No-one doing a PhD has it easy. That’s just a fact, but some definitely have it easier than others.
I was talking to Sz the other day. Sometimes I feel like we’re all on a raft holding each other on – on a good day with good feedback and fire in your belly about your research you’re fully on the raft. On a bad day when you can’t get started or you’ve got so much paid work to do your PhD takes a back seat or your kid gets sick you start to slip… And sometimes someone falls off. Though I haven’t seen this happen in my department yet. The thing sucking me into the ocean is definitely my two jobs – right now things are good, I’m turning down business in my self-employed work to give myself room to breathe, and my regular job is only 15 hours a week.
But I’ve got it easy compared to some. Sz is Kurdish, her close family are here but she’s studying against the background of the IS affecting her wider family.
She doesn’t want to go back.
I can’t imagine what it is to focus when militants may harm your sister, your mother. It’s beyond belief.
Kurdish Female Fighters
My discipline at PhD level has an international student majority. Sz told me I’m the only Brit they talk to – I pointed out I’m the only Brit on the programme! We share the office with others, but they’re all History or Literature. Our international students come currently exclusively from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Most of them speak Arabic. I love and envy that people from countries as far apart as Libya and Iraq (1,600 miles) can talk in a common tongue.
That’s like the distance between UK and Greece.
I’m glad for them. With the background they’re trying to study against the stronger we can hold on to this raft and to each other, the better.