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Hope.for.the.best last won the day on July 22

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  1. Hope.for.the.best

    Inviting toxic advisors to my graduation

    Thank you for both your replies. @enstor2639 You are right that I don't need reference letters from them, as *Ben and other academics in his department can do one if the need arises. I actually bumped into *Andy the other day. He greeted me very nicely and asked about my graduation date. He indicated that he would love to come. I only said I would get back to him later. Yes, he may not keep his promise like offering paid employment, but not inviting him and *Cecilia will just give them another reason to send rude emails. They can justify that I don't regard them as my advisors. To be honest, it is true. I don't care what they think, but certainly this does not look good to *Ben, even though he is aware of their nasty behaviors. So, it seems like I'd better invite them, and pray that they won't come. @Sigaba I have definitely taken the feedback I received to heart. I certainly won't care whether I get invited by someone who cares little about me. The trouble here is the manuscript in question has not been published, so in some ways, I still need to deal with *Andy and *Cecilia. I can't completely burn the bridge just yet. *Ben has already defused the situation by asking me to not meet them in person (he meets them instead), as they are going to let out all their anger/disappointment to me instead of discussing the manuscript. In their minds, I am all wrong by starting a postdoc with *Ben, but not volunteering for them until I finish what they want me to do (not just that one experiment for that manuscript, but many more). They cannot show their anger towards *Ben, as this just makes them look very bad, so they turn to me instead. They naively think that they would look better by assigning blame to their student. My question is more like how I deal with them properly if they come to my graduation, rather than inviting them or not. Anyway, I will try my best to fake a smile if they choose to come, but things will certainly get awkward.
  2. Hope.for.the.best

    Inviting toxic advisors to my graduation

    I know this is probably a ridiculous post, but it is something that has been bothering me. Long story short, my PhD advisors (all pseudonyms), *Andy and *Cecilia got mad at me for not finishing an experiment as a volunteer, but accepted a full-time job from my other advisor, *Ben, in a different department. They sent rude emails to me, cc to *Ben. *Ben was understanding of the situation and talked to them in person. After negotiation, they agreed that I spent some time at work to complete that experiment, so we could finish a manuscript. Turned out, that experiment is technically impossible to do. I thus thought of an alternative and presented that to *Ben. *Ben was pleased with my proposal and asked me to set up a meeting with *Andy and *Cecilia, so we could sit down and discuss. I emailed them twice, only to get a reply from *Cecilia that I should discuss with *Andy, so I followed up with *Andy with another email. However, I received no reply at all. *Ben then asked me to just finish off the manuscript and sent to them. They read the draft and made edits to polish it. Both *Ben and I thought they were happy with the manuscript as it was. Out of nowhere, however, they sent rude emails to me again (cc to *Ben), saying that they wanted that experiment to be done but I ignored them, and I have disregarded their good heart to help me succeed. *Ben was again supportive and met them in person. They finally realized that the experiment was indeed un-doable, and reluctantly agreed that we should just finish the manuscript and send. Since then, they were professional in emails as before. Finally, they are willing to let go of their roles as advisors and acknowledge that *Ben is now my boss. I am still taken aback by the whole dilemma. I can see why they were upset with me working for *Ben (as discussed in my previous thread https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/103639-have-i-been-rudeimpolite-to-my-advisors/?tab=comments#comment-1058591759). However, I still cannot understand why they got mad at me for an un-doable experiment, especially when I have provided reasons and an alternative. I even requested for a meeting to go through my proposal. It was them who ignored me and then came back to accuse me of ignoring them. How irrational are they! Now, I am about to have my PhD graduation. It is certainly a courtesy to invite all advisors. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for *Andy and *Cecilia in helping me to finish PhD, but after all these incidents, I simply don't want to see them again! To be honest, I only want *Ben to be there. I know it does not look good if I only invite *Ben, so do you guys have any good suggestions on how I should cope with *Andy and *Cecilia at my graduation? Yes, a smile and thank you will probably get me through, but I simply can't fake a smile. Even thinking of them now makes my jaw so tensed up that I cannot smile. It is just bad that I dread my graduation when I should look forward to it Thanks.
  3. Hope.for.the.best

    Failed my first exam

    It is easy to fall for your feelings and believe that they are true. Would failing one exam be sufficient to conclude that you are not smart enough for grad school? As you may aware, one exam is considered n = 1, and you need more independent observations to draw a conclusion. The way to get out of this is to objectively evaluate the situation. Were you the only student who failed? Based on the fact that your professor dropped the lowest test grade, it may mean a lot of students failed as well. Of course, that is not to say you should ignore the exam. Try to reflect on why you could not pass - was it because you did not understand the topic thoroughly? Was it because you crammed your study the night before the exam? If you are stuck, it is always a good idea to consult your professor how you can improve. Finding out the reason why you did not do well is key to perform well in future exams. It is perfectly okay though to feel upset about the exam result, but set yourself a time limit to this, e.g. a couple of days. After that, you should divert your focus to your studies. It may sound like I have not said anything useful, but that was how I coped with unsatisfactory exam results. Hope that helps you.
  4. Hope.for.the.best

