So you are a new student enrolled in a PhD programme? Great!! I am sure you have been through a very strict and grilling screening process to be here and this would lead you to what we call as the pinnacle of academic success, a doctoral degree. Within you , at this time, there must be a lot of enthusiasm, some anxiety, a sense of pride and maybe some nervousness and doubts. Is it not natural? Find here some tips that would smoothen out your first year journey for you:
1. Acquaint yourself to the surroundings: All the academic experience that you have gained for yourself is a world away from what you have got into now. It is possible that as a student you would be teaching too during your PhD. Ironical!! Get yourself familiar to where you have enrolled the physical and the social surroundings. Right at the beginning, not much expectation are there from you. Utilise this time to get into your comfort zone. Small little information about the lab, library, washrooms, and cafeteria is actually small but essentially useful.
2. Make your workspace a reflection of you: your designated workspace is a place you wold be spending a lot of your time in the coming few years. Make it a reflection of you. Decorate it; make it comfortable and a place where you feel happy to be. Make sure it has enough light. A place that makes you feel happy and relaxed ends up bringing out the productivity in you. Make you place a happy place.
3. Move out and create a social circle: it is natural to feel shy and ‘ out of place’ as we call it, in a new place. It may be all the more when you are in a new city for your PhD but at the same time getting familiar or better than that, getting friends with co scholars is the biggest help you can do to yourself when you get into a doctoral course. There would be numerous occasions where you would be needing to collaborate with them and take my word for it, with all the madness that the course and your supervisor would create in your life, it is only the friends who truly understand you that you remain sane. So, move out and socialise, indirectly it is an investment towards your degree only.
4. Explore events and activities in your university: All universities keep running events and activities and these are good places to expand your horizons, get into better networking and better relations. In all ways, I suggest becoming an active participant in your department for academic and non-academic events will help you to settle faster. In the beginning, you would have to go forward and explore the available opportunities.
5. Presume your topic /objective of study to change: Last but not the least, it is almost applicable everywhere, the question which is the beginning point a PhD often changes completely or modifies by the end of the course. It is natural and a good development because during the course as your understanding and learning expands, you become a better researcher and you would be able to give more relevant information than ever before so welcome the change in your perspective and research in due course as it is a an indicator of a more mature researcher.
Enjoy your research ride; it is roller-coaster but surely worth it. Good luck!