This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series New life

Chapter 2. July 2nd 2016 – The PhD

For this second blog post, I want to share how the PhD works.

First step in being a PhD student

Being chosen by a PhD supervisor and having your research fundings accepted is not always equal to getting a PhD position. Two major steps at the beginning of the thesis are (i) drafting your career plan, (ii) setting your the research direction and plan. The university may reject both of these essential documents, which would mean going back to  your home country (or worse, to mommy’s house: “bye bye independence”).

The first document paints a portrait of your future career and portrays your future education, goals and how to achieve them. The second one should guide you through your doctoral years and describes the projects that you intend to put in place and other tools necessary for the accomplishment of the mission that has been entrusted to you, namely: to answer a scientific questioning.

If you are stubborn, you have chosen a subject that fits you completely. Not to mention you spent the past five academic years  (at least) to devour the literature on this subject. You are already an expert, so you have a vague idea of the tactics to adopt. If not, you are curious and you have chosen a subject that fits you but leads you outside your comfort zone. You understand your subject but there is still a pile of open questions, a jargon to acquire perhaps … I fit in there.

Åbo Akademi main building.

Åbo Akademi.

Credits: © Samuli Lintula / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Life is all about irony

Either way, the situation is quite ironic. Whatever happens, you have a month and a few weeks or so, to formalize your future path in research. Surely, the task is quite difficult. Perhaps you spent most of your innocent childhood lazing around. You took a great inspiration to explore the two meters of water that border the beaches of your childhood. You spent hours observing the nature that surrounded you. Wasn’t it Science?! Now’s the time, little fella! White page. The pencil traces lines on the paper but the words are unintelligible. “What will my career look like? What do I want to do? Science. No, it’s too vague.” So many questions you have so carefully hidden in the past years and which you have to answer in an instant.

Despite the mishaps, it took me a good month to get a vague idea of where I wanted to go. I know that this is not a definitive path and over time and meetings, readings, this path will widen, get richer and so much better. Consequently, this is surely the best and scariest side of research: nothing is frozen. On April 19, 2016, a little over a month after I arrived, I finally received the letter indicating my acceptance to Åbo Akademi.

Turku dominican church

Turku dominican cathedral. Credits : Pierre Olivier, Ocean Fact.

Now, the usual local music.

Veronica Maggio – Måndagsbarn

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Pierre PhD student - CEO Ocean Fact
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Series Navigation<< Chapter 1 – My acceptance in the MARmaED PhD program – Ocean FactChapter 3 – MARmaED: the strength of a doctoral program – Ocean Fact >>