Dondu Sarisen is a third year PhD student in Centre for Water System, CEMPS at the University of Exeter. After few years working in a company in Turkey, she decided to pursue her career in academia.
PhD is a love and passion rather than a pain! If you enjoy and love what you are doing, and if you trust yourself, you would never be put off by your mistakes and other people’s prejudices or misjudgements. On the contrary, you will learn from your experience to enlarge your capabilities.
Every one of us has different experiences, facing different challenges and different responsibilities. Some of us, including but not exclusively, are wives or husbands, mums or dads, international students or home students or professionals struggling with the burden of a daily job, with some handling simultaneously nearly of the roles I mentioned. I have been writing this blog in order to appeal to all of you, being in all hope that you will find useful.
I assume that the common question for all the readers of this blog post is “What it is like doing a PhD?.” I can only write based on my own experience and therefore I might be biased but you can all apply your critical thinking to make sense of the information presented here.
It is tough to decide where to begin talking about a PhD. Doing a PhD abroad in a 2nd language changed my life, contributed to my both personal and academic development.
I would like to start simply talking about “learning.” Human beings experience various pleasures in their life; the taste of learning is one of them. Contributing the broader body of knowledge is invaluable. In the PhD, you are learning, starting with general knowledge, and then diving into more specific information, you get to know every particularity related to your field. Additionally, the PhD is a big project where you are the manager. You are learning to manage everything including your time, social life, relationships, academic life, cleaning, shopping, etc. From the personal development aspect, you are learning to be patient, coping with failure, and dealing with being alone (for those of you having families, you will still spend a great amount of time alone for running experiments and performing research).
PhD helps with development of transferrable skills: problem solving, critical thinking, adaptability, teamwork, communication, writing, listening, creativity, attention to detail, so on so forth.
At The University of Exeter, you also have a chance to be a PTA (Postgraduate Teaching Assistants). Teaching is one of the best ways of learning. You also can learn from students during classes.
In summary, I have realised during my PhD that what you can achieve is even bigger than what you can imagine or even expect from yourself. When I say “achievement,” I do not only mean academic achievements. You can realise how strong and resilient you are as a person. These achievements bring happiness and joy to our lives and motivates us.