PhD stands for the Latin philosophiae doctor, or Doctor of Philosophy. But there are some amusing alternatives for the acronym: parents have doubts/ paid half of what I deserve/ probably heavily in debt/ piled higher and deeper/ permanent head damage/ pretty heavily depressed/ patiently hoping for a degree/ please hire - desperate/ pour him.her a drink/ pulsating heaving disaster. And if you are still stuck in high school, it could also mean pretty huge dick.
I think you get the idea. With the exception of the last example, they are all varying descriptions of doom and gloom, why-would-you-willingly-submit-yourself-to-this, PhDs are synonymous with financial and mental struggles.
It's been over a month now since I've started my PhD.
I think the transition has been fairly easy for me on a practical level. I did my Honours, research assistant work, and undergrad in the same building, so I know who to ask and how to make things happen. But the first month has been surprisingly stressful, more stress than I felt during Honours. It probably didn't help that all my supervisors disappeared just after I started, and that I was trying to do too many things at once.
I think, though, that the real reason I have been feeling stressed is the enormity of the task that lies ahead, much of which is self-imposed above and beyond what a PhD requires. There is so much I want to achieve in the next three and a half years, and then there is all the science AS WELL! I think this is something that most all PhD students have to grapple with. Starting, driving, and completing a body of work that is up to, preferably well above, standard.
Where to start, how to start, how to plan with the next four years in mind?
Since I've started, I've completed (nearly) all the necessary paperwork and forms, talked to all the people I could think of who know about things I want to know about, done a bit of thinking, been on a PhD student retreat to the ANU coastal campus at Kioloa, started a bit of fieldwork, and questioned what the hell my PhD will actually be on. I guess its a start, and that's all the matters right now.
(Next post I promise I'll write about what I'm actually studying...)