Monday, September 29, 2008

The View from the Foothills

I'm finally there. Five years of hard work, first as an undergraduate and then as a Masters student, have paid off. Last Monday, I was granted my rightful place in academia... on the lowest rung of the ladder.

Yes, PhD students are a dime a dozen, even in my small institute, and despite the excitement of starting research in earnest, I can't help but feel slightly apprehensive. This may just be the result of reading too many PhD comics, but a tinge of anxiety is setting in. What if my advisor turns out to be a workaholic? What if I can't finish in the required 3 1/2 years before my funding runs out? What if my office mates are insane (they're not, I think) or my experiments all fail?

Then I remember that a million students have survived their PhD just fine before me and a million will again. I may not have the prettiest office (in fact, drab is not an inaccurate description), but at least I'm not sharing with 14 other people like my flatmate. My supervisor has only been nice to me, despite the bollocking that he gave his other PhD student last week. And my project, even though it looks daunting from here, will rest on the foundations of my Masters project, meaning that I have a reasonable idea of where to start.

So, the base camp has been established in the foothills of Mt. PhD. Only the future will show if I scale the summit triumphantly, or freeze to death in a crevice somewhere. Boy, that metaphor took a bleak turn, didn't it?