How I maintain my smile in the middle of my PhD

Published by Emma - Clinical Pharmacology PhD September 7, 2017 11:57 am

Many of you wonder how it is really to be a doctorate student right in the middle of my degree. You often ask me how work is going and how I manage to get everything done in time. Why on earth do I always smile while talking about my postgraduate studies, when most students are complaining?


Facing Deadlines

Well, let’s take a closer look at what being a PhD student in the middle of their studies looks like. First of all, we are snowed under with deadlines. Stress goes up when the date and time are approaching and we become more workaholic than ever… I won’t argue about these. However, what happens when you make it? That burden goes away and you smile!

Before the deadline


After the deadline


Proving your worth

Another characteristic of a PhD study is experimental work and constant research. Annual progression panels are there to help us, but they also require results to be reported clearly. This is normally facilitated by publications. While obtaining experimental data and after analysing them, we normally have our results ready for publication. That’s how things work. Every time I start preparing a manuscript, I feel miserable while thinking how long it will take me to actually publish this work. However, when I reach the end and after multiple corrections and resubmissions sometimes, when I see it pre-published online, I can’t help smiling!


Constant presentations

In PhD life you ALWAYS have to present something, even if it’s the tenth time you are presenting it. Another round of stress begins, which increases before the event. However, it’s not so bad when you are there. I always come up with interesting topics. I try to chat to as many “important people” as possible and finally end up learning a lot more than expected. After my presentation finishes, people ask questions and I happily answer them and exchange information. Isn’t this enough to once again make you… smile?


After finishing my poster presentation at an International conference

The importance of staying true to yourself

If there is one thing that is more important here is you social life. This defines how happy you will be during your PhD. I only have one advice: be yourself. Meet as you would with your friends and/or family, meet new people, go for that football match every Tuesday, watch a few movies per term… Just be your usual self. Don’t panic; you will still perform well if you spend your working hours efficiently. Oh, and keep your relationship with your supervisor stable, with minor ups and downs. If you have a stable relationship with people, your life will remain stable during the most difficult period of your working life, giving you more chances to maintain a beautiful smile throughout the PhD.


Try to enjoy this time as much as possible, learn more and more useful things and acquire important skills. This how you’ll make the most of it.


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