Love is in the air!
In honor of Valentine’s day we decided to show a little love to our PhDs! Whilst the process of obtaining your doctorate can be difficult, full of trials and tribulations, there is also something so special in creating and nurturing a project for 3-ish years! So read what our committee members have to say below, and fall in love with your PhD all over again!
What I love about my PhD is that it’s mine – all mine! It’s my chance to get knee-deep in research and to forget about the demands of life and everything else that’s going on in the world. And that’s definitely needed at the moment with lock down etc. Don’t get me wrong there are days where I can’t face the PhD but that soon changes to love again. I often find that my work and being a dad means I am expected to meet the demands and requests of other people. But my PhD allows me to make decisions, drive the schedule and feel that little bit more in control. I love going upstairs into my study, closing the door and getting lost down that research rabbit hole for a little while.
That said, I will love it when it comes to submitting my thesis and stepping back and relaxing. But until then I will try my best to stoke the fires of love for research 🙂
The thing I love most about my PhD is simply that I get to do something I genuinely love every day. In the past, I’ve had some wonderful jobs with amazing coworkers, which were certainly difficult to leave, and I’ve also had some stressful and unfulfilling positions, which simultaneously boosted my anxieties and sank my sense self-worth. Over the years, I’ve washed dishes, cleaned toilets, mopped floors, and scrubbed out deep fryers. I’ve changed diapers, been spat at, and physically threatened with a weapon. While working as a server, I even had a boss tell me that I would make more money in tips if I lost a few pounds.
By no means do I consider my previous roles to be unimportant in any way, and after all, we all experience highs and lows in our work lives, but for me, the PhD process is a new level of rewarding. I love engaging in historical research, talking about my research, and hearing about the exciting projects that my friends and coworkers have underway. Even when I’m struggling with writing deadlines and managing a healthy work-life balance, I feel so grateful to be pursuing a PhD in a field and a program that I absolutely love.
The thing I love most about my PhD (so far) is that it has allowed me to grow and discover who I am on both a professional and personal level. I have done a significant amount of self-growth during my PhD years and I have realised what I do, and don’t, want out of life, including my future career. The PhD has given me the opportunity to explore my interests and develop my project. It has also given me the time to work on my skill-set and gain experience in research projects.
It’s so easy to get bogged down in the negative parts of doing a PhD – and those are important conversations to have – but there are many good things about the process. For example, I love being able to make my own hours and though I tend to work Monday to Friday 9-5, it’s so nice just to be able to work in the evenings or weekends whenever its convenient. Before the pandemic, I really appreciated that my flexible schedule allowed me to do things spontaneously and though there’s less spontaneity these days, I enjoy being able to make room for my personal life in my work.
In a similar vein, I love having multiple projects to work on at any given time. Depending on my mood and workload, I can work on teaching, research, writing, administration, or applications on any given day. This is definitely a double-edged sword, because sometimes all the tasks need to be done at once, but largely, I find I focus better when I can split my day between different projects.
Finally, I love being afforded the opportunity to read and write whatever I want. I can follow research rabbit holes and I can write about niche stories that are probably only interesting to me and I can read incredible books by talented historians all day. This privilege is the thing I hold onto when things are hard and when the future is uncertain – it keeps me going through this roller coaster ride of a degree.
There are two things I cherish in particular: first, the incredible intellectual freedom. While studying for my BA and MA, I already enjoyed moving freely from one topic to another, but I still had to stick to some kind of plan and to take classes I would’ve rather avoided. Now, I do only stuff related to my research – or read books as long as they keep interesting me. And this without any pressure of any kind.
Second, I find the research-and-writing part of the job very exciting – this uninterrupted flow of questions and answers, the regular dismissal of hypothesis or emerging of new ones, and the impression (is it ever more than just that?) that the picture became just a little bit clearer.
I am studying the vocabulary of Celtic migration in ancient Greek inscriptions – pretty cool, isn’t it? Leaving aside the struggles of actually making a good work out of it, I acknowledge that there are a few aspects of my PhD thesis which I love.
First the interdisciplinary approach. To reach my goal, I need to combine epigraphic, literary and archaeological sources, and this forces me to go out of my comfort-zone – as I have a main Classics background. Secondly, thanks to the analysis of decrees and offers, I have the chance to read bits of political life of small Greek communities, that I would not have the chance to know otherwise. The idea that the existence of so many people have resisted the challenge of time drives me crazy.
Finally, but it is the aspect that I love the most, my thesis allows to discuss propaganda and depiction of the other, in the context of the Celtic migration(s) – a topic of great impact nowadays. It is unbelievable how some mechanisms of representation stay the same throughout the centuries. This makes me realize how relevant the study of history (even the most ancient one) is! And it therefore gives so much sense to what I do.