Reflections on the PhD life as I approach the end of Year One

I was bored, so I wrote a tome. No, seriously, since Saturday, I have spent the majority of my waking hours writing this ~7000-word piece on preparing for life in academia. It started out as an e-mail to a friend, which became a blog post that was originally supposed to reside here, which then became a piece long enough to deserve its own web page.

Writing this piece has been a fantastic experience on many levels:

  • I’ve mentioned my ADHD in the piece so there’s no point in shying from it. I’ve recently been on medication for the condition, and this was the first thing I have worked on in years that I was able to get through with a single-minded determination. I was often writing uninterrupted for several hours at a time, and this has brought me a lot of joy.
  • I was able to reflect on the (academic) year that was and categorise various experiences into things that worked, things that didn’t and things that could work if I approached them differently. The reflection alone has been worth preparing this piece.
  • I learnt something new! I’ve been wanting to give Jekyll a try for a while, but never got down to it. Yesterday afternoon, I was more than halfway through writing the text when I decided that instead of hosting the content on my blog I would host it on a GitHub Page, since I wanted to save a full history of the file on GitHub anyway. And since I wanted to be able to edit the Markdown file in the future, I needed to turn to Jekyll. I spent a few hours tinkering with new technology and had the site up and running last night with a “Coming soon!” message. Today, I installed all the necessary software to “serve the website” locally, finished writing the text, edited it, reviewed it, committed the changes, and pushed it to GitHub. Et voil√† !

I welcome your feedback! If you have any comments, please leave them here. If you prefer, you can create issues or pull requests on GitHub instead.