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Job vs Living with husband?

Hi there, sorry to bring this one back from the dead. But I've just found myself in this exact situation (although gender is reversed - I'm male!). I am suffering extreme discordance about the near future.

I've just accepted a post doc for 3 years in my field, but it's 1.5-2 hrs away from where my partner lives. I'm really not sure how the long distance thing will work out for us. Should I ditch the job and stay put (can't really afford this), or commute (not sure I could drive 3-4 hrs a day!!)? Oh dear, I'm in a pickle, what to do, what to do? I moved into her house a while ago,  she's mortgaged and we have talked about moving to a new town equidistant to our work, but there'll be a time where we'll be apart.

Any more words of advice on how to juggle life in academia with a serious relationship? Sometimes I think the only way is to get out of academia!?

Why Now?

Just read an interesting story on the BBC regarding the milking of cows - Cash Cows.

So my question is, why have they bothered mentioning this now? Surely everyone has known for the last 10-15 years that international $tudent$ are just brought in for the extra cash. Another animal bolting and a door shutting spring to mind here.

I wonder how long it will take for the reputation of British universities to be undermined? The whole situation is almost reminiscent of the financial market, companies trading falsely upon undeserved reputations.

Moving somewhere new and making friends

Hi Dan,

Must admit, I'm in a similar position. I've joined a sports club and have met a few people there. Although I wouldn't say I hang out with them exactly. I tend to force myself upon people at tea breaks at work (figuratively!) and then get chatting. Slowly I seem to be meeting interesting people. For sure, it's much more difficult to meet new friends when you're not at uni. I've found I have to be quite forward in order to get invited places, which is sometimes a little daunting.

Patience seems to be the key to good friendships.

arghh help needed!urgent

Have you tried getting a relevant review article from PubMed? Often the textbooks take their info from those reviews.

menswear to interview

From my experience a clean, ironed shirt, nice shoes and formal (ish) trousers are all that is required. Although, obviously it depends on the context of the interview.

Good luck on the day. (up)

Ta Da! It's over

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to leave a little note to say I had my viva yesterday and it was a brilliant experience (yes really!).

Like any sane human I was quite nervous leading up to the actual event, and felt oh-so-pale immediately before entering the office where I'd be "interviewed".

The first question was about the general principles of the field, actually stuff that I learnt from my undergraduate degree, I genuinely thought it may have been a trick question at first! But it was just to put me at ease and get the juices flowing. Both examiners were very patient and helpful while I stuttered some well known tenets of science at them and then we dissected my intro, which resulted a nice chat about what is currently going on in the field.

The rest of the viva followed on like a pleasant, albeit constructively critical and frank, appraisal of my work. I couldn't believe how quickly time passed, we'd been talking for an 1.5 hours before we got onto the nitty-gritty of my results. Overall, it went on for nearly four (enjoyable) hours. Although, by about 3 hours in I was feeling a tad tired (that is a slight understatement- I was shattered!).

My advice for expectant vivaees would be to get used to talking about all aspects of your subject, either through honest technical discussions with your colleagues or general layman chit chat when people ask what your research is about.

I don't think there is anything that can stop one from feeling nervous prior to the viva, but rest assured it really isn't that scary. In actual fact it is a great opportunity to talk about your ideas with some experts you haven't met properly. You can use it as a sounding board for future research/ideas you may be cooking up too!

Anyway, I was planning to use today to do corrections. But I think I might go for a walk, read a chapter of my book, have a cup of tea etc. and then might start with correcting those blasted spelling mistakes (how on earth do they manage to avoid my beady eye?!)

To anyone preparing for the viva, may the force be with you! 8-)

Completely off topic - going on a date!

Walminskipeasuker has hit the nail on the head for most of it.

My big tip, and not in a negative way, is to not build up the "idea" of the "date". Think of it as an exciting event for you to do in the evening that involves someone else (who may or may not be wonderful). I always found I got a lot more enjoyment out of dates when they were less formal and more about seeing something or doing something; that way both of you can relax and it takes the direct focus off each other. I went on a date (with my fantastic long suffering girlfriend) to a free photography exhibition, the exhibition turned out to be naff and it gave us something to talk/laugh about, then I plied her with sherry and the rest is history...

Top tip!! Don't go to a chain resturant, it shows a lack of initiative


Good Luck!

Are we just cheaper research assistants?

No, I don't think PhD students are cheap RAs, maybe expensive work placement students and by the end cheap technicians.

It seems treatment of PhD students varies wildly, I was basically left alone for three years - Treated more like an afterthought than a member of any group or department. Sounds like your sup is still relatively interested in you, which is brilliant, definitely ride that wave. Don't fret too much about reading constantly, when you've got some data you'll start synthesising your own ideas and start challenging the literature. Good luck and enjoy! (up)


Definitely possible. Keep up the motivation levels and you should be fine. And remember, don't change horses midstream, play to your hot streaks, and if things aren't happening do something completely different (like some exercise or going for a coffee with someone) and then come back to it!

The first couple of chapters took me quite a while, but once I got into the swing of things I was getting a first draft done in a fortnight.

Good luck. (up)

personal statement

No, you should be able to do this for yourself.

However, if you are willing to pay me a small sum I would consider helping you. ;-)

The Upbeat Thread!

Hi all, just wanted to let you know that being a post-doc is great and I thoroughly recommend it. I'd be interested to hear about positive things that have happened since starting your post doc. Save the negativity for other threads. Sure things are challenging, but that's what makes them enjoyable!! :p

For me: I've been made H&S manager for the lab after 4 months, started writing a review (writing is still a struggle!), and made some nice new friends. Living in a new city is quite interesting - when I get time away from the lab :-)

Also, what is everybody researching? I moved into a similar but different field, so in effect was starting anew. Lots of reading! But the slight shift has definitely reignited my passion for all things scientific.

Post-doc Chat

Well, the biggest difference I've found is that it's a lot like what I remember real work to be like!

By that I mean, I am treated as an equal, my ideas are listened to and discussed in a rational manner, and I feel like I can make a difference in the work I do. Glad I stuck on in there with the Ph.D.

Is it worth to self fund a phd?

I wouldn't bother. Save the money and use it to do something that makes you truely happy.

I don't think you'll earn the money back any easier with a PhD either. It seems to me that I'd be earning about as much as I do now if I had just knuckled down and worked in a job for four years, instead of taking the time out to do a Ph.D.

Post-doc Chat

Right on Cleverclogs!

I beginning to wonder if I was ever that depressed. It's truely amazing how time heals; the longer I stay away from my previous supervisor the happier I become.

Although I suspect that the fact I'm pulling in lovely pieces of eight once a month has something to do with it too. Also, I am no longer working in the scientific equivalent of a shed, which is nice.