PhD Diaries: Induction

Loughborough University

This post marks the beginning of a new phase in my life. I’m officially a PhD student at Loughborough University and yesterday was Induction day.

Apparently, schooling at Loughborough University is a big deal. When I put in my Research proposal, I had no idea. It has been a university since 1966 and dates back to 1909 and is currently ranked top 10 by The Complete University Guide, The Guardian and The Times and The Sunday Times, and internationally recognised for its sports-related achievements. This school won University of the Year 2019 in The Times and Sunday Times University Good University Guide and is the only university to have won the title twice! It was also named the best school in the UK for student experience (for the 5th time) in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey(2018), and these are just some of its most recent awards. Guys, I’m as close to Ivy league as it gets😂!

I didn’t know all of this, to be honest, I was searching for a PhD studentship with funding for African students in a topic I was interested in and that was it. I should do a blog post on How to write a good PhD proposal. If you would like one, let me know in the comments section. Getting in here was no easy task. The application, interview, meeting the conditional requirements, differing my admission, all of which were so stressful, there were many times I thought I wouldn’t make it. The uncertainty I had to endure over the past 4 months is stuff for a whole other post. But, my new supervisor was supportive and I’m here now.

Induction Day started with a little embarrassment because not only did I arrive late due to traffic, I couldn’t find the venue. The thing with being late in traffic here is, you can’t get off and take Okada. There’s just nothing you can do besides sending an apologetic email to inform the appropriate persons of your situation. When I finally got there, I found the right building but the numbering of rooms in Brockington Building is a mystery, worse it is connected to another building (Scofield) and so I was properly lost on day one. You know that feeling when you peep through the glass door to find that everyone is seated and looking serious and you the late-comer who is going to distract them? Yes, despite waking early and catching the right bus, that was me on Day 1. Thankfully, this beautiful lady (let’s call her N) with lustrous long hair spotted me and beckoned me in. I took a step back, worked up the courage, walked in the room and dived in the first empty chair I could reach. Gosh, it felt like miles away. Then, I discovered that my new hat which I had hurriedly put on as I left my flat still had the Boardman’s label dangling on it.

School of Business and Economics

The School of Business and Economics Team were incredible informing us about the structure of the PhD program and the expectations of the school at every level: R1, R2, R3. To equip us for this challenge there will be a Research training session in 2 weeks after which we will need to submit a 3,500-word report which will be graded and will determine if we will proceed. Apparently people do fail PhDs, they are few but they are there.

We got a tour of the PhD study area with the kitchen, lockers and amenities. I wasn’t impressed with the computer study room. It’s large with about 50 computers where everyone comes and uses anyone. Other PhDs in other schools, get their desk and their computer in an office of about 2-10 people. I don’t see myself spending much time there but who knows?

There are about 14 of us in my group, some really young like 21ish and others has telling grey hair and facial lines, I think I’m somewhere in the middle. Most are parents and 2 of which have 6 kids. I’m starting to feel left out when everyone around me has kids. Not that I want or can afford one but I find that I can’t relate, much less to having 6! I have the utmost respect regardless.

Ah, there were two other black African women in my PhD group which made me quite happy, not that I really mind being the only black woman in the room, but those situations happen a lot here. It’s just a good feeling knowing that my people are out here struggling with me if that makes any sense.

Oh, and there was food. Well, not food in the African sense, finger foods: sandwiches, wraps cakes. I had so much, I didn’t need dinner. I felt bad that the organiser threw away the excess, hell, I almost screamed. Usually, things like these are left in the kitchen or common area and emails are sent to other groups that there’s food in the kitchen if anyone is interested.

The Takeaways were:

  1. Taking the bus is not a reliable option for 9am meetings even though it is 40% cheaper than using the train
  2. I have a lot of academic work to do this year so time management is key to being successful
  3. I may have bitten more than I can chew but I’m going to have to find a way to swallow it
  4. The University and the Doctoral College will provide as much support as is possible to see we pull through
  5. Dr. Red in 3-4 years.

That’s it!

Are you doing a PhD? How are you finding it? Any advice for me?
Let me know in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading!

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