65+ work hours a week??!


Last Oct 2010 my girlfriend got accepted to start her Phd in march 2011. Her phd professors asked her to start coming in to the dept to help out and get accustomed to phd life...

Strangely, she has to go in everyday at 9am and she leaves at 10pm. When she's there she doesn't really do anything, but she isn't allowed to leave. We have been having problems recently because of the amount of time she's spending there... it seems unnecessary and excessive to me... that's 65hours a week already without taking weekends into account. most importantly is that her phd hasn't even started yet.

The only time I get to see her now on the weekends is late late nights -around 11pm. and most of her weekends are all taken up with extra phd related things her professors rope her into.

I've read elsewhere on this forum that the average work hours is 9-5 or 30-40 a week... She's doing more than 65... The other posters on this forum say that partners should be patient and understanding... but I feel like our relationship has been reduced to a couple hours a week.
Am I right to be angry?


That sounds utterly ridiculous. Yes you are right to be angry but she needs to put her foot down - yes, some weeks, that may be normal but it should be the exception rather than the rule.

Sounds like the professors have seen her as a quick and easy way to get their own things done. On the flipside, it's nice to show willingness and eagerness, but there has to come a point where it doesn't cross into being taken advantage of.


You are right to be angry but more than that your girlfriend should be as mad as hell. 

I know its difficult being new, is this the norm of the Uni ? Is everyone there til 10pm.. what on earth are they doing ?    Have none of them got families etc ?

She really needs to set some ground rules around this, she has to speak up and leave at a reasonable time. If she needs to have an excuse she could state public transport timetable or something.. but that is awful and will only continue if its not stopped now.   You wonder if its some sort of test to see what she's made of.. like some olde school initiation caper... unforgivable, especially when they'll know how she'll be keen to fit in..  God I'm angry now too.  Put simply, its bullying.

Please help your girlfriend by being angry together,  come up with a plan. I fear / suspect others on here may have experienced something similar and be able to come up with concrete advice. 

All the best, Chuff


Are you sure she is at uni until 10pm? Or could she be elsewhere? Maybe it's because I'm a naturally suspicious person, but I can't imagine who would be forcing her to stay there until 10pm- are the people making her stay there also staying until 10pm? I can't imagine supervisors being at uni that late! It all sounds a little odd to me.

Avatar for sneaks

You say she's not getting anything done? can she actually work at uni?

If I were doing these hours its because I'm rubbish at working at uni. I'd probably do 9-5 and not get ANYTHING done, and then have to stay until 10pm (when people have gone home and its quieter) to catch up on the work I pretended to do all day.

Is this the case? if so maybe she can ask to work at home a few days a week, or adjust her hours slightly?


If she doesn't start until March then presumably she isn't getting paid to be there. In which case she shouldn't be. Those hours are ridiculous by any standards, work or PhD student alike. And it doesn't sound like she falls in either camp.

It doesn't take long to get into PhD life (trust me, I've done this twice!). She could easily have done that in March. There is absolutely no need to be going in beforehand.


I'm not suspicious of her cheating on me or anything like that, but I do feel like she is being taken advantage of by her phd. The part that I hate most about it is that she feels dutiful to go everyday for that time, as if it's normal... She says that she isn't smart and she needs her teams help. so by never saying no her peers to respect her for her loyalty and sacrifice and help her when she needs it. She says that she has no choice in her schedule and that she is already seeing me as much as she can.

I've been reduced to that guy that doesn't even ask when she has time for us... and instead waits for her beckoning. And in those late nights when she comes in, we literally talk for about 20 mins, have sex, and then she goes to sleep. the next morning she's gone at 7am. Recently when we were having sex, I suddenly felt like I was servicing her like she was a customer. What kind of relationship is this?

We had light hearted conversation about it last night... I have to return back to England at the end of Feb and her course starts in March.
I asked her,
Me: if I stayed for another year what do you think would happen to us?
Her: we would separate. but, wait for me for 3 years and we can be together again
Me: 3 years will change us both...
Her: I will wait for you.
Me: ...I think in the next 3 years it will be difficult for you to find a boy that will understand your Phd life. If your Phd hasn't even started now and you are already staying 9am-10pm...
Her: I know... but my father has arranged it, after 3 years of this life they will make me a professor at the university. I have to do it.
Me: ....I have 6 weeks left with you. Your Phd hasn't even started yet but you are spending your whole life there. this past weekend you said you had time for us, but then your professors called you in on Saturday and Sunday. I felt like I barely got to see you.
Her: don't be angry.
Me: I think if I, or any other guy you were with, asked you to choose between us or your Phd, I know what your answer would be.
Her: (silence).

