and ever since I have been trying to break the news to my family, but have failed. First of all my uncle picked up the phone and I told him "I've got some news: I'm moving to Edinburgh..." but he interrupted with "you can't come home for christmas this year as we're going away, bye" and hung up on me. I then tried to call my aunt on her mobile but she didn't answer, so I texted her to say I had some important news, and she then texted me to say she had a sore throat and couldn't talk... and the next time she was going out... and the next time the landline phone was broken (although it wasn't when my uncle picked it up) and the next time she was too busy... by this time I realised I had been trying to contact them for ten whole days, so I texted to say "look, this is important, please pick up the phone" and she replied to ask if I could just send the news in a Facebook message to my cousin instead...

At this point I just lost it and texted back to say "why can't you spare just five minutes? Forget it, this is important but you obviously don't care". I also asked why she kept making excuses not to talk to me, and why her husband had hung up on me, but I've heard nothing from her since.

It's just made me sad- my family have never been close but just a "congratulations" or "we're happy for you" would have been nice- instead they haven't even given me five minutes to tell them what I'm doing. I'm moving 500 miles and they don't even care. I know they have a few inverse snobbery issues- I recently learned they call me "The Posh One" behind my back, and I've been taunted with "oh you think you're so bloody clever don't you?" for doing a Neuroscience MSc, it's all so unfair and I just wish they didn't behave like they were ashamed of me.

Registering with uni just keeps reminding me- every time I'm asked for my next-of-kin contact details, or for permission to discuss my fees with a parent or guardian... I feel like I don't have a family anymore.

My friends have been amazingly supportive- one of them, despite being extremely busy, dropped everything to come and meet me for a celebratory drink, and when I think about that and the idea that retired family members couldn't even give me five minutes on the phone just makes me angry. Despite having wonderful friends and a big leaving do planned I'm still feeling strangely alone- I'm having visions of being alone at my graduation, with no-one to feel proud of me but myself.

Sorry

Thread: Moving to a new city for a PhD

posted
07-Oct-11, 00:05
edited about 15 seconds later
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
Time for an update I think: I bookmarked a load of estate agents in Google Maps on my iPhone, then I booked two nights in a hostel so I could spend two days running round them all (and cursing the iPhone 3's battery life), and the third day hopefully putting down a holding deposit with one of them. Amazingly this actually went to plan and I managed to secure a nice flat within walking distance of the lab I'll be working in.

I'll soon be going up to collect the keys and drop off some of my stuff, before returning to London and coming straight back with the rest of my stuff in the removal van! It's a bit mad (not to mention expensive with all of those East Coast rail fares booked at short notice) but there seems to be no quicker or more convenient way, and I met a few other PhD students at flat viewings who were doing pretty much the same thing as me. It was good to get feedback on the best estate agents and property managers too- I managed to avoid one after hearing too many horror stories about them letting dodgy run-down "student flats" and never bothering to do any maintenance.

Tey- thanks again for recommending Student Movers, their Medium van service seems perfect for the amount of stuff I have so I booked it, and at a very reasonable rate too.

Thinking about how my attempts at moving house have gone before this seems to have gone suspiciously smoothly and I'm still waiting for some problem to come along at the last minute. If it all goes to plan I'll be in the lab the morning after moving and I'm looking forward to returning to my natural habitat. Right now I'm trying to get my packing done nice and early so I can have a little time to relax and be lazy ahead of three years of solid work, but at the same time I can't wait for the real hard work to begin. Thanks for the advice everyone, I will try and post some updates on how this whole move goes...

Thread: Coming out as a PhD?

posted
25-Sep-11, 14:09
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
======= Date Modified 25 Sep 2011 14:14:51 =======
======= Date Modified 25 Sep 2011 14:09:57 =======
Quote From dontforget:

I've kind of known this for many years, but only in the past year-ish have I finally come to accept it. I havent told anyone. Funny thing is, if anyone was to ask me (even my parents) I would have no problem admitting 'Yeah, I'm gay'. its not been a big issue but I wonder if my PhD would have gone better if I had come out earlier.


If this is the case then you couldn't have come out earlier because you weren't sure, and coming out when you weren't ready could have made things worse, so try not to beat yourself up about it. You know you're ready now and getting to that point is an accomplishment in itself.

As for what happens now you *are* ready: in general LGBT people I've worked with have seemed much happier and more relaxed after coming out at work- and the same goes for the heterosexual staff they work with. I've told LGBT friends before: you can't go through life acting on the assumption that everyone is a bigot, and diffusing that tension can be better for everyone. I experienced this myself when a colleague finally spat out what I'd known all along and our work relationship improved no end. I had a comparable experience with a close family member- I'd had a strong inkling and we got on much better afterwards.

All that said, how gay-friendly is your workplace and your field? In my last department being LGBT was no big deal, but you may not be so lucky and could have good reasons to proceed with caution. Do you have any reasons to believe people won't be supportive? Does your institution have measures in place to protect and support LGBT staff and students? Are negative reactions likely, and would you be in a position to deal with them, given how much stress you're under now?

You say you don't have long to go- how long is long? If you're going to spend a year writing up it may be worth getting your news out there now, but if you can see yourself moving on soon and, for example, starting a postdoc position in a new city with a new group of friends and colleagues, you might want to use that as the "turning point"- there's a reason a lot of people come out when they start uni.

I'm not gay myself so I'm not going to pretend I can relate, I just wanted to tell you you're not alone, and reactions are likely to be more positive than you think. Good luck whatever you decide to do.

Thread: Moving to a new city for a PhD

posted
23-Sep-11, 21:18
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
Tey- I'm moving to Edinburgh, there's a huge number of estate agents there and their terms seem to vary wildly, just as they do with estate agents in London. The University sent me a list of recommended agents but some of them seem less than student-friendly, and one a friend recommended to me which isn't on the list seems like just what I need- the agent I spoke to today said I'd be classed as a "professional" rather than a student, and that the letter with my studentship details would count as a one of the two references they need.

There is also the option of the uni's own accommodation but it's too pricey to be a long-term option... I know I'll sort this somehow but I won't be able to stop stressing until I do!

Thread: Starting out- TEETHING PROBLEMS?

posted
23-Sep-11, 20:51
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
Just as I was worrying about finding a flat on my own, you've reminded me why the alternative would be far, far worse! I moved into my own place at 23 and haven't shared with anyone since, and 25 was certainly too old for me to consider sharing again. As someone who also had difficulty working in my lab's noisy shared office and preferred writing at home I wouldn't want to go back to sharing for my PhD.

Good luck with sorting out some less stressful living arrangements!

Thread: Moving to a new city for a PhD

posted
23-Sep-11, 20:39
edited about 14 seconds later
by flack 1 star member
Avatar for flack
posted about 7 years ago
Thanks for the link Tey- I think that may be the company I used last time I moved house (from one part of London to another part of London) so I may try them again.

I've been on the phone to a few estate agents this week and have had some mixed responses- I've found some have no problems accepting students with funding and only ask for a couple of references, while others seem to be doing all they can to put students off approaching them in the first place, such as asking for four references and a guarantor. One site I looked at even had a tick box on the form next to the words "tick this box if you are a student"- unsurprisingly repeating the search without ticking the box brought up more properties described as "would suit professional", which appears to be code for "students not welcome"

I have my formal offer now and my proof of income from the funding body, so I have booked a few days in a hotel for next week and will be going round a big list of estate agents. In the worst case I suppose I could pay upfront for a six month let and then move again... am I being pessimistic or do estate agents generally take a dim view of PhD students?
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