We use cookies to ensure we give you the best experience of our website. By accepting, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our privacy policy.

Tips to Ensure that the PhD Journey isn't Lonesome

Tips to Ensure that the PhD Journey isn't Lonesome

The PhD journey is often said to be lonesome. For those starting the journey or planning to, I can assure you that this is not an exaggeration. Part of making the PhD journey a meaningful one is to connect with others. Here are my top three tips for ensuring that your PhD journey isn’t a lonesome one.

1. Participate in activities for doctoral students

Usually, there are activities organised for doctoral students, whether at the university or faculty level. At my university, such activities include regular writing workshops, topical seminars and social lunches. My experience is that while many PhD students are often holed up in their offices, they do attend these activities, especially when the topic is a practical one for their study. 

If you keep saying you don’t have time for other things apart from studying, think about how these activities will enhance your research. Plan your time well so that you can make time to broaden your perspective, and at the same time, meet other people.

2. Network

When you attend an event or participate in an activity, do you meet new people? Or do you gravitate towards people you already know? If you do the latter, I guarantee you that your circle of friends will remain as small as it started!

I believe that networking, or making new contacts, is important for a PhD student. Knowing fellow PhD students from your faculty is important, but so is getting to know students from other faculties, and also people who are not PhD students. Establishing a network of contacts is especially important in New Zealand where careers are built on networks and relationships.

For me, knowing people from different disciplines and areas of work helped me to understand the university better. At times, they also provided different perspectives on an issue I was looking at.

Photo collage of PhD student in NZ

3. Make it happen

If you find that there aren’t many activities to join in the first place, or any chance for networking, then here’s your opportunity to create them. If there’s a student association for doctoral or postgraduate students, why not join the committee and help organise activities that other students will find useful? Or perhaps speak to a staff member at your faculty who oversees PhD students? Perhaps make suggestions on how the faculty can help integrate PhD students better?

Personally, I have done both. I am a fairly sociable and outgoing person, and yet, I felt isolated and disconnected when I started my PhD, especially in the first few months. While there were several activities happening on campus and at my faulty, I felt more could be done to foster a sense of belonging for PhD students. I now actively advocate for, and contribute to, a community of doctoral students. 

Conclusion

Don’t believe that you are meant to be on the PhD journey alone. Whether or not you are an extrovert or introvert, having meaningful relationships with peers and others is an important aspect of your scholarly pursuit, as well as part of a well-balanced life.

Screen Shot 2015 09 30 at 5.35.33 PM

By Sherrie LeeSingaporean PhD student

Updated 3 years ago

Sherrie is a PhD student and emergent scholar at Waikato University interested in language, literacy and identity. She is a tech-savvy multi-tasker, tea-drinker and mum who is interested in sharing her musings on teaching and research. Visit Sherrie's blog at https://teachersherrie.wordpress.com/

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
Share this article

Keep in touch. Don't miss out on the latest posts.

Subscribe to Blog

Stay in touch

For personalised tips and tools for studying in New Zealand.

Please complete all of the fields below.

Please enter a valid email address.

Please enter a first name.

Please enter a last name.

Please select a country.

Please select a valid date (MM/YYYY).

I consent to Immigration New Zealand disclosing to Education New Zealand the existence, status and outcome of any visa application I submit, for use in accordance with, and for the purposes set out in, Education New Zealand’s Privacy Policy which I have read and understood. The results Education New Zealand receives may also include visa decisions pre/post the student visa application (such as a work visa post study). This will enable us to provide a more personalised digital experience and undertake research and analytical studies associated with our functions.

You can unsubscribe at any time By submitting this form I agree to Education New Zealand Privacy Policy, and to receive updates and marketing communications about their services, promotions, special offers, new and events.

Thanks for subscribing

Close
Tohu icon

Kia ora! Get answers to your questions about studying in New Zealand

Learn More