A Day in the life of a PhD Student

Hello Everyone,

Sorry for the late post but unfortunately I have been quite unwell for the past week and a half, so I thought that it would be good to give you an idea of a day in the life of a PhD Student. I thought I would tell you about a day that I had about 2 weeks ago as this sums up a typical if busy day.

So… typically, I wake up at about 7.30am. I then head straight for a shower and get ready for the day. I leave my house at about 8am and head to my office at the University. I tend to get to my desk between 8.15am and 8.30am. I then spend about half an hour eating my breakfast at my desk, making a cup of tea and checking my emails and social media.

Then at about 9am I begin work. The type of work you do can vary depending on where you are in your PhD career. But at the moment I am in a data collection phase of my PhD. So I would normally spend about an hour updating records, communicating with colleagues and responding to participants. Then just after 10am I would start some data inputting. On this day I had a meeting scheduled for 11am with my second supervisor regarding my data analysis, so I spent an hour in a meeting with her talking through my analysis.

Then at 12pm, I returned to me desk and ate my lunch while going through my emails and writing up my notes from the meeting.

Then at 1am I had another meeting with my primary supervisor. We spent about an hour reviewing my notes from my previous meeting and discussing my progress with the data collection and the analysis. After scheduling another meeting and action points to follow-up on, I return again to my desk.

As it happened, one of my PhD friends was leaving Swansea University to pursue another PhD course at a different University so she and a few other colleagues from my department were going out for lunch. I had missed a great deal of the event because I was in a meeting but I headed to the pub they were eating in to catch them for a drink (non-alcoholic of course). After about 45 minutes we all returned to the department and returned to work.

So this was about 2.30pm. I then made another cup of tea and returned to work. I returned to data inputting (this is quite a tedious and attentive phase but is necessary to be able to do sufficient analysis and yield good results). I am not ashamed to say that while working I will often have a video playing on my computer. I would like to say that it is something educational or a TED talk or something, and sometimes it is but most of the time I watch BBC iPlayer or something similar.

So, I would then work to about 4.30pm to 5pm, before going home. My day is not finished then… oh no! I would then make myself some dinner; again I would like to say that it is something healthy but depending on how tired I am this may not be the case. After eating dinner and watching a bit of TV/ talking with my boyfriend, I head out to the gym. I normally spend up to 2 hours in the gym depending on how energetic I feel. Even though this is the last thing that I would like to be doing, I think that it is a good way to de-stress after working all day in an office. I then return home and shower. My boyfriend and I may then go out and meet friends for a drink or simply sit down and watch TV before going to bed.

Well this is a typical day for me at the moment. There are times where my days are more interesting and varied (particularly when doing data collection) but many PhD students will spend a lot of time slugging away at computer. But I hope this gives you an insight to what it is like being a PhD student, but probably one of the most difficult things of being a PhD student is that it is hard to switch off from your work. You can’t simply leave it at the office and quite often you find yourself thinking about work when you are socialising with your friends. But for me it has been helping when I complete 9-5 days at my desk, I feel as though I have completed a good amount of work and can legitimately switch off in the evenings and weekends.

Anyway I hope you found this interesting. Thanks for reading!!!

Joanna Wolton

I am a PhD student in the Centre for Innovative Ageing within the College of Human and Health Sciences. I hope this blog is insightful and gives you some tips and information about what it is like to be a student living in Swansea.

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