It’s official: from 1st October, almost exactly seven years after submitting my MA dissertation, I will be a student again. I’m starting a part-time PhD. Writing it down makes it feel very real! I know this is going to be completely different to both my undergraduate degree and my masters – for a start, it will take longer than both of them combined, and I’ll be working full-time alongside studying – but that’s part of what makes it exciting. I’m planning to do the occasional blog about my experiences as a doctoral student, so let’s start at the very beginning…
Why am I doing it?
Quite simply, I’m doing it because I want to. I’m curious and I want to develop as a researcher. I’m passionate about my thesis (more about that another time) and ready for the challenge of returning to academia. I’ve got great support, both at home and at the university, and the time feels right. This is something I’ve been thinking about, on and off, for a couple of years, and I can’t think of any reason not to do it! I honestly don’t know where a PhD might take me in the future, but I’m certain I will learn a lot and that it will lead to new experiences and opportunities.
How do I feel?
Right now I feel excited, but that’s tempered with what I hope is a healthy dose of nervous anticipation. I definitely didn’t take the decision to apply for a PhD lightly: there are obviously financial implications, and I know it’s going to be intense studying and working simultaneously. Nevertheless, after discussing it with my husband, parents, colleagues and friends (including several who have completed PhDs themselves) I decided that the time for dithering was over. As one wise friend said, ‘you’re only here once, so why not?’ and he’s quite right. The fact that my supervisors seem to like the project is hugely encouraging and although there will undoubtedly be times of stress and self-doubt along the way, it’s great to be starting with positive vibes.
Here we go…
I’ve rearranged my little office room at home. My husband has offered to do both the cooking and the washing up on week nights to give me more time to read (he’s a good’un) and even though this is always my busiest time of year at work, I know that if I can get into an evening and weekend study routine between now and Christmas, I’ll be in good stead. This is a new chapter (how long will the first PhD chapter take, I wonder?), a big challenge, and six years is a long time. Who knows what else might happen along the way? But I’m ready, and I’m determined.
Wish me luck!