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International students' experiences


I'm interested in hearing from international students (doesn't matter which country you're from or currently based in) about what the challenges of moving country and culture have been for you, how it affected you, and and how you coped. For example, were there challenges with language, socialising and meeting new people, study situations not being what you expected, finding somewhere to live, mental health concerns...

In what ways were you challenged, and what did you have to change about yourself to cope? How tough was it?

The reason I ask is that I'm potentially going to move to another country and am in preparation I'm interested in hearing from others about any challenges or difficulties, and what happened (ie., if you resolved it and got through, how you did it, or did you return home, and what was returning home like...etc).

I would really love to hear from anyone that is willing to share their experiences and insights :)

PhD and lack of social life

Hello, I can relate to this, and am sorry to hear you're feeling this way, I know how hard it can be.

I think it's great that you are aware of it and recognising that it could get worse, so hopefully you have the chance now to change things a bit and prevent that.

It's definitely a good idea to get out of the house...I would also recommend getting out of the house to exercise regularly, even just going for a walk. It also sounds like you will need to reach out to others in some ways to build up a social network other than that at work...are there any group activities (team sports, or art classes, language classes etc) you can think of that you might like to take up? Are there any factors for you that make this difficult (e.g., money, time, distance, etc)?

Feeling inadequate for research

Does anyone feel like they are too dumb to pursue a career in research? I constantly feel inadequate compared to other students, it seems that every other student is brighter, quicker, and grasps things more easily than I do. I know we are told not to compare ourselves with others, but a certain amount of benchmarking is sometimes necessary to know where you stand in relation to your peers and whether you are competitive in job markets. I think (and have always thought so really) that I am just slow to comprehend things fully, and slow to produce work. Even in my post-doc I’m finding that masters students are almost leaving me behind, in terms of keeping on top of the discussion in meetings, quick recall of information, etc.

I just wonder if there’s a real future for me when research jobs and TT are so competitive, and I think am probably quite mediocre in my capabilities. I see other people’s CVs and they are miles ahead in terms of output (e.g, more publications), awards, etc. I don’t think mediocrity will cut it, and I don’t know whether I should almost quit before I waste too much time in research.

Can anyone relate and have you had similar thoughts about your potential in the field?

Anyone found a mistake in their submitted thesis?

Have submitted the final thesis and found a very simple mistake in a table that let to an incorrect conclusion (not a major conclusion, but a minor, inconsequential conclusion, certainly not a main finding). The error was not detected by two panels of reviewers, my supervisors or myself (until just now, I was the one to discover it). My dilemma is what to do about it - realising that no thesis is ever perfect, should I notify my supervisor and contact the university and try to find out if there is some way to correct the lodged thesis...or let it go? Am in such turmoil over this. Part of me thinks that if no one noticed up to this point, then maybe I can let it go, on the other hand, I hate that I now know that it exists in my final thesis, and worry that if anyone actually reads that section, it will be noticed. Anyone been in this situaton? Any advice appreciated.

Help - nervous break down

Hello, am so sorry you are feeling this way. I felt this way too (and still do at times, even though I have submitted - now I'm in a postdoc and the pressure of that and probably not taking a break is not doing me well).

How is your relationship with your supervisor? If you have already talked to them about the experiments, can you tell us more about what has been their response? Are they caring, sympathetic, offering guidance/advice at all to help you to get through, or have they been relatively unsupportive? Do you feel comfortable to talk to them about how you're feeling? I know it will be hard, but I really think it could help, and that you need to change something of what you are doing right now, because continuing in this way will only produce the same results and feelings that you are experiencing. Talking to your supervisor, telling them completely honestly where you are at in terms of progress, etc, will allow the opportunity to create a realistic plan for how to get past this.

Please post back if you can so we can keep working on ideas :)

regression in simple words

But how do you do that - how do you actually hold the other variables constant? I don't understand the process...

Can anyone please tell me?

Anyone else intimidated by very high achievers?

Silly post maybe, but I am really intimidated by people who are very bright and high achieving and can't help but compare myself and feel inadequate. I'm talking about for example the Rhodes Scholar or Fullbright scholar types, or those with university medals and doing a PhD while also making outstanding contributions to the community and founding and directing their own charity organisations and working at a very high level. Does anyone else also feel this? How on earth do I feel adequate when I struggle just to get through the Phd?! I think they are just people who are at a whole other level beyond me... :s

Feeling lonely at work

Thank you everyone for your kind replies. I haven't just started though, I'm past mid-way. Other new students seem to have integrated in the clique (been accepted and talked to by the other 'older' students) better than I have, and I've been there longer. I don't know, I think I'm socially awkward and a bit niaive, and I just don't really fit in. I think I'm a bit behind in my development or something. I've always been a bit this way i guess (introverted only child might have something to do with it). I just hate feeling like I don't even really matter or like I never have anything of value to say (even though I try to). I have some friends (not a group, but other friends) outside of uni (I've always liked being able to have a different perspective), and when things get to me, I try to just brush it off or not let it bother me, but it's hard to keep doing that. And now I feel like I've just made myself overly sensitive about the situation and I won't be able to get past it. Anyway. Thank you again.

