This Friday just gone saw my day long PhD induction, and I have to say the overwhelming emotion I felt during the day was excitement. It’s certainly been a long, long time since I felt that in a work situation, and it made a refreshing change. To say there was a lot to take on board would probably be an understatement – I’ve pages of notes riddled with “Action Points” to do this week. None of them are directly related to my research, mostly they’re about getting my head around the whole PhD process and the practicalities of getting started.
One thing that is clear is that NTU takes the PhD training process very seriously, which is great as I want this to be as much a voyage of education as research. I rather liked their idea that they want to bring our skills to the fore more than teach us knew things; a case of polishing the diamond. Perhaps as doctoral candidates we’ve already demonstrated we’ve got a lot of what it takes to go through this process and now just need that final expert guidance. I was especially delighted to discover that my faculty (Arts and Humanities) runs a four-part training programme over the three years that will allow me to emerge with a Post-Graduate diploma on top of the PhD. This half-day a week class is going to come in handy in terms of giving me a weekly collegiate event to attend, but also in terms of getting to know some more of my fellow Arts students (or at least their faces!)
I would love to say that everything in the day was wonderous and thrilling, but then i remember the health and safety lecture. Honestly, I’m sure there’s a way to make H&S engaging, but sadly the session I had wasn’t going to be that one. Maybe if they’d employed puppets or perhaps even a dash of humour it might have helped. Ah well, it was good advice about computing set ups, but nothing I haven’t heard a dozen times before.
I am left with a few major practical questions which I hope to answer this week – principally “Do I have anywhere to call my own on campus or am I just nomadic?” If the answer is “no, you don’t” I can see I’ll be likely doing a fair chunk of my work off site; which doesn’t bother me that much. But I would like to feel like I have a reason to be on campus, beyond wanting to use the physical; library resources or meet with my supervisors. Indeed the only thing in my diary so far was this induction day; which rather concerned me. I began to sneakily suspect that I’d started getting university emails to my new email address which I’d not been able to log into. A frantic half hour during the day on my mobile finally resolved that, and I was pleased to discover that I hadn’t missed anything. I was also able to touch base with my two supervisors and set up some face time this Thursday.
It’s a little unnerving at the start of so much new to pretty much be doing all the sorting out off my own back – just as well I’m used to being a self-starter I guess, but I’m trying to avoid coming over too demanding or pushy. Guess it’s all part of the managing your supervisor alongside the PhD experience!
So tomorrow I’ll be on site trying to sort out parking arrangements, picking up a student card and seeing if the “hot desking for graduates” I heard about on Friday is going to be worth the schlep to Nottingham. And making my first weekly action plan from last week’s notes. Suspect there’s gonna be a whole lot of reading this week too, mostly of rules regulations and requirements – which I hope will make sense. Beyond this I hope I’ll beginning the process of beginning to feel like I belong to my new university, which I suspect may be a long drawn out process if my actual contact hours with faculty and fellow students are going to be a bit low.