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Post-Viva Confusion?

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to put a few thoughts down and hoped others might relate to..well...Im not sure what it is but I'll call it 'Post-Viva Confusion'?

Essentially, I submitted couple months ago and did my viva last week (went very well and passed with minor corrections). But since the viva, I've just been feeling so weird and empty and confused, in a way I cant really explain, its kind like a big part of your life has just been taken from you? I guess its the realisation of not being a grad student anymore, having to think about the future, and all the stuff you didnt worry about too much during the PhD? Maybe also now knowing the PhD is officially over, it kinda feels like a part of you is missing in a way and youve got this big gap to fill? Ive got a job in the meantime (though not what i wanna do long-term) so I guess its good to be doing something, but I dunno, it feels like I miss the Phd!

I dont want to sound miserable! as overall I didnt find the writing up too stressful and ended up submitting a couple months before my deadline, so in all writing up wasnt a bad experience! (although the PhD certainly did have its miserable moments at times!). But did wonder if this Post-Viva Confusion was a common thing that others have experienced? and would be interesting to hear your stories!

all the best

Accomodation experiences for PhD

Hi phormulater,
I had the exact same thoughts as you when I was going to start my PhD! I think its definetely an important thing to consider, but from past experience of living in several different places during my phd i have to say it almost always ends up a happy experience!! I think it depends on what youre looking for? If you want to meet people, then definetely look for a flatshare with other grads, but if not then your own flat would be great for quiet and having your own space (and if youve got other grads in your office/dept then i am certain you will make friends there!). Though one thing i enjoyed with living with others is coming home after being in lab all day and having people there to chill out with and relax in front of the tv!

When I started I was moving to a completely new area and didnt know anyone, so first decided to move in a flatshare with 3 others (grad students) which was fantastic as it was an instant new group of friends. It also gives you the chance to meet the people you live with first and see if they are nice, which isnt really an option with halls.

I lived in postgrad halls too for a couple years - It was good (it wasnt as noisy/annoying etc like undergrad halls can be, maybe cause everyone is a bit older). But i actually found this more isolating than flatshares cause I was living with so many people (10 in a house) and there was no 'social area' as such so noone really interacted, everyone just stayed in their rooms. Although it depends on your unis accomodation situation and what they have available.

Looking back, I personally had better experience living in flatshares so I would say if youve had good flatshares in the past, why not try for another one!


EPSRC stipend instalment

Hey, I'm on EPSRC and I get paid in monthly instalments. Hope that helps!

Posters and QR codes

I did it once for a conference in the UK. It linked to a google site I set up with PDFs of the poster and reference papers. However, I only really remember one person commenting on it and scanning it. Lots of the...lets say...older generation didnt seem to know what it was.

Also, at a conference in Spain, I noticed some on posters, but heard people commenting they didnt want to scan in case it might incur mobile network charges (myself included).

If you do use one, dont do what I did and put it on the bottom - place it on the top of your poster, so its more visible and easier to scan! :)

Undergraduate nostalgia?

Hey Catalinbond, Podge and Twanky,

Sounds like you guys had an amazing time in your UG and Masters! :-) Its great you have good memories to hold onto!

Podge and Twanky, I didnt mean to worry you about PhD life with my post - its not all doom and gloom! I was also worried when i started that it would be isolating and lonely and that it would be hard to make friends, but one thing thats advantageous is that you will have a lab/office 'base' which to network and make friends with other PhDs (My labmates are awesome have become very close friends :-)). And I recommend joining one or two societies - especially a sports one - its an instant group of new friends, many of whom are there to make friends too, and will keep you occupied one or two nights a week and keep you fit and distracted from the PhD! Also, Podge, dont panic that you will have to work 24 hours a day - its true sometimes when you have lots of experiments or a report due, etc. you find yourself working many hours, in the lab or at home, but it comes in waves and most of the time you can easily get work done in 9-5 and have the evenings / weekends free (at least in my experience of a lab-based PhD)! :-).

