The second term was tough with five separate two-week modules and two one-week half-modules, all with their own coursework and deadlines, plus we all had to complete a literature review for our research project and submit a 20 page write-up. As well as intimidating, this was very exciting as it marked the transition from the taught components of the course to the research element, which is exactly why I embarked upon the course in the first place: to test out my ideas for research into the energy system transition to see if they have any validity, if I can ‘do research’, if I find it interesting and feel it can be useful.
I’m definitely a social animal. While I need some “me time” once in a while, I tend to surround myself with people. This is why when I embarked on my first PhD journey, I wasn’t too thrilled to learn that I’d be travelling alone. That sounded so scary, I was afraid that something would go wrong or, in the best case scenario, I’d just feel lonely and miserable for a few days.
Since then I’ve been to so many conferences in various countries, often extended to a mini-vacation. Almost always, completely alone. And let me tell you, I learned to love it.
If you’re thinking of going to Amsterdam, go to Haarlem instead. No, seriously.
Haarlem is a smaller city just 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. It’s got far fewer tourists, cheaper and nicer accommodation, and way better food. PLUS, it’s a mere 20 minute bus ride to the beach!Haarlem’s main square. Photo: iamsterdam.com
With the final assignment of term 2 done and dusted, we decided to take advantage of Eurostar’s new direct train from London to Amsterdam (£35 one way). Well, almost direct. It does do a short stop in Brussels and the total journey is about 3.5 hours.
Best part of doing a PhD? Conferences! When you finally manage to do some meaningful research, it’s time to present it to a wider audience. In other words, pack your suitcases and bon voyage! I know that attending conferences might be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, so here are a few tips to make the most of them.
- Find a good conference. If you’re as lucky as I am and have a great supervisor, she or he will suggest interesting events to you. Otherwise you’ll need to do the work yourself. However, at Imperial we’re flooded with e-mails advertising scientific events, there’s also Google and your colleagues who can give you some advice.