    I need help surviving my PhD

    I hear you. I have gone through a terribly stressful time leading up to the completion of my PhD. Even though I was not depressed, I got a lot of anxiety, due to the seemingly unachievable deadline and two toxic advisors. I too just wanted to get the hell out of it. Feel free to read my previous posts if you are interested. I second the above advice that you should go to your school counsellor. Or call a local mental health helpline. It would also help if you can talk to friends /family members who have gone through the PhD journey. They cannot help you to finish your PhD, but an understanding ear is all you need for a tough time like this. Looking at your post, I have a few other suggestions. (1) Work out a timetable for the next 11 months to complete your thesis, e.g. finish all analysis by Nov 2018, finish chapters 1 and 2 by Dec 2018. Agree with your advisor a feedback and turnaround schedule. This way, you put things into perspectives, so you feel less overwhelmed. (2) Try your best to take the weekends off. You don't have to go and hang out with your friends if you don't feel like to, although it would be good if you can. Sometimes, even staying at home and doing nothing can help switch your mind off. You can turn some soothing music on if you don't like the silence at your home. Remember, you simply can't work 24/7. (3) Prioritise sleep. Write a feasible to-do list for each day and stop all work 2 hours before you go to bed. Do something relaxing like meditation. For me, a hot shower is what it takes to get me ready for sleep. There are a lot of strategies for a good night sleep online. If you have tried hard but you still can't sleep well, you should consult your doctor. (4) You have not mentioned anything about diet, but it is also important that you eat well. A balanced diet is key for functioning. Feel free to write back/pm me if you want to chat more. Wish you all the best!
  5. Hope.for.the.best

    Anybody else applying to a PhD straight out of undergrad?

    I applied and did my PhD straight out of undergrad (now a postdoc). Yes, many students have been working in the lab as research assistants for a while, which means they have more research experiences, but you will catch up eventually. Don't worry about being younger than most students. Doing a PhD requires a lot of time commitment and it can be challenging to fit that in when you also have family commitments like young children. So it is actually an advantage to do a PhD earlier in your life. I am happy to talk more about my experience if you are interested
  6. Hope.for.the.best

    Impact of school disciplinary action?

    It is very difficult to tell how impactful your previous disciplinary actions are on your career. Apparently, advisors or prosective employers can find out about you by contacting your previous institutions. You don't have to disclose these to your advisors/employers if you don't get asked, but you'd better be honest if you do get asked, like on your application form. If you get caught on lying, you will end up with another bad record on your file, which is even worse for you.
  7. Hope.for.the.best

    Teamwork gone awry

    I think that's where the problem comes from. You have unknowingly "allowed" her to have your data and work on your parts. Since she has done that in the past and you were apparently fine with that, she assumes that you will also be fine this time. I am not saying that she is right. I agree that she should stick to her part and you stick to yours. This is what it means by teamwork. Since you indicated that both of your parts still need a lot of work, you can still do something to "reclaim" your part. If I were you, I would meet with her privately to bring up the issues/concerns. It is very important that you don't go and confront her in front of other colleagues, as this will humiliate her and do damages for sure. Perhaps you could say something like, "I am aware that you have been working on such and such, which is supposed to be my part. I am thankful for your input and contribution, but I would prefer that we work on our own parts that we have agreed to." If she is genuinely curious and wants to take challenges, then she should realize at this point that you are upset, and hopefully, stop "scooping" your part. I would not recommend going to your advisor directly as your very first step, especially if he/she is the type who likes to blame/criticize people. Your colleague would not be happy that you report her to your advisor and then she gets blamed. This is going to create tension between you two. However, if your advisor happens to be like mine, who is very good at dealing with people and managing conflicts, then bringing that up to your advisor on top of talking to her individually is helpful. What my advisor would do in this situation would be approaching her to find out where she's up to, and then reminds her that she should be working on her part. Of course, if things do not work out after you kindly talk to your colleague, then you have to bring that up to your advisor. Hope it works out.
  8. Hope.for.the.best

    Embarrassing incident at prof's house

    Sorry to hear what happened to you, but thankfully, you are fine. Well, accidents do happen, and that's life. I am pretty sure your grad chair was more concerned whether you were okay than the fact that you were naked when he and his daughter found you in the shower. Yes, it's embarrassing, but it was totally out of your control that you got food all over you and then slipped in the shower and hit yourself. I would suggest that you try your best to take things easy and attend the progress update meeting as if nothing has happened. He will probably ask about your injury, just like any other grad students who care about you. If you are not comfortable with going into the details, i.e. thank you for the clothes and shower, then a plain simple "I am fine, thank you" will do. Then focus on what you need to go through with him in the meeting. Remember, that meeting is about your progress, not the incident at his house!
  9. Hope.for.the.best

    What happens at a Masters oral defense

    In my experience, professors tend to ask questions related to your study, especially on the rationale and limitations. As long as you know your study well and can justify it, you should be fine. You may come across questions that you have not thought about/no answers for. Don't panic. Just thanks for the question/suggestion and indicate that you will look into that in future. This tactic should get you through most of the time. Occasionally, you may then be asked for your thoughts on these difficult questions. In this case, the professor is more like determining whether you can think broader based on your findings/knowledge than giving you a difficult time. Something like, "Based on what we know so far, it might be such and such, which we need to look into further." It is of course okay to ask for a practice defense, preferably one in front of your department, if possible. This way, you get to present in front of others and get some questions. Good luck!
  10. 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!
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. 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!

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