Feeling lonely at work

I feel lonely all the time and I know I have horrible insecurities. I find some relationships with fellow postgrad students difficult (not overtly - just me feeling uncomfortable) because I compare myself to them, and I often feel inadequate. I am more introverted and quiet, though I always try to make the effort to talk to others, say hello, be friendly and complimentary. I find it doesn't really get returned, in that people always seem to be closer to each other than they are to me, and they don't really come to me at all - I always have to make the effort with pretty much everyone, otherwise I won't really get talked to. It leaves me feeling very invisible, and hurt sometimes. Many of the other students are very extroverted, and I find it tiring and annoying (it seems attention-seeking, which I hate), and some of them I don't trust. There are more specific examples of being 'overlooked', but I won't go into detail here. I think the extroverted students feed off each other somehow, and I feel like I get left behind and generally left out. My question I guess is, is this something that I just have to get over? Does anyone else feel like this? I don't want to be perceived by others as weird or not having any value to anyone, but I feel maybe this is happening. I don't know what to think, sometimes I'm just in a bad place (like now), and it's worse during those times than others. Anyway, perhaps more than anything right now I just needed to vent... thank you for listening. Tomorrow is a new day, right?

Structure of Supervision


I'm a full-time student so a little different, but I have weekly meetings (sometimes less often though, depending on availability and where I was at with the work tasks), and email in between as needed. Written drafts were produced by the next meeting, which was either in a week's time or arranged at a time that was suitable if a week was too soon/too far ahead.

The meetings were mainly me going over where i was at, giving update on tasks and saying what i was working and doing at the time, and what we would have for the next meeting. Also prioritised questions and asked anything that i needed answers on to progress.

In hindsight, to get more out of this process i probably would have done agendas more formally and rigidly - ie just made the whole thing more formalised, and really pinpointed timelines for tasks rather than just working on them as much as possible as quickly as possible. I hope that makes sense.

Very interested to hear about other experiences in relation to this, I've wondered about the same thing, as supervision seems to be an individual thing and as a student you don't really get to see or hear other's experiences to compare your own and know if yours is 'normal' or not. I probably should have asked more about it with other students!

Another article request +suicidal thoughts :(

Hi Rhea2011

I'm sorry that you're feeling this way. Even though I relate to what you're saying, I really don't know what I could possibly say that could help you, other than that I encourage you to talk to someone that you can trust about this. I did (my boyfriend), and it actually helped even though I didn't really want to say anything about it and didn't think that I would get anything out of talking about it anyway, and hadn't really had much benefit in talking to uni counsellors previously (though previous discussions were about the broader issues). It hasn't been the absolute answer, but it made it more manageable somehow, or gave me some relief.

Please post back and let us know how you're doing, or pm me - I'd really like to know how you're going. Your topic sounds difficult (far more than mine! :p) and I'm sure there is no reason to doubt your capacity. I'm sure you have very high standards for yourself, which of course would prob be contributing to the problem, and I think that there's hope even though you don't feel it right now. But talking to someone might help you move to a place where you might be able to feel it.

Keep going, and please keep in touch xx :)

Methodology driving me mad - need help

I could be totally misunderstanding, but could you use crosstabs in SPSS this instance? For example, crosstabulating to find the number of people who had a desire for local food and also have online channel preference. You can then also perform post-hoc tests of significance (selection of which depends on how many categories you have etc).

So that way you're identifying your 'core group' of consumers, if you like, who have both the the desire for local food and online channel preference.

This is part of what I am doing in my thesis (another topic)...it seemed to be ok for my supervisor.

Does that make sense?

Would be great if someone else could help out and chime in as to whether my idea would be right or not in this case :)

research assistant

Have you tried all of your contacts that you have in research already (i.e. word of mouth)? I obtained my RA position when I was still an undergrad looking for some volunteer work at a research centre to see what the world of research was like, by asking one of my undergrad lecturers whether she knew of anyone that I might be able to assist. She emailed my CV to the university academic staff and I was offered a job by another academic who read the email.

Not sure if things still work like this, but might be worth a try, in conjunction with your other methods??

Information request ..urgent help

Hello, I'm not going to be able to tell you the answer, but as you need to be sure about it, I think the only thing you can do is ask them directly. The studentship could be implied by your being assigned to the subject, and maybe they are covering the tuition fees, but as they don't say that anywhere (based on what you've said), I think that you need to go back to the department/research centre and ask if the assignment means that you have been awarded the studentship.

I hope I haven't misunderstood your situation - please post back if I have and I will try to help :)

Haven't even started and already feel dejected.

I agree with others on here, in that unfortunately, as long as you are a 'student', you will be viewed and treated as a 'student', and the nature of the degree won't matter to anyone. On the paper, you are a student.

Annoying, but that's life.

Aside from having other opportunities to improve one's (financial) situation (benefit of family support or whatever), the best anyone can do is get the degree over with as soon as possible, IMHO.