I haven’t written an Oxford Diaries post for some time and I did that on purpose. Partially because I had no time, and whilst being at school and living through the daily stress, I refused to relive it through words on the internet.
Secondly, it was because I had a complete and utter semi-breakdown this term and couldn’t find any gumption, any sort of feeling to share that vulnerability. The insecurities are still here but I’ve shoved it into the back of my mind. Plus, today I submitted my first graded paper, all 5000 words of torture and I thought, why not celebrate with blogging?!
I Wish I Knew: The Emotional Toll Is Greater Than The Rest
What do I mean by this? When I was applying I remembered the stress, yes, and I remembered the hard work, the slugging through, the procrastination, what I forgot, however was the attack your emotional self takes at school! I have new found respect for PhD students! This term was difficult because I was told, in my first week, that I was far from good enough and I would fail if I didn’t ‘catch up fast’. Now, I thought the hard part was getting into this damn school, I forgot to think that staying would be even harder. This emotional toll was ridiculous. I remember during 4th week (here, every week we have a medium sized essay that’s ungraded, so it’s like practice and we have 4 large marked essays) I had another essay that I was completely struggling with. I didn’t know what the hell to write about and I before I got to my computer I slammed my fingers into the door. So what does a sleep-deprived, stressed 24 year old do? I just sat on the floor and cried, and cried, and cried. It didn’t even hurt that much but it was the last straw! I even scared the crap out of my partner because she had no idea how slamming my fingers could reduce me to 5-year old mode. It’s a bit funny now.
I Wish I Knew: They Serve Drinks With Everything
Maybe this is a British thing and peep who go to other UK uni’s can let me know if this happens with them, but there is alcohol with everything! Have a seminar, want a drink? Go to a lecture, have some wine? See an exhibition opening, more champagne ma’am? It’s crazy! That being said, I drink but not tons so this was quite funny as I felt like alcohol was being shoved at me. I have to smile because there are many tipsy moments with professors because of it.
I Wish I Knew: Support Is Everything
I didn’t need much support in my undergrad so I was completely thrown to left field when I realised I needed more support than I was getting. I don’t mean I want someone to hold my hand, but be it from family, friends, partners, supervisors or your cohorts, seek support where you can. I found, especially, that as students my cohorts and I were most unwilling to admit our failings and as such we isolated ourselves from each other. It was only when someone started crying in class (Not me) that I realised, we’re all going through the exact same thing.
Lessons From Term 1:
- Make a schedule for yourself and really, try stick to it.
- Schedule fun time as well! If you don’t you won’t stick to it.
- Make sure you see your friends (At least once a day, even if for 5 minutes only).
- But make sure you have you-time.
- Do. Not. Procrastinate.
- Find beauty in the small things (Like my little fox below!).
- You’re smarter than you think.
- Don’t take things personally, just take it as a learning lesson.
- Talk to your family, even when they don’t understand.
- Read for fun.
- Go to the gym.
- Candy won’t make you feel better or get that essay done, so drop it.
- Never mistake the power of colorful highlighters. They are your best friend.
So yeah this is a lot of whining and being an emotional blob, but my first term was horrid. I won’t lie, I disliked it completely. But I have just started term 2 now and I am determined to have fun and make the best of it. I’ve scheduled blogging, coding and movie times into my weekly schedule and I’m set on having fun, be it by going to see films, walking around exhibitions or going on walks (When it’s warmer, I believe the lack of sun was a serious problem for me emotionally, dude, it was dark all the damn time for 2 weeks straight), I’m going to leave this year with stories and smiles! And good grades. Yes.