Whereabouts are you guys starting your PhDs? (dont worry if you dont want to say!)


Undergraduate nostalgia?

Hi everyone,

So for the past week been feeling incredibly nostalgic (in a very good way) about my undergrad - the place, the people, the lifestyle, the freedom, the feelings of fear and excitement of moving away and making new friends, of partying all night, skipping lectures, of growing up. I started in '05 and graduated a couple of years ago. I've always had fond memories, but the past week or two the memories are getting stronger and more emotional and I dont know why. Can tell if its a good or a bad thing :$ Could be because PhD life is so completely different (for me, anyway) - I'm almost 2 years into the dreaded PhD :-(. Made me wonder, does anyone else get these fond, emotional memories of their undergrad days?

Love to hear all your thoughts!
all the best,

Your lessons learnt - what and how?

Hi Sparkles,

Great idea for a thread! Feels like a relief to know others make similar mistakes and that youre not the only one! Although not yet finished, I've already learnt some lessons I wished I knew before:
- Labelling things, as mentioned below, in a logical way would have saved so much time and work
- Planning experiments better and not rushing into them. Seriously, many times, sitting down for 5-10 mins planning would have saved hours, even days of work. Arrgghh!!!
- Networking within my dept - only starting to realise know that several members of my dept have expertise and skill in my area of research - to have netwroked more before and asked for help would have been so useful!
- Take time off!! I wish I had taken all the holidays I was entitled too and spent time away from here and the PhD. Dont let it take over your life!
- Dont be talked over by your sup - stand up for your work. You know more about your project than he/she does so dont let them push you over. And dont be afraid to question them.
- Also, I would have been much more open with my sup - make sure you are clear about what youre doing and that you go over everything important with them. Dont wait till 3-4 months down the line and they realise you are doing one small thing not to their liking and meaning you have to repeat things.

Well thats just the few I can think of now but certain there are many more!
All the best

Interview Tips

======= Date Modified 09 Aug 2011 23:20:12 =======
HI Kirstyvale,

Firstly congratulations on your interview!! Thats amazing and you have clearly worked hard to get it. Its unclear what level you are a t (Bsc, Phd ?). I worked initially as a technician and had an interview for this. I was asked primarily on my final year project and work experience. I found it helpful to have a printout of some slides summarising my final year project to explain to my interviewers, emphasising methods/techniques which I had learned and also work I had to do independently. I was also asked 'why do you want to be a technician' and 'do your qualifications not suit a higher level job?' so perhaps be prepared for those? Also was asked 'what is your proudest achievement in life' and 'if you were in a bar and had to explain your final year project?'. I hope that helps you, but to be honest most interviews are pretty straightforward! As long as you want the position you'll be fine! But best tip of all : Go to pub and have at least two pints before your interview - it will make the world of difference!! (trust me, it really does!!).

Best of luck and let us know how you get on!
seven xx:-)

New PhD Student-The Literature Review (Microbiology/Science Field)

Hello London28!

Sounds like you are really on track and preparing well!! You are clearly trying to learn as much as you can and prepare yourself which is great!! But personally, I think you are maybe thinking about too much too soon. At this stage, you should just be thinking about what you want to do and not worrying too much about the technical particulars (i.e plasmid availability - thats something to think about when you come round to doing the experiments). At the minute it should just be about theory and general ideas of your area - i.e. more general review papers about what your studying. Anyway thats my opinion (I'm a third year life science PhD) so hopefully that helps you!! :-)

procrastination special: favourite pop moments...

Great idea! Love all the videos posted so far - never get enough of Bowie. Heres my contribution of videos I enjoy watching recently to take mind of PhD:

A song from Talking Heads 'Stop Making Sense' concert - its hard to pick one as the whole concert is brilliant!

Ukuleles doing Ernio Morriconne

I think the recent Cadbury advert is brilliant, both the video and the song choice!:

And on the subject of Kate Bush love this!:

Enjoy and hope to see more posted! :)

The moaning thread

Im sorry for bumping this old-ish thread but its exactly what Ive been looking for to vent some frustration. I agree with pretty much every comment above.

