In which I start to build the next three years of my life

On October 1st 2014, I began my PhD studies.

I had a rough idea of what to expect, based on my friends’ experiences of doing PhDs, but all those ideas or expectations were thrown out the window as soon as I started.

In a week’s time, I managed to read three large NHS policy documents, compare them (crudely), and steer the project with help from my supervisors. I’ve also conducted scoping literature searches using various databases, and document all the citations for these. If you were to ask me if I could do that in a week’s time a few months ago, I would’ve said no.

The pace in which PhDs go is beyond me — and so far I have been riding the wave well (though I dare not speak too soon). What worries me is the impact this will have on people who might choose to undertake a PhD in the long run. There is surmounting pressure to complete PhDs in three years. Note that I come from a science background so the expectation might be completely different to someone who is doing a PhD in any other discipline. It is pretty scary to think about all the work that needs to be done, never mind having to do it well.

I am not sure if there I have any point to drive home here — but I just wanted to put into words what the last two weeks have been like for me. So far, I am still very much in love with what I do, and I am very grateful for the supervisory team that I have. If I am honest, I do feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that there is to do, and the pressures of the academic world, but at the same time I am also overjoyed to be in a position where I am allowed to freely explore my interests and my passions, and learn new things every day.

Two weeks in and I am still bloody amazed that I scored such an opportunity! If I’m dreaming, please never wake me up.

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