I am leaving the country soon and the reality of our lives are forcing us apart. After writing this out it has become more clear to me that despite us saying that we love each other, maybe we don't. At least, I can no longer say that I love her the way that I used to, and I guess her love for me has always been different from what I've been giving...

What should I do? Bottom line is that I still want to see her, but as my time draws near, I'm increasingly more angry and bitter that she isn't taking the necessary steps to maximise my remaining weeks. I do enjoy the sex... but as I have more sex with her, the more empty the love making feels.


Btw...here is a little back story for those who care to read about it...
I'm 25. I've been teaching English in an elementary school in South Korea and I've decided to return to England. My girlfriend is 26. She was a top 10 tennis player in Korea. She's recently quit tennis and her dad organised her into this Phd position studying sports social science. After reading about all your experiences on this forum about PHd life, it seems that the Koreans do it differently. at least this Phd course that my gf is on.

This is her daily routine.
5am/7am: she wakes up early to teach tennis,
930am: heads into school. she reads a book or talks to her friends.
12pm she has lunch with her team.
1:30pm she returns. at this point she will either chat to her peers, read a book, go to sleep, take a shower, facebooking, or all the professors will want to play tennis with her.
6-7pm she goes to dinner with her team.
and 7-10pm i don't know what she's doing.

intermittently and randomly without notice, a splurge of work will come from her professors. At that point she has to help out. everything including weekends and time with me are cancelled.

so basically she spends all day chilling, and gossiping to her friends.

Dating a phd student is worse than dating a doctor.


Sounds like she feels obliged to stick around that long wasting her time, maybe to give a good impression to her Prof. Considering she doesn't start until March 2011, 65 hours a week (heck even 40 hours) seems excessive. Maybe she needs to discuss her schedule and expectations with her Prof. For you, if not for herself.


This seems to me like a really stupid routine.

Compare this to my own.

Get to work at about 9-9:30.

maybe have the occasional 10 minute tea break, often whilst reading research papers

Half an hour for lunch between 12:00 and 1:00

work in afternoon, occasional 10 minute tea break, often whilst reading research papers

6-7:00 go home, mostly I can't really concentrate much after this anyway.

Why don't you simply tell your gf to just re-structure her time according to what is required to get the job done? and still leaves time for you to spend some time together. Her current routine both consumes all her time, and achieves very little productive output from what I can see.

I appreciate you are living in a very diffrent culture, but you could point out that by not taking 1h 30 minutes for lunch, playing tennis with professors, or arseing around/sleeping in the afternoon she could do 9-5 and have time for other stuff. Also i don't like the whole idea of her dad "arranging" fo her to be a professor after 3 years of this. University is about finding your own way, not simply jumping through hoops and relying on family connections.

I'd simply walk away from this relationship, you have every right to be angry


The guy whop sits opposite me in my office is Korean and we've chatted about work practices before. In Korea it is basically the case that you are expected to be in work before your boss and leave after. It's just the culture. Most work at least a few Saturdays and getting home at 10pm is not unusual.

If you have a boss who works until 10 then you work until ten past ten. If your boss goes home early then you might be able to (but this would be very rare!). I would therefore suggest that this routine is not going to change in the near future (i.e. until she's finished) and if she does then become a professor there is no reason to assume it will be all that different then (especially after 3 years of working in that culture).

My advice is that if you're not happy now, leave. This will be a lot easier than leaving later.


Thanks for your great advice everybody. Korean work culture is really different. Some study showed that Koreans work on average the most hours a year in the world. That's not to say that they spend their time at work effectively.

I talked to her today and I told her I couldn't spend my remaining time waiting for her. The waiting builds up my resentment towards her and I don't want that. She understood but she knows that she can't change anything. So, I've split up with her. It's like taking in a breath of fresh air. I still love her, but in a way, I feel free. I don't need to adapt my life around her crazy korean phd schedule anymore. I feel free!!!