I also HATE my PhD. 18 months in and the I cant think of one bit that I have enjoyed. I hate the long hours, I hate the reading, I hate the stress, I hate lying awake at night worrying about data and experiments, I hate the fact that undergrad friends are working steadily, travelling, partying, having babies, enjoying life and I spend my day counting cells.

I hate how my supervisor emails when I am on holiday then gets annoyed with me when I dont reply. Just STFU!

I hate Melody from The Apprentice - she's such a sly bugger.

I hate my house and housemates. I hate that they bang the doors and leave mess and dont socialise and cook omelettes almost every night. I hate omelettes.

I hate feeling guilty when Im watching TV at night and not working.

I hate my university town and that I live so far away from my hometown. Its such an isolating, lonely place. Ive made so few friends here compared to my undergraduate town it depresses me so much.

But most of all, I hate that everyone else around me seems to be having a great time :-(

Phew. Vent over. I'm sorry for spamming the the forum with my thoughts but please continue the thread and rant away below - does anyone feel the same? I promise writing it down will make you feel a teensy bit better!

PhD Working Hours & Responsibility

Hi Chinglnc!

That sounds like your have a pretty stern supervisor! Have your labmates/other PhDs also been told the same thing? It may also depend what stage of your PhD you are at.

(Note, The following is from my own personal experience/observations)

Unfortunately I think that 7 days working is not uncommon (at least in my experience) given that, in practice, the Laws on maximum working hours and minimum breaks tend not to extend to us lowly PhDs! Our supervisor has explicitly said to myself (and my labmates) that he expects us to work at least 9-6 daily as well as weekends, primarily because that is what he did during his PhD :-( . This seems to vary from sup to sup in our dept (Others have been told the same, others do not have to work wknds). In our first year we were also forbidden from doing any teaching/supervising/demonstrating (though in 2nd/3rd we are allowed). Our sups reasoning was that in 1st year we must focus solely on researching / learning, and leave teaching/supervising till 2nd/3rd yr (though I don't really get this myself as 2nd year has been immensely more busy than 1st!).

However, I think it's weird and very irresponsible that your sup won't let you do skills training - this is an important part of the PhD and is essential in many PhD programmes. What do the guidelines say for your dept?

I think first you should check your dept guidelines on skills training / teaching etc to make sure you are not missing out on essential courses. Also, are your labmates / other PhD students in your dept in the same position? It may be beneficial to express your feelings to your sup (if you havent already) so you make clear you are unhappy about this and see what they say. It may also help to drop a brief email to whomever acts as your 2nd sup / graduate officer, or the like. But, in the end, if your sup tells you to do / not to do something you generally just have to bite down and get on with it. Oh the joys of PhD life!!

Hope to hear back from you soon

Question for lab-based PhD students

Sounds exactly like my PhD routine too! I typically have to wait for cells to grow and if I dont have any ready I just end up pottering about. On these days I rypically I just stock up my lab bench, chat to labmates, browse the net, go for coffee (as well as reading papers and doing data analysis!). Though other days I am also pretty busy, like you working quite a few hours. :-)

Article request

Hi Emaa,

Here you go: http://rapidshare.com/files/440029502/Edwards_2010.pdf

Hopefully you can get this (just select 'free download') but if not let me know and I'll try something else. :-)

Best wishes,
seven :-)

N equals ? (including nifty poll vote)

So, had a little disagreement between me and my sup. I hoped I could get some more opinions on this (hence the nifty poll) :-)

If I presented you a graph of data from a biology investigation on the effect of a certain chemical on the growth of a species of insect (totally hypothetical, but just for example) and I said that for this graph, n=6, how would you interpret this? (Specifically, I mean the 'n=' part).

Turns out me and my sup had different ideas on what this meant and I'd be interested to know others thoughts.