Today was the first official day of my PhD studies – although to be honest part of me did think “Given I don’t see my supervisors until Thursday, maybe I should just stay in bed?”. However, I don’t think that’s the right way to kick things off on my new adventure, so I dragged myself out of the house around 9.40am.
Yeah I know, lazy old art student! I’ve intend to set myself a few tasks this week every day, planning each day the night before. I know, from speaking to other former PhD students, that I should expect everything to blast off all at once and that learning to walk before I run is to be expected. However, I want to capitalise on whatever keenness I have before it starts to fade. Today I wanted to do three things:
- Obtain my student ID
- Purchase a car parking permit
- Explore the Campus a bit
The first two tasks were rather intrinsically linked. Having parked about a third of a mile away (due to lack of parking permit) I strolled up the hill to the Clifton campus in the surprisingly balmy October sun…only to discover of course security were just letting everyone in today. #FacePalm I found the fabled George Elliott building, which seems to be the central administration and incidentally also houses my school (Arts and Humanities) and joined the snakey long queue of undergraduates that went out the door. After 5 minutes I realised they were queuing for bus passes and not the reception desk where the car parking permits were housed. #FacePalm2
Getting to the front of the queue and asking about permits of course the first question they asked me was “Do you have your student ID?” Erm, no, but they were very helpful and directed me to where I could get it – a surprisingly quiet and mostly empty Student Services Building. More friendly staff interaction and a short wait later I came out equipped with a piece of plastic with my “handsome” face on it – pulling what can only be described as an expression that indicates I’m in the process of passing wind. I’m not I can assure you, I just don’t photograph well.
Back at the parking queue I got to the front and was asked had I filled in the application form…which I’d missed hidden behind a tall student. So a few minutes were spent filling it in, and then a very brief queue to get to the front. The chap who’d directed me to the forms had mentioned something about needed to have them authorised by the mysterious “One of those two blokes over there who’s not there right now” (very metaphysical, only in HE and local Council Offices!). However, he didn’t seem too bothered and turned to his shiny book of hologrammed parking passes and asked me the most important question of the day.
“What’s your car registration number?”
Erm, erm. “It has an 8 in it” I muttered going utterly blank, before giving him half the registration of a car I owned over 10 years ago. #Facepalm3 he kindle suggested (clearly realising he was dealing with a poor confuddled mature student/proto-academic) and suggested I check on my phone for a picture of my car. Nope, lots of pictures of geese but he wasn’t keen to accept them as an acceptable alternative. I muttered something about being happy to walk back to my car and check and nipped out the door before he could burst out laughing. I did ring Mrs Llama to see if she knew, but she was (perhaps reassuringly) as clueless as me.
Still, it was a nice day and going back to my car allowed me time to phone my mother and make doubly sure I now had a photo of my car! All of which allowed me to swiftly get a parking permit from the nice people at the reception. Saints the lot of them I tell you, considering I’m just one daffy student out of hundreds they’ll be dealing with today!
After that I went for a stroll around campus, through the student bar (seems nice, but it was a bit early and I was driving after all) and then finally around the library. Yes, like a moth to a flame I can’t keep away from the library for long. Then again as I am (apparently still) office-less I may be seeing a whole lot more of the library than I expected. While it’s not massive, it is still a goodly size with a plethora of open access IT labs around it, a good book stock and a graduates only room which I may camp out in tomorrow. I also briefly met one of my fellow inductees (Mohammed) again, which was great as he seemed to have had the same run around as I had with the parking permits and ID cards.
I didn’t dare ask if he knew his own registration though.
As the library was offering tours I decided to take them up on one, and it was refreshing to be toured around by a charming member of staff rather than doing the library inductions myself. I very much like their self-issue machines (all your books at once? Wow!) and the Red/Yellow/Green zones which equate to Silent/Low chatter/Group. The second floor Red silent zone seems strangely appealing as somewhere to come and read. Tour done I headed off into the nearest IT room to change my password and generally get my student IT account configured to run the way I like it. I rounded off the day dropping a variety of emails to various people across the country and university before calling it an early day and coming home.
So far it feels like it’s been a whole lot more about me pulling information than it being pushed to me. As a graduate that’s fine (if slightly unnerving as I keep wondering if there’s something key I’ve forgotten), but I would perhaps like a teeny-tiny little bit more hand holding until I get myself established. Ah well, let’s see what tomorrow brings – I’m planning an early start (by early I mean before 9am okay!) to test out the rush hour traffic and to start cracking through some of the PhD regulations. Beyond that I just hope to get myself more comfortable with what I should be doing…and when!