the blogging postgrad

Life as a PhD Student

Edinburgh: The City of Endless Attractions

I absolutely love this city. I couldn’t  have asked for a more perfect place to live in whilst I’m studying for my PhD. This city is so vibrant and breath-taking, not to mention the Scots are so friendly regardless of who you are (well…maybe if you don’t have the right change for the bus after not doing your research on the buses and you have a queue of people huffing to get on with their ridacards).

But in all seriousness, this is an amazing place to live, visit and explore.

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Chorizo, Halloumi and Sweet Potato Delight

Definitely not getting any points on presentation, but on taste, this wins!

I mentioned that I adored this recipe that I tried out in my post last week. I actually found this recipe from the Twisted Facebook page. I’ve added some modifications, primarily because the amount of salt and oil they place into their food is insane.

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5 Positive Things- Week 2

1. My second driving lesson went really well again! So well, that my instructor wants to bring my test forward a month! I actually can’t wait to go car shopping and hang up my bus pass!!

2. I finally managed to sit down on Friday and finish the introduction on my paper. I also polished up the experimental section. I was finding it so hard to get back into the routine of writing academically but I’m so proud of myself as the introduction was what I wanted to finish before the week was out. I’ve still got quite a way to go before it’s finished but it’s getting there.

3. I made the best meal ever on Wednesday. Chorizo and halloumi sweet potato hash, it was so delicious I can’t stop thinking about it.

4. My gas bill came in about £70 less than what I thought. Win for me!

5. I managed to complete everything on my to do list for the entire week- I get in such a grump with myself if I don’t so I treated myself to a TV day on Saturday (BTW RIVERDALE?! – GO WATCH I’M GRIPPED!)

Postgrad Rambles #9

Maybe this thread should been called ‘POSTGRAD RAGES.’ I don’t usually get pissed off easily and it’s often that I’m annoyed with an undergraduate student for some reason or other but actually wanting to hurl them out of a window doesn’t come along very often.

It took my almost 48 hours to calm down after I realised that one student had gone behind my back to my supervisor when I’d already told her I would take care of the problem.

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5 Positive Things


I’ve decided that I need to try and pick out and focus on the positives at the end of each week. I think this a good idea for me because I am definitely someone who dwells on the negatives that have happened, demotivating me from any work and puts me in one hell of a sour mood!

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Postgrad Rambles #8

So, the first week back was hectic as expected. However, I managed not one but two, (yes two, people!) meetings with my supervisor, which proved to be fruitful and motivating. We’ve discussed a lot of the work I’ve done and the direction of the work that will be making up my final two thesis chapters so I’m excited to get started on that. I’ve also been given the go ahead to start writing up the manuscript for my first paper since we’ve finally managed to discuss what data will fit into what paper. I feel much more optimistic about going into work this week than I did last week- and it just reiterates the point that I made in my last post. It’s important to meet with your supervisor regularly.

I’ve also managed to get the lab back to together (finally!). All the instruments are back up and running so hopefully they’ll be no more delays with the progress of work for myself. I’ve got a list of things to do a mile long between my work and the absolute waste of time course I’ve had to sign up to for my extra hours. I really hope it doesn’t affect my ability to keep motivated and do my work.

I’ve also managed to relax this weekend in between food shopping and doing some seriously cleaning, dust had collected in the three weeks I was home! I’ve been quite happy with how I’ve handled the juggling of work and free time for myself this week, but on reflection perhaps this is just because the first week might be lighter than the rest. Nonetheless, I’ll have to keep reminding myself to take some time to just chill.

Another huge development was that I had my first driving lesson this week….and now my instructor thinks it’s achievable for me to pass by April. We booked the test at the end of my first lesson whilst sat in his car. That was something I definitely didn’t think would happen this week! I genuinely thought I wouldn’t be thinking about that test until June/July. With that in mind my bank account is now weeping, seriously, I mean like tsunami levels of water. I’ve had to upfront costs for 20 hours of lessons plus the test, in between paying of my usual bills, rent, phone, TV license, bus pass, etc.. and now I’m looking at trying to reduce my food bill for the week until my next stipend comes in and my pay check for extra demonstrating (which I am now so thankful for!)

I know I’ll be paying catch up over the next couple of months for this, because I’ll have a nice hefty gas bill next month too. So hopefully with reducing my food bill £15-20 each week by shopping at Aldi and only buying what I plan meals for, I should be able to recuperate costs that way and not feel such a pinch.

Here’s so keeping a happy mindset and eating on a budget for the next few months!

Tips for Surviving the First Year of your PhD

I don’t feel like my word is the gospel on a PhD, everyone has a different experience and perspective on how they handle their PhD. It’s all about what works best for you, what gets you through the days, months and several years you’re pouring your heart, soul and brain into a great achievement.

I hope I can provide a little insight on the small things that I’ve learnt through the first year of my PhD. I should also disclaim that I’m a chemistry PhD student, so some of these are more related to that field of study rather than generic PhD advice.

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PhD: Jet set, go…..No?

A big part of my decision for me to carry on studying was because I knew I had a love for research and it’s the only thing I can see myself doing. I love being in a lab, I enjoy the gritty work. As frustrating as it can be every time you try something that doesn’t work, but nothing beats that feeling when things finally begin to fall into place, the experiment starts to work and the results are promising.

I know a PhD doesn’t automatically mean a job at the end (something that keeps me up at night, thinking about how I could be as just as unemployed with six letters after my name as I could have been at the end of my undergraduate degree) and I know just as well that I could have got a job in a lab after my Masters. But after enjoying my masters research project so much and at the motivation of my supervisor, I decided to pursue a PhD.

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The ‘Extra’ Hours

When I got my PhD offer and the inevitable welcome pack, I noticed a section that said, “80 hours extra curricular activity towards your PhD,” aka 80 hours I have to take out of my academic year to put towards enhancing my research skills, presenting my work and the like.

I wasn’t immediately opposed to this. I thought 80 hours a year wasn’t much and I assumed I would have lots of opportunities to make this time up. Well, my first year, yes 100% correct.

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