PhD Completion Experiences

This is an archive of some of my more popular posts about PhD experiences. If you’re currently on a PhD programme I hope you find something useful to take away from my experiences.

Thesis writing: a multi-taskers nightmare

Isolation activities: thesis writing and running

Day 68: Trying out 2 different writing activities

Post-submission thoughts 1: The last few weeks before submission

Post-submission thoughts 2: Viewing leisure as yet just another “to do list” item

I had my PhD viva, and I enjoyed it. There, I said it.

Viva questions: Examples from my personal experience

Birthday week firsts: Post-party energy, driving lessons and a chiropractor visit

It’s been a great week of birthday celebrations (yay to the October-born).  With all the changes that have happened this year, I found myself caught up at the start of this semester with the “must work all the time” kind of mentality that comes with starting a new job. Not surprisingly I found myself becoming quite anxious and mentally exhausted – not a good sign given I’ve got 8 weeks left to the semester.

However this week I’ve been reminded of what actually matters by just being around people. Especially people who want to party. Considering most of my social circle is comprised of language teachers and UK HE professionals, the need for a party runs pretty high. Not party in the sense of all-nighter, lock-in binge (not really my thing) but more grab a drink and chill. I mean actually having a conversation with friends you cross paths with on campus when you’re both on your way to teach your next class but barely have the time to say hello. I don’t think I realised how much I needed to sit and hang out with people until after the party, when I felt more energised than drained. As an extreme introvert this rarely happens, and was a reminder that focussing on work all the time does nothing for anyone’s mental health.

The rest of the week was filled with other awesome experiences: first driving lesson in the UK (I haven’t driven since 2002) and my first trip to the chiropractors to deal with my first lower back twang (running related *sigh*). OK so having lower back pain isn’t awesome but going to see a chiropractor was quite calming. In all this week has been a good reminder to take a step back from work and do some self-care, especially during your birthday week!

Re-learning how to run and teach

I’m about to start Week 3 of teaching and, if I’m honest, it’s been a painful learning curve. It’s not that I’ve forgotten how to teach, but I have forgotten how heavy the work load was. This semester I’m teaching five different classes and it is a struggle to keep on top of the planning and weekly marking. Two of the classes are English language related, two are undergraduate content modules and the last is a series of weekly workshops. Ok granted I’m not planning from scratch for 4 out of 5 of these modules but I’m finding using other people’s materials takes almost as much planning time.

It’s strange. When I’m teaching I really enjoy the experience (for the most part) but the time in-between it’s this relentless pressure. It’s quite different to doing a PhD but the toll it’s starting to take is a little surprising considering it’s only Week 3, but I suppose it’s all part of starting a new job in a new city.

On a similar note, I’ve started running again. Last weekend was my first long run since July and, well, the next two days were hellish on my lower back. Did stretch properly post-run? Yes! Did I warm up properly? Um, define proper. Did you think about your pace and try slowing down because this was the first run in months? Nope. Now, today when you went out for your 2nd long run in two weeks did you learn anything from last week? Nope.

And so here I am with an aching back and a partial lesson for my 9am class tomorrow. The joys of being back in the learner’s seat.