The first year
I was lucky enough to know my department – at least the people within my division – but of course it's a intimidating experience to join a new department like that. One problem is that there's not much socialising with your graduate colleagues because our job is quite lonely. I know other departments where they are stricter about everyone being there to create a research environment. And that's a good thing, although you don't necessarily do your best work here just because this is where you've been admitted.
We're very lucky when it comes to supervision. We meet our supervisors and have research seminars every week. Once a semester we get the chance to present our subject and our problems in front of the whole senior research group. This is very valuable, and everyone gives good feedback although we're from different backgrounds. I could wish for more expertise within my area, but I get good advice anyway. You see, no-one is an expert on my subject and my field of research is not very well represented. I only have one colleague who has partly the same background as me (although writing from another angle), and no-one working on the same subject. I find it difficult being so new in a subject area, especially an area that's new itself.
Finally, the thesis work is definitely not the most prominent thing, at least not yet. In the first semester we have introductory courses. This autumn I took part-time courses, did some teaching and took a course in educational methods. It's easy to neglect the thesis and you have to be aware of this and reserve a couple of days a week for the thesis work in order to get anywhere. Otherwise it's easy to “just read this article first and then get round to the thesis”, but there'll always be other things to do. I've started reserving two days a week for thesis work and that feels good.
Female graduate student
Last updated: 2009-11-10