Best Things I Enjoyed During My Ph.D.

Ph.D. this one word has the power to fill a mind with completely different thoughts, for some people it is a traumatized life, for some this goal is hard to achieve, for some it is a never-ending process, for some it is a group of boring aged people, for some it is a degree to get a better job, and for few it is surely a fun, excitement, relaxation, meditation and a lot more.

What does my Ph.D. mean to me? For me, it is a learning process to live a better life the way I want. For me, it is just a way to live a life based on my own terms and conditions.

I joined my Ph.D. because I always dreamed of doing one (I will share all reasons in detail sometime later). During my Ph.D. I had some ups and down, I understood how does it feel like being on two extremely opposite poles of life like on one extreme being elated and on other being dispirited or at one time being highly motivated and at the other time being completely discouraged. But overall, it is a fun process that will make you out as a totally new person. I completely agree that it has changed my perspective, my way to handle the situation and deal with people, and even more.

Here, I am going to briefly explain every single thing that I enjoyed during my Ph.D., and the list is below:

  1. The very first thing that I completely enjoyed during my Ph.D. is Open Discussions. Once, one of my friends said: I like to discuss science with a cup of Bournvita. And it’s really true. During all the free time or when we were tired of our works, we used to discuss every single thing in the world. We used to have an enormous capacity to discuss anything, whether it is some health tips, latest papers, physics, math or anything. My supervisor always used to ignite the discussion and motivated us to understand the science of everything. I feel it helped me a lot and I gained a lot of knowledge from these discussions. First thing, it will help you to improve your interpersonal discussion skills, Second, it will help you to know about other’s work, and the last but not the least, it will also give you a chance to discuss your work. So, next time wherever you are, in a conference or in a meeting, you are ready to explain your work from a school kid to a specialist in your field. I will suggest every student, discuss as much as possible during your Ph.D.
  2. Book Reading: I read many popular science books and also interesting motivational books during my Ph.D. These popular science books helped me to get the depth of different subjects, at the same time, other books helped me to be motivated during the research. I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho and his books helped me to better understand the life. They never let me feel demotivated. I read books on crowdsourcing, behavioral economics, positive psychology, neuroscience, etc. I have a list of all read books on my homepage. Still, there are many books in the “yet to read” list and I keep adding more 🙂
  3. Motivational Blogs, Articles, and Talks: Initially my supervisor suggested me to read some blogs like a blog by Dr. Radhika Nagpal and some motivational videos like by Dr. Richard Hamming. I always enjoy reading more articles, blogs, and all these ideas always keep me motivated. These things really helped to better understand the research, the motivation of research and even to better understand the Ph.D. like what should you aim and what you actually want. I spend almost all my Sunday reading them and even I have a broadcast mailing list where I share any good article that I come through. It also helps me to connect with the people of same interest.
  4. Paper Reading: I always maintained one rule: Daily Read Research Papers. Sometimes it is not possible to finish a paper in a day, still, I used to read at least for 3-4 hours daily. This morning reading used to help me to give a lot of ideas to work on. I also maintain a diary to note down all these amazing questions. I will also suggest to a student, try this at least once and note down the ideas as soon as you get them otherwise you will forget it later. It’s true that a good research idea will strike you again and again, but still, it’s better to note down at some place so that you can come back to it later.
  5. Discuss Your Work: I always enjoyed discussing my work with my colleagues and friends even if they were not from the same stream. It helped me to get clarity of my work and if we discuss the work with fresh minds, they can also come up with some randomly new ideas which might help you to get a completely new direction towards your work. If we discuss our work with new students, it will motivate them to better understand the research, and some of them can also join you as a collaborator. The connections made during Ph.D. are for the lifetime. I also enjoyed discussing others’ work and help them to choose the best that they want. I gave many presentations during my Ph.D. and I was always excited to give even more 😀
  6. Meet the Deadlines: I always tried my best to meet the deadlines that I set for me. But I always kept one thing in mind: Don’t set the deadline for the paper submission, if the work is not ready. In the starting of the career, it can be harmful. My supervisor helped me to understand this and how it can lead to a shallow work. These deadlines also will not let you enjoy the process of research. So, I always just focused on my work, once it’s done, you can set the submission deadline and work towards it. Still, I tried to set some smaller milestones and always tried my best to meet them. These smaller accomplishments always kept me happy 🙂
  7. Exercise and Yoga: During Ph.D., it is essential to take good care of your health. Initially, I used to feel that I don’t have time for all this. But once I started managing my time, it became an important part of my daily schedule. I was having enough time and the first time in my life, I continued yoga for such a long time and seriously it also helped me a lot.
  8. Hobbies: I always kept some dedicated time for my hobbies except the reading and writing like I enjoy cooking, so, I always prepare something for me at least once a week. I have a list of dishes that you can prepare just with the help of an electric kettle or even without that. I do crafts like making cards. I write poems and also blogs that you already know :P. I won many prizes in poetry and essay competitions in IIT Ropar. Except this, I have some dedicated time to work on my social helping projects and this is one thing that really makes me proud.

I also had some bad times as I told you earlier, but they were very small as compared to all good things. We don’t need to discuss them here, the first reason is: wherever you are, life always has ups and downs and more they are better you learn, and the second is: negativity is more contagious, It lingers in our mind for long time :P. I am a person who overthinks and so I always especially try to be positive. I always talk with positive and motivating people. I will also suggest the same to others. It is applicable in all phases of life.

Ph.D. is one of the best experience of the life where I learned how to handle success and failure, how to deal with completely different people, and still learning more. I hope, my Ph.D. will shape me as a good academician, a good researcher, and the most important a better person 🙂

Journey for the lifetime has begun and I want to cherish every single moment of it 🙂

malgudi
My Research Group Photo (2015)