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Hope.for.the.best

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  1. Hope.for.the.best

    Do you feel lonely as a PhD student?

    I lived on my own for most of my PhD, so I can relate to your concerns. I was never depressed throughout my PhD, but got very anxious in my last year with the dissertation and a difficult advisor. In fact, many PhD students in my department got very stressed out towards the end, but hardly anyone got depressed. I would say maintaining close contact with a support network goes a long way. (1) I called my family back home every day, and my friends from time to time. (2) I also tried to make new friends in the new city. (3) Although I am not clinically anxious or depressed, I saw a psychologist regularly. She went through a PhD herself and knows how to help me through the struggles. My psychologist was in my hometown, so I could see her once a year only. Still, her help was invaluable. (4) I did not get to do that back in PhD, but I am doing that now (as a postdoc). My city has an online counselling program, in which I can keep in touch with a counsellor via emails weekly. The counsellor I get is not as great as my psychologist, but at least I have someone to turn to regularly. I would suggest that you go to your school counselling centre and find a counsellor whom you feel comfortable with. Have regular sessions with the counsellor, at least for the first few months when you are settling. It would also be good if you could establish contact with a doctor (or a psychiatrist, depending on your needs), so in case things get out of control and you need treatments, you have a medical professional to turn to. Most importantly, maintain a healthy lifestyle and a regular exercise routine, as you do back home! All the best!
  2. Hope.for.the.best

    Mastering out of PhD

    It is really difficult to give advice, but I feel for you. The emotional pain of doing a PhD away from family and friends is very intense. I went through that myself, and had I not seen PhD a must in my life, I would have given up. Does your school have anyone like counsellor or student advisor whom you can talk to? I don't mean that your thoughts of quitting PhD are not justified, but it is always good to get opinions from someone who have seen that a lot. They can also advise you on how you can bring that up to your PI. All the best!
  3. Hope.for.the.best

    Not going to a conference that I am not presenting

    Thanks again for all your replies! I ended up not going to the conference for the said reason. Quite a few people from my department did not go either. Thankfully, the department head did not pull me aside and asked why I did not go. There will be an event in my uni next week, which my department head requires everyone to go. She sent an email about that earlier this week. So I can be rest assured that I don't have to attend any events in future if I don't receive any emails from the department head.
  4. Hope.for.the.best

    Should I panic about my new program?

    The short answer is no. Unfortunately, competition always exists, and negative things do happen with competition. Let's forget about the issues between professors. From what I see, you are concerned that your advisor is like her other students describe. I would suggest that you wait until you get to meet her to know more about her. Based on that, you will have better ideas to communicate with her more effectively. I am giving my own example of my PhD advisors, *Cecilia and *Andy. Many students describe *Cecilia as demanding, uncaring, and someone difficult to work with. I do agree in part that she is a harsh advisor, but she is actually very dedicated to help students succeed. She is the one advisor who bothers to read and re-read students' drafts, and she always gets back to students in a timely manner. On the other hand, almost everyone describes *Andy as a "nice gentleman". However, when I brought up to him that I wanted to finish my dissertation before working on more experiments, he stopped reading my drafts. He yelled at me whenever I asked for feedback. He even refused to sign off my PhD until my other advisors stepped in. However, he asked his other student to finish her dissertation before working on more experiments to publish her paper. So, you will never know. Be confident in your choice that she is the advisor whose interest/expertise fits with yours. This is very important for any grad program. All the best!
  5. Hope.for.the.best

    What do you bring when you meet with supervisors?

    These really depend on your advisor. In general, your advisor wishes to hear about how your research is progressing. In my field with lots of experiments, my meetings are largely on experimental plan, difficulties, results and any follow-up work/future direction. My advisor also goes through the feedback on my writing. If you are stuck, probably it is a good idea to clarify with your advisor what is expected of you.
  6. Hope.for.the.best

    Disclosing Mental Health Conditions in Grad School

    Agree with others that you should register with the disability office of your school, and that you should disclose vaguely. Unfortunately, schizophrenia is a mental illness that is highly stigmatized and often labeled as craziness. Unless your advisor happens to know this illness well enough, e.g. someone close to him/her has the illness, it is best to avoid a full disclose. Something alone the line like "a chronic medical condition that may relapse in future", like @lemma said, would give enough information for your advisor to know that you may be unwell at some stage. It would be better to demonstrate that you can do a good job before you consider disclosure, so your performance is not judged by your health. All the best!
  7. Hope.for.the.best

    Journal Submission Process - my first time

    (1) It is actually a good idea to start drafting your manuscript when you think you have enough data to publish. This helps you to see the whole story and identify any loose ends that need to be addressed. (2) Whether you should aim for a top journal depends on the quality of your work. It has nothing to do with what stage of career you are in. It is good that you have a few options in mind. I suggest that you discuss with your advisor. (3) You can hire a copy editor if you are concerned about your English. Otherwise, grab someone who is good at academic English to proofread your manuscript. You don't have to be 100% error free, as many journals have their own editors to edit your accepted manuscript before publishing it. Having said that, your manuscript needs to be written well enough to be understood by your reviewers.
  8. Hope.for.the.best

