Greetings from Greece!

 

As you can see it’s really quite nice here and if it wasn’t for my long working hours and anxiety, it would be an absolute dream.

 

I know I said that I wouldn’t blog anymore, but I miscalculated the fact that by restricting myself from doing the things I like, I would be miserable. So even though I am still planning not to blog full time, I figured I could do one or two posts per month. Just for the joy of it!

 

Since my arrival I am doing nothing else than revising my experimental chapters and finalizing the discussion part. In case you’ve been wondering what I mean by an ‘experimental chapter‘ this is the chapter that I report the analysis of data from each of my experiments, and since each experiment makes a different chapter, we call them like this. The other chapters- where I describe methods and materials used in my research and I compare my research with past studies -are descriptive so I refer to them as chapters.

 

Since I have a few readers here who are Ph.D. students and are asking about my progress I thought I should write a quick post on how I’m doing so far. Lucy, Isabella, Freya, Catia, Sophie, Maria, Jean and Alexandra (hi girls!) this is for you.

 

Well first things first-writing my thesis while being in a sunny, beautiful country like Greece has helped with my positivity levels, A LOT! I am not a moody person and very rarely you will hear me moaning about the grey British weather, but trust me when you go through something as difficult as this, a bit of sunshine can get you further away than a cloudy sky.

 

As I am a night owl, I stay awaken writing up until 5 am and then wake up at 12 noon and keep writing. I find that while there is peace around me and I don’t hear any sounds I focus for longer periods without needing breaks.

 

The highlight of my days is walking by the beach every second day with my sister. For the first week I was going for a walk at the seafront almost everyday but as days go by quickly I limited this little luxury to an hour every second day. It’s the time I will walk and talk to my sister without feeling guilty that I am spending time. The sea smells deliciously and my skin has missed the sun’s stroke so much. Is it bad to say that I am not looking forward to coming back to Scotland?

 

I have noticed a real progress in my writing speed after the second week. Without trying to sound cheesy, I’ve always assumed that I am good at writing, I’ve been speaking English for half of my life years and I’ve been writing posts on Natbee’s for the past ten years almost on a daily basis. Writing pages after pages has not been a struggle BUT writing in a scientific way has definitely been a challenge. Sometimes it feels like the way I have to report my data is like speaking another language, but as time goes by I sort of know how to do it and I am getting there day by day.

 

There are days that my progress is going slowly, especially this past 3 days, but it is not because I am not working but rather because I have a ton of data that have so many different kind of correlations between them, that makes writing up overwhelming. There hasn’t been a day though that I haven’t made some progress, which is good of course and for this I am proud.

 

I have only seen my parents for two days which makes me feel guilty because we are for once in the same country and still not spending time. I promised to them that as soon as my Ph.D. is over I will go and visit them and spend sometime together, maybe even an entire week!

 

My sister has been my greatest support. Even though younger she has the wisdom of a 90 years old lady! She’s constantly encouraging me and reminding me how far I’ve reached in life. Which sounds cheesy but looking back in my pathway I think my twenties have definitely been a fruitful decade. Sometimes I feel a bit weird knowing that I no longer am a student, but some other times I cannot bloody wait for my graduation to hand in my student card and start living life as an adult.

 

In a final bit of Ph.D. news, I have almost finished writing up my experimental chapter 2, which is the biggest one of my entire project, so I am quite content. I am looking forward to submitting it to my supervisors tonight and not looking back. Even though who am I kidding, corrections will be there to be made, but for a while it won’t be in my head.

 

I’ll do a full blog post when the writing is done but here are some bits of advice I can offer:

-Make a quiet space in a room and tidy your desk everyday. Being organised and having a tidy space of work makes writing up flow.

-Let your family take care of you. I have been living on my own for the past twelve years, so it’s good for once not to worry about the grocery shopping or the cooking, doing the laundry and so on.

-Update your supervisors regularly. I am still struggling on this bit in case I annoy them, but I feel better after sending them an e-mail with my progress. At least they know how hard I am working and how is my progress so far.

-Keep backups of your work. Every night I save all my files in an external disk drive to have some peace of mind in case anything goes wrong.

-Try to stand up and walk every two hours. Since writing up my lower back experiences cramps and by night the pain is getting stronger. Walking, stretching and generally being a bit active (even if that means going to the bakery downstairs to buy another spinach pie) has definitely helped me ease the pain.

