Week one – Mediocre expectations

First of all, I think it is important for to me to explain the position I am in, and how it came to be. Just this year I graduated with a 1st class honours degree from the University of Reading. My degree was in Nutrition and Food science and I had a year in industry between my 2nd and 3rd years. My expectation was to go into industry after my degree and nine-to-five-it until I had accumulated just enough resources to not have to do that anymore and sit around all day doing ‘whatever I wanted’, being perfectly mediocre, all the while imagining being rich and successful.
During my final year, I did my dissertation with (someone anonymous, we shall call C), looking at discolouration of lettuce. This was essentially a continuation of the work I had been doing on my placement. Towards the end of the project, C asked me what I was going to do when I left university, and if I wanted to do a PhD. My reaction was essentially ‘me?, but aren’t PhDs just for geniuses?’. Luckily for me, they are not just for ‘geniuses’, and a plethora of skills are required. Anyway, I’m not rich how could I afford it? I think I need to work.
Later in the year the idea of doing a PhD had been grinding on me and perhaps I could do it, otherwise, why would she ask? To speed up along the story, which I am getting bored of typing when I finished my degree I had two choices, a PhD fully funded and with a £17k a year salary or a job I liked paying £30k. I was quite conflicted myself, so I asked my family and friends, which had a 100% response rate of ‘PhD’. It was the best of times and the worst of times, I had miraculously got a win-win situation and it became a source of misery, in the end, I know you feel very bad for me, but it was a very strange situation.
When the time came that I had to decide, my mind was fully made up, maybe I should not go the mediocre route, and avoid becoming anonymous desk flesh for at least three more years. In the end, it was very easy to choose the PhD.
It was July, I had accepted the PhD, and was due to start in October. A new ultimatum, to job or not to job, the latter won out and I went into retirement. I have never been much of a good-little-consumer eating all the market has to offer, so I had enough saving to bridge the gap. So that is what I did, and to my surprise, didn’t really get bored. I filled my days doing all the things I didn’t feel I could do during my degree, as it would be procrastination, and I learnt loads of useful things, like how to solve a Rubix cube. I would recommend retirement as soon as possible, or at least financial freedom which is now one of my main goals, more on that at another time.
The bit where I actually start my PhD. Week one has mainly consisted of figuring how to structure my calendar and email, Microsoft’s new clutter feature hasn’t helped. Everything is now in sync, and I have a relatively large amount of training and inductions to attend. This is good news as I do not have any lab work planned; it breaks up the reading that has become my life, as does writing this.
What is my PhD in you ask? Food science, understanding freshness and quality etc. The end goal of the project is to have packaging that will better predict when the food is about to go off, and thus reduce waste. In the interest of reducing waste, I am going to end this now, I shall try and write one of these each week. I have left out pages and pages; the trip to Rome for example. I hope there are many mediocre free moments to come over the next 3-4 years.

Continue reading “Week one – Mediocre expectations”

An unexpected PhD student

About this blog. Which, coincidentally is a word I despise.

 

I will get straight to the point. I am a Ph.D. student in Food and Nutritional Sciences; I have got to this stage by largely ignoring writing as a skill. I felt as if my skills within science (maths, physics, etc.) were the most important aspect to improve, so I spent most of my time working on science-related skills. As a consequence my writing skills are very low, hence this blog.

My idea of this blog is to journal my progress through a Ph.D., as it is probably one of the most interesting things I will ever do. But mostly, it is to practice writing and eventually get good at it.

As I am writing, this I have already written several months worth of posts; originally, I was not planning on posting them, but I think that there is no downside to me publishing these posts, as the worst thing that can happen is that I get bad feedback. In this instance, it still helps me improve my writing, so it is win-win as far as I can tell.

As I have previously mentioned, I am several months ahead of this initial post and only plan to release one a week. Becuase of this, my writing has already improved massively, and I am embarrassed to release some of the earlier posts. However, I believe that the journey is much more important than the end so I will release all my posts un-edited.

I intend on writing about more than just my thoughts on being a Ph.D. student such as nutrition, finance, books I’m reading and general thoughts on life. So, if you would like to help me out and provide some feedback, I would greatly appreciate it.

I will remain anonymous for now.