    Pissed because of favoritism

    I don't know your situation or your grad school well enough to comment, but if that student gets hired as a research assistant, then she is not having money coming in for nothing. It may sound like she is just home chilling, but she can be helping her advisor to analyse data and write manuscripts at home. After all, there is no free lunch in the world. Since you have already been accepted into a PhD program, let the "unfairness" of how that student got her MA go. Well, you have gained the experience in writing and defending your proposal, which is very helpful for your PhD program. Same with the lecturing, having experience in that is very helpful for your career. So in this sense, you are gettng more than that student. I agree with @Eigen that networking with the right people is important. I am not saying that you have done a bad job. Say for me, I might have been pissed off by my cohort too, as I got a postdoc position straight after my PhD. It comes down to some luck, as my current boss has funding and is badly in need of someone with my skill sets. But actually, he has known me for years and is totally aware of what I did in my PhD. Back then, he said a few times that he needed PhD students like me, so I turned to him when I learnt that he received funding. That's how I got my job. Try to connect with more people so you can get to enjoy some "privilege" in future.
  9. You can never know whether your examiners are harsh or not until after they examined your thesis. That said, if it is an internal examiner, you may get some ideas from previous students who got their theses marked by that examiner. If I were you, I would not worry whether the examiner is internal or external, but the expertise of the examiner. Examiners who are renowned for your field and have examined a lot of theses before will most likely have realistic expectations to a master thesis. So go for big professors in your field. I did not pick my examiners for my PhD. My advisors did that. They chose a professor who is well-known in my field internationally. I was quite worried that he would be very harsh and critical, as he knows my research area very well. Turned out, he appreciated my work very much and asked me for some minor corrections only. Feel free to suggest any names and discuss that with your advisor.
  10. Hope.for.the.best

    Moving overseas - anyone else anxious and homesick?

    It is perfectly normal to feel that way. I left home for 9 years to do my undergrad and postgrad. I am still away from home as I have found a job in my university. Even up to now, I still feel homesick and nervous from time to time. As others said, go and make new friends in your new city. You can always catch up with family and friends back home via Skype.
  11. Hope.for.the.best

    Not going to a conference that I am not presenting

    Thanks for your replies again, @TakeruKand @biotechie. My other concern is scooping. Thanks to my nasty main advisor in my PhD, who used an undoable experiment to delay my graduation and manuscript, so he could get me to work as a volunteer, my PhD work has not been published. I have presented some data in conferences, and my dissertation has been made available online, but I would rather not talk about my PhD project anymore until I get my manuscript published. For my postdoc project, many researchers of my field are trying to get experiments like mine to work but without any success. I was fortunate enough to get some success, so I don't wish to share with anybody until I publish a paper. Good news is that I just found out the 2 big speakers of the conference will come to my uni to give the same talks later, so I don't need to stress about meeting them in the conference. My department head has not sent any emails urging everybody to go yet. She normally would do so weeks in advance if she expects everyone to attend. Let's hope that it will be ok for me to not go this time.
  12. Hope.for.the.best

    Not going to a conference that I am not presenting

    Thanks for all your responses. I think I was not clear in my previous post. I have started my postdoc not very long ago. I am still in the process of optimizing experiments. Obviously, my project direction depends on how things go. If these go well, I can get a few more papers out soon and apply for a fellowship. If not, then I need to figure out alternative approaches before I can progress. When the conference happens, I will not have much idea what my project is, other than what I have been doing to set up the project. I doubt it will be impressive to anybody I talk to. What would you think when you meet a postdoc in a conference, and yet that postdoc keeps saying "I don't quite know my project yet, as I am still optimizing my experiments"? I would expect anyone I meet in a conference can talk about their projects in some details. So I don't wish to make a fool of myself. As far as I know, there are other conferences coming up later in the year. I may be in a better position to attend those. Actually, what I meant to ask is, if you were my department head, would you be disappointed if I did not attend the conference? I know she is of good intention to ensure everybody who wants to go can go, as the registration fee is very expensive. She puts huge emphasis on team work. I have demonstrated that by working well with other colleagues. If it ended up that everyone in my department, except me, went to the conference, would I look like a bad team player? Thx!
  13. Hope.for.the.best

    Anxiety about immunology prelim: any tips??

    If you have studied as much as you can, then you have done your best. Take your mind off the exam for now and do something you enjoy over the weekend. Don't forget to get enough sleep the night before the exam. Good luck!
  14. I am now a few months into my postdoc. As I am new to the project, I don't have anything I can present in a conference yet. I just learnt that there is a big conference coming up in my city in a month time. Neither my boss nor the department head has mentioned that attendance is mandatory. I was only asked to complete some experiments so they can present some data in their plenary talks. I have done a good job and they are pleased with that. But then, a PhD student told me that they paid the registration costs for the whole department, and everyone is encouraged to attend. She said she would be going anyway to listen to talks, but without presenting. Actually, I simply don't want to go, as I feel that it is more worthwhile to work on my experiments than wasting days on a conference that I am not presenting. I am aiming to get a few more papers out asap so I can apply for fellowship. The talks of many big people will be uploaded anyway, so I can listen to them later if I wish. Regarding networking, I did get to talk to people in previous conferences, but I did not get to make any big connections. In fact, I made those connections through actual collaboration, rather than from conferences. I know I have all the reasons to not attend, but I worry that I would be perceived negatively, e.g. a poor team player. I am new to the place, and it took me a lot of fight with my PhD advisors to get here. I treasure this opportunity very much. I just don't wish to leave a bad impression, but at the same time, I don't wish to stress myself overly again because I fall behind my experiments. It may be a silly question, but is it actually okay to not attend a conference that I am not presenting, under this situation? Thx!
  15. Hope.for.the.best

    my name on a paper i didn't write??

    It is perfectly okay to have your name on a paper that you didn't write, so long as you contributed to the work. This includes proof of concept experiments and optimizations. In fact, journals nowadays ask all authors to detail their contribution to the manuscript, be it experimental design, performing experiments, data analysis and/or writing. So I don' t think that your professor compensated you because he did not get you in the paper that he planned to submit. I don't fully know your situation, but it may be that you generated data that were later used in another project. If in doubt, it is always a good idea to check with your professor, as you are expected to know any paper that have your name on it.
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