An upcoming guilt-free holiday

In about 2 weeks I’ll be taking my first holiday in about 4 years and I mean the first proper going-away-to-a-different-location-for-an-extended-time kind of break and I am very, very excited. Well I will be. I suppose at the moment (at the time of writing this) I’m feeling rather frayed.

It dawned on me that during my PhD I didn’t actually take any holiday. I was entitled to annual leave but I mostly spent my summers working. Or thinking about working. Or spending the few days I did take off feeling like I should be working and compensating by taking work with me and doing bits here and there when I could. Taking work along during your holiday isn’t a  holiday and I knew it. Working at this kind of pace for years on end is bound to take it’s toll.

Post-PhD life has been a strange adjustment. It seemed normal to me to be working all the time and it’s taken me at least a year to accept the fact that I can relax. It’s also taken a lot of time and effort to learn how to take a break. It sounds absurd to think that one needs to learn how to relax. I suppose it’s a new kind of normal that I’m learning about.

So I am looking forward to taking my first guilt-free holiday from work and it is going to be very liberating.

Post-PhD blogging hiatus is over (for now)!

Yes, it has been quite a few months since my last post. It’s been a strange time and getting used to this post-PhD life has been quite the challenge, simply because life is complicated in the most interesting ways.

I’m just over one year into my post as a Researcher Developer and it is only now that I feel like I’m actually getting to grips with what I’m doing. The switch from focusing on one research project (e.g. my thesis) to juggling several projects simultaneously hasn’t been an easy transition and I can’t say that I’m entirely comfortable handling different projects on the go. I prefer to have one main focus but at the moment, that’s more a luxury than reality.

More on this, and on other musing on my post-PhD life will be coming up!

End of an era: PhD graduation

The last five months have been rather eventful, with everything happening at the same time:

March: I submitted my thesis corrections which were approved by external examiners. I then submitted the final version of my thesis to the university.

Early April: I completed my first, full marathon (26.2 miles / 42 km) in 5 hours 13 minutes, then blogged about it HERE.

Late April: I started  a job at The University of Manchester!

July: My parents visited me in the UK and witnessed me graduate from my PhD programme wearing a Tudor bonnet and medieval robes! While they were here we travelled to Sweden and visited family that we haven’t seen for years.

August: Had laser eye surgery. Now I can see without the aid of contact or glasses. This was my graduation gift to myself and something that I had been planning to do for quite a while. I also changed my bank cards to say “Dr”!

Whew. It’s a lot of process. I’ve already blogged a little about the expectations I had for my post-PhD life, but now I’d like to backtrack and say a little about graduating. Now there is something very final about graduation ceremonies. Everything up to this point – submitting the thesis, the viva, then submitting corrections – was an end in themselves, but they never felt like THE end.  I felt I didn’t really have a PhD.

The graduation ceremony, on the other hand, is an event that publicly marks one’s successful academic achievement by conferring a degree. With awesome robes. My last graduation ceremony was my high school graduation. I remember the giddiness of feeling so ‘adult’ and ‘ready for life’ or something along those lines (it was a a long time ago)! My PhD graduation was far from feeling ‘grown up’, but was more like a very solid sense of achievement. A “Yes, I made it!” kind of moment, a swell of confidence in myself, and a sense of closure. A proper “I’m done now.” finality to my PhD journey. For me there was no sadness or emptiness on graduation day but a lasting memory of feeling very, very good.

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