So, what does a typical day in the life of a Clinical PhD student look like? Quite frankly, I don’t know. In fact, I’ll tell you a little secret. I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘typical day.’ If you asked me, my answer would depend on the day of the week and how my thesis and assignments were progressing. I’d also wager that if you asked my comrades who have the same coursework and thesis commitments, you’d get a different answer again.
I will concede that a ‘typical week‘ exists. On a weekly basis I attend a day and a half’s worth of classes, a faculty seminar and a meeting with my supervisor. In between these bouts of structure I can be found doing ‘homework’ for my classes, working on assignments, reading, writing, bouncing ideas off the others in the ‘Nerve Centre’ and of course, thinking. But this bland description doesn’t capture the half of it: birthday cake days, campus wildlife spotting, occasional escapes to the grand piano round the corner, a-ha moments, thesis/computer/coursework/admin trouble shooting sessions, training seminars, inductions, lunchtime rituals and social get-togethers also punctuate my typical week from time to time. And then of course, there is my life outside uni: my casual job, family and friends. Variety is the spice of life and ironically, the one constant in my life as a Clinical PhD student.
Take today, it started out with me driving to uni belting out ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay in my car, and ended with me writing this post while munching on a chocolate snowball (for the uninitiated, this is a chocolate and coconut coated marshmallow). In between, I attended classes – applying ethics concepts to counselling scenarios, listening to others’ research progress and discussing statistical power; worked on my thesis – reviewing the latest articles in one of my ‘pet’ journals, writing my research proposal and having an a-ha moment about where my thesis is headed and, lastly, the ‘miscellany section’ of my day today – debating the inner workings of EndNote, why I like research, why some academics wear blue robes and why the writing on the bottom of lipstick is ridiculously tiny. My theory is that they try to save money on ink!
All in all, the unstructured elements of a Clinical PhD aren’t a bad thing. They’re an opportunity for flexibility, to call my own shots within reason, and to develop a system that works for me. I’ll probably blog about my day to day experiences from time to time now, so watch out for my ‘a day in the life’ category if you’re interested.