Another befuddled post about “The Third Year”

Yes, it is that time of the year again. Sherry shared her thoughts on this last year and now someone else is trying to grasp the unpalatable fact that they are now in their third year of PhD. (By someone I mean me. Surprise!)

My enemy, the Calendar

Time flies, as the saying is. The thing is, when you are doing a PhD it does not move in graceful avian manner, oh no. It is more like a space rocket, warp ten. It feels like I have scheduled my first supervision meeting only yesterday and still have infinite amounts of time ahead of me to get this thesis in submittable shape. But I don’t. Somehow, it happened that when people ask, I have to tell them I am in my third year. (Third year!) And they have been asking awfully lot lately. Apart for seriously considering a petition to restrict this savage probing, I am becoming increasingly aware of the timeframe in which thesis can and should develop. Micro and macro planning is now a necessity and actually helped restore some of the “I’ve got this!” feeling. Calendar might be a formidable enemy, but can be tamed with a good app or paper-based warfare, whichever you prefer.

Here’s a big picture of cake, because cake makes things better. (Image credits: soapylovedeb/CC BY 2.0)

Change is… good?

It is not just the date that has changed. People expect more of you and your work, more quality, focus, determination. They also start treating you like you know what you are doing, which is amazing, as well as slightly terrifying. Sometimes major changes are required in the way you project is structured, a not always the changes you will be thrilled about. But being in third year means that you will need to make those decisions and the sooner you make them, the easier it will be to see the finishing line more clearly.

PhD students around you will change, too. Some will become more focused on writing and less eager to socialise, some might seem more moody or anxious, others will graduate and leave. The instability of social networks is probably the least enjoyable of the PhD experience. On the other hand, it might encourage you to try new things and find new activities to take your mind off the thesis in down time. Change could be good.

Full speed ahead!

As scary as third year might seem, it is probably a breeze in compared to the stage when people start asking “When are you submitting” and “What are you going to do next”. My analysis is wobbly, argumentation still timid, and that literature review will need some serious rewriting, but I have decided to embrace this breakneck speed and make the most of the time I have left as a PhD student. Fasten your seat-belts, lets do this!

Any third years out there? How are you handling this (metaphorical) chapter? 🙂

Ana Kedveš  (@anakedves)

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