A Day In The Shoes Of A PhD Student:
“Research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing” quoted a very popular space architect. A theory not a single PhD student would deny.
When you commence your research as a PhD student, you fix on an exponentially degrading extraordinary goal in life.
World, here I come!
I want to win the Nobel prize, (after a year) I will revolutionise my field, (after 2 years) I will get a job at a top university, (after 3 years) I will do a couple of publications, (after 4 years) I will present my paper in that international conference (towards the end) I will get cheese burst before the offer expires…
Happy hour, Here I come!
Stuck in a maze of dismaying academic congruence, you patiently hope for a Degree – the PhD.
A typical day in the life of a PhD student is tailored to meet his current goal. Assuming you are a few years into research, your day begins as you snooze your mobile alarm for more than an hour. You wake up with a sudden realisation of time and drag yourself to lab promising yourself that you will shave the next day. As you pass your adviser’s room you silently peek to see if s/he has arrived (Praying hard Daily that he might be on leave).
You settle down in front of your computer completely ignoring the fact that your work-space looks like someone played dart on it with the contents of the trash can. You check your emails and skim the subjects for words like “Accepted”, “Invited” or “Congratulations”. Not finding any, you reluctantly search for journals and reference books to read. You start by staring at the contents page for as long as you can, looking Pretty heavily Depressed. You read, read and read (sometimes write, write and write). Many a time you are subjected to “the Pulsating hurling Disaster” when your adviser passes by. That is when you start typing junk at a very high key-in rate to pretend you are working hard.
After a few hours of admiring your screen, your period of getting frustrated, feeling stupid and walking around aimlessly begins. You bump into your adviser and s/he hands you the reddened copy of your draft for corrections. You get the 10 second urge to get back at your adviser, but then you realise that s/he controls your stipend, grade, graduation possibility, graduation date, job options and the rest of your life. You thank her/him and thank yourself for not saying something stupid. You walk back to your desk not able to decide if you need a hug, an XL coffee or 2 weeks of sleep. You Pound your head on your Desk trying to rewrite the draft. You realise that your vocabulary is now universally scattered with words like “problematic”, “ambiguous” and “uncertain”. Once done, you email your adviser with a polite greeting, multiple paragraphs and perfect grammar only to find yourself rewarded with an – “’Ok’- sent from my iPhone”. You pass the little time left running experiments. Then comes the instant you Permanently hold Dear- your adviser leaves, and you feel a sudden sense of freedom rush through your veins! This is when you sit back, relax and order food.
Apart from this daily routine, there are a few special moments that you land yourself in.
The “dreaded questions approaching” moment, when you meet someone new and they ask you – “How many papers have you published?” or “When do you finish?”. You respond by declaring how you are Proudly half Dead.
The “Pathetically headed Downhill” moment when you curse yourself for not saving or backing up important data.
The “Private house Detective” moment, when you have to relocate a file or document you used a few months back.
The “Probably hard to Describe” moment, when someone asks you to explain what your research is based on. Your inner voice goes – “How do I explain something that I can’t understand myself?”
Surrounded by a plethora of problems and overabundance of confusion, you wonder what you are doing with your life. But you are quick to realise that life is boring without challenges. The true test of creativity and intelligence lies in problem-solving. You imagine how joyous it would be on the graduation day when you would be Phinally Done!
Quickly, you put on your thinking hats and get back up on the track…
To discover, to learn, to invent and to achieve!
This was our account of a day in the life of a PhD student. However, ever wondered what it would be like to step into Richard Feynman’s shoes? Find out here.