The life of a PhD Student is a roller-coaster of ups and downs, hopes and disappointments, turbulent months alternating with weeks of peace and quiet.
Kind of like the British weather.
And much like the British weather, it warrants its own separate macrocosm of discussion over tea, cake or on the Internet.
Sure enough, my first look on Twitter quickly revealed a world full of wonder, creative chaos and an occasional sense of doom (see:#phdchat, #phdlife). The heart-warming takeaway is this: whether you are a prospective or current PhD student, whether you are determined, confused or curious, there are many other smart cookies like yourself out there, just waiting to welcome you into their ranks. Just follow the trail of crumbs to @PhDForum and @AcademicChatter, the resident supportive communities discussing news, relevant issues, debates and achievements on the higher education front.
It is here that one might find out what brightens the typical PhD day (it’s usually either normally distributed data or toddler-friendly stationary that you can’t accidentally swallow) and what apocalyptic calamity might send a man or woman into despair (running out of chores to be done in lieu of writing your dissertation).
It was surprisingly uplifting to hang out in this ‘area’ of the web space, actually. A scroll through the relevant feeds revealed many inspirational voices, pictures of ‘PhD survivors’ holding their completed theses, and posts encouraging me to persevere and stay positive. I thought, despite the debatable benefit of the social media in young people’s lives, that this really was (is) a good way to create a sense of belonging by listening and being heard without any additional commitments.
Nodding goodbye to these channels, I moved on to see what else was out there (with the cheers of pesky exam-free students continuing to resonate outside my window).