Any tips for avoiding PhD isolation?


======= Date Modified 18 05 2008 14:05:02 =======
======= Date Modified 18 03 2008 14:03:46 =======
I am starting my PhD in October. Like most people starting out, I'm pretty nervous - particularly as I tend to be quite shy when it comes to meeting new people. I have confidence presenting myself in an academic sense, but I find the social aspect more challenging. This in mind, I just wanted some advice on how best to make sure I integrate with other students as, from what I can gather, it seems that PhD life can be lonely. Does anyone have any suggestions, advice, or personal experiences that they would be happy to share?


Make sure to set aside time to get OUT and do SOMETHING - you will find someone to talk to / someone who will talk to you..


Thanks phoenix6254. I'm not always good at that - sometimes it's easier to just hide away in the books - but am determined to try and get involved a bit more!


i made a point of going along to all "events" at the beginning. and i was surprised how many of my fellow 1st year students didn't!
so, i went to PhD parties, to reading groups, to drinks after classes, to lectures, to everything on the agenda really.
what happened was that after a month or two, everyone knew who i was and i knew people. that helped soooo much because then i could start talking to people "socially", outside of work.

so my advice would be: 1st phase, go to reading groups etc, and say something "academically". 2nd phase, start approaching people more personally. in no time at all, you'll be part of the group(s) and that's a good start for dealing with loneliness. however, it is an uphill fight and you'll have to keep coming up with new ways of fighting against or dealing with loneliness...


Thank you for your advice Shani. Sounds like a good idea. What nice people you all are on here. If only it was as easy in real life! Thanks again.


I'm at Birmingham at the moment, doing my MRes! In which field are you studying?

By and large, the Uni has a load of societies which are a good source to meet people. Although tbh their postgraduate society could do with a good kick up the backside. They have a seperate space but the damned thing is always locked. I joined RockSoc, its mostly undergrads but there are some postgrads and some sabbatical people. Its the most popular one besides the religious societies so if you're into that kind of music I would say thats a good source of new chums!

Birmingham also throws a LOT of postgraduate networking events so sign up for them as soon as you get the email, its a good way to meet other students in almost every field. There's also an induction course which AFAIK is compulsory for research skills, depending on the type of PhD you are doing (I doubt arts students need to know how to dispose of chemical waste! XD). So they do make sure the PhD students mingle.


On a more personal note, I know exactly how you feel. I have social anxiety disorder and I have been to counselling three times for it now, the counselling service here is rubbish if you ask me. :( Making friends has been really hard for me but once you get over the initial hurdle of speaking to people on a level besides course work it gets a lot easier. It is that first step that's the trouble though. I started French lessons here, the Uni provides language lessons. As you HAVE to talk in the sessions its gets conversations started for you and all students are eligible. Two PhD students attened the same class as me. :)

Anyways, congratulations on getting the PhD, Brum is an awesome place and I will miss it when I go. :(


======= Date Modified 18 Aug 2008 14:06:52 =======
======= Date Modified 18 Aug 2008 14:04:30 =======
Hey Mambocat,

thank you for your reply. I really appreciate your advice.

I can really relate to the things you say. It is difficult to feel involved and accepted if you're lacking in social confidence.

Best of luck with it all!