-Talk to people. No one really knows how hard a Ph.D. is unless they have been in your shoes. Which means that the majority of people have no clue what you are doing and they think that you are just studying. Reality is completely different, so speak to people who are researchers or students and know what you are experiencing. Sometimes sharing makes the worry less.

 

And that was it. Deadline is fast approaching and I am finally ready for this Ph.D. viva. Bring it on!

 

 

Anastasia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 Comments
  • Adriana
    May 25, 2017

    That’s a brilliant article. I am doing a MSc in Environmental Toxicology and I am about to start my research in the laboratory. I seem to think what I am doing is tough so good to know there are worse things 😛 Also my supervisor is trying to make me do a phd with her but I am not exactly sure this is what I want. Do you think you have more chances to get a job after your graduation?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Anastasia
      May 26, 2017

      Hi Adriana, thank you for your comment. I hope the MSc goes well and that you will enjoy your time working in the lab!
      As for what you asked, yes I do believe that many doors open after you get a Ph.D. however if you are not sure whether you want to do it or not my advice would be not to do it. There is so much work involved-especially in a lab based Ph.Ds-that is not worth the pain, agony and stress if you are unsure.

      I guess you have to see how your research goes and then make a decision for yourself.
      Good luck whatever you decide!x

  • Jean
    May 25, 2017

    Hey Anastasia, how is it going?
    Thank you so much for this article. I haven’t seen you posting anything on Instagram so checking here to see if all good.
    Glad to know you are doing progress day by day. I am submitting the thesis at the end of June and then hopefully having my viva after 3 weeks. Do you know who are your examiners?It helps if you study a few of their papers 😉

    Good luck!

    • Anastasia
      May 26, 2017

      Hi Jean, I am good thank you 🙂
      Ooh that’s too soon, but I guess the sooner the quicker you’ll be free of it!
      I don’t know who are my examiners yet, we haven’t done any discussions as such with my supervisors yet, however I know that they already have some names in mind. That’s an excellent idea, thanks for sharing.
      Good luck with your viva!x

  • Maria
    May 25, 2017

    Oh Ana, I so needed to read this. The PhD blues have hit me hard and I think I am falling behind constantly.
    It’s good to know that at least one of us is doing great 🙂 Keep the updates coming, I love reading posts as such.
    xoxo,
    Maria

    P.S: I love the part where you mention people think all we do is ‘studying’. Quite literally they have no f(*^ clue what writing a PhD thesis feels like.

    • Anastasia
      May 26, 2017

      Hi Maria,

      Please don’t say this and be hard with yourself. I am sure you are doing great. I read somewhere that intelligent people always think that they don’t do much or are worth a lot, and I think this might be the case with you at the moment.
      I can’t blog much during this period but I promise to write another update as soon as I can.

      You are absolutely right about people not knowing what we are doing but I dont blame them. For the majority of people being a student equals studying and since not many hold a Ph.D. it makes sense that they will never understand the degree of difficulty, I am not much bothered about it to be fair.

      Good luck with the writing xx

  • Lizzie
    May 27, 2017

    I was just looking through your Instagram feed- it’s so beautiful -and came here to find the reason of your online absence. I hope you are doing well with your research, I barely finished my Bachelors thesis (it took me ages and I hated it), so to me you are doing something impossible and something I wouldn’t even dare to enroll myself into.

    Looking forward to more insta shots from Greece please
    Kisses from Paris!
    Lizzie xox

    • Anastasia
      May 27, 2017

      Hi Lizzie,

      Thank you so much for your comment! It’s been a difficult period for me but I am looking forward to a happy autumn and loads of travelling in 2018!!! 🙂

      Kisses from Volos, Greece!

  • Maggie
    May 27, 2017

    Hi Anastasia, I found your blog through the #phdlife on Twitter and I’m hooked! I study Molecular Biology in Geneva and I’m in love with your blog and Instagram aesthetics. You have really motivated me to do a PhD and to start my own blog documenting it all the way! I couldn’t find anything on YouTube but have you ever vlogged about your PhD journey? I’d love to see a few behind the scenes in your laboratory. Thanks a lot!
    Maggie xx