Loneliness and Isolation during your PhD


Hi everyone, my first post here. I was just wondering if anyone else really struggles with loneliness and isolation whilst studying for your PhD? And if so do you have any tips or advice for overcoming it and for meeting other people while studying?

I think this is probably a particular problem for the Humanities because I only see my supervisor once a month and apart from that it's all private study. I also live at home with my parents in a different town to my university so I don't live with any other students either and meeting people is quite difficult. I tried joining some societies at the university but they're mostly full of undergrads who I don't seem to have much in common with anymore.

Any other suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


In case it is a possibility for you, moving in a shared flat could help. If you find nice flatmates you usually have at least two to three people you already know and that include you in activities with their friends from time to time if you get along well. Are there no activities specifically for PhD students organized by the University or the PhD students themselves? We have a lot of these things. It is usually combined with something academic e.g. one PhD student gives a talk about his/her research and then there are beers afterwards and people can chat.

But I guess many people have the same problem. The older you get, the harder to make new friends. Most people found their circle of friends that is not changing anymore making it harder to join as an outsider.


This is a common problem for PhD students. In your situation, I would look at socializing away from your PhD, something else all together. Do you have any other interests?

The easiest way to make friends is to get a job. Could you get a job or volunteer for half a day week? That may help build your social life and ease the isolation.


I am going through the same thing too and to add on that I am in a new country to do my Ph.D. far from family and friends and it only makes even harder and my roommates are not at all in socialising. I keep asking myself will I ever make it.


Yes. (That's the short answer).

It's a bit different for me as I'm often in the office (big office, so I see the other students fairly often) but it's strange because a lot of the time, although you're together, you're all working on different things so you don't always have things that you can talk about. I find it isolating that I can't just ask for an opinion on an idea for example (even with my supervisor) because generally nobody has the time/desire to listen to the preamble of explanation needed for the basis of the actual question.

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Choirs can be a lot of fun and very sociable.

This is very common... I started to crave team sports towards the end of my PhD. Totally out of character but my sense of isolation had become immense.


I'm in a similar position and live in a different town to my university, and the commute means it is just not feasible to do any social stuff there. I echo the advice given by others, to try to socialise with people outside of university. To be honest, as I've gone further through the PhD process (I'm now well into third year), I've just kind of resigned myself to the fact that this is a strange and isolating period in my life and it will come to a fairly quick end and hopefully I'll be back out working and talking to folk! Online groups can be useful for checking in with others who are experiencing some of the same things.


Does your University have a post-graduate society? If not perhaps you could start one, shouldn't take too much time/effort (it could just be a weekly coffee morning or meet up at your student union on Fridays), will look great on your CV and I'm sure you will find there are many people who feel the same way you do. If you are based in a city some have their own post-grad/PhD student societies as well. I think it's important to be able to talk to people going through the same thing as you so if these things don't work for you then chat to people online as others suggest.

I joined some recreational sports teams outside my uni too and made lots of friends that way. Try gomammoth or if you don't like sports then citysocializer. But by 2nd/3rd year I found that doing a PhD ate up all my time prevented me from have outside interests and friends. That's the nature of the beast I'm afraid!

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A couple of Phd students in my faculty have created a Facebook group for the doctoral candidates, which is also linked to a regular Friday writing meet up. So they searched and found us on Facebook and created an invitation, which most of us (part and full timers) seem to have taken up, and then those in the group who can, meet up for a solid 90 minutes of writing every Friday followed by coffee. It sounds great and honestly, if I didn't work full time (and crazy hours) I would love to join in the writing part. This might be a nice way to both meet people but also have a purpose to it.

You know, it helps provide a focus for a get together as you are just putting out 'feelers' initially for meeting fellow post grads, by seeking out other candidates who might be interested in improving their academic writing and productivity.

I don't think the writer's group promote themselves as experts. They just take their laptops along and write in a room together then finish with coffee and a chat.



I hope you are well.
The idea of socializing on facebook, discussing progress and status, issues-solving & mutual motivation is just a good idea.
I used to tchat with my best friend very years ago and motivate each other through msn and skype, exchange, correct to each other and we had the first grades at the university, not only this, we were the first ones to finish their BA thesis before the agreed term set by the supervisor.

Today, i am looking forward experiencing the same thing with students and motivated people.
Is there any volunteer?
Thank you in advance.

Looking foward to hearing from you.