the PhD tribe!

These weeks I have been preparing my thesis proposal review (TPR) which  will be held in August. The TPR consists of  a seminar in which you present your research to the community of your center and special guests. This presentation is accompanied with a written text which is usually an academic paper with the justification of your research, methodology and literature review. Though I feel confident about what I am doing, I am still struggling with some issues about the the theory (Activity theory) and especially in what it refers to the methodology used to gather evidence. I am doing my best.

While I have been working on my TPR, I have been meeting more PhD students. In Canberra, it is more unusual to meet ordinary people than PhD students or post docs. So far, this is my view of this tribe: The PhD gang. This tribe is very varied, there is a group of PhD candidates who are very serious and hardworking. They usually come from Asian countries and they hardly participate in any social activities, they came to the ANU to study and get the PhD in a short period of time. These students usually work everyday non stop from dusk till dawn, they mingle with other Chinese students and with their supervisors.

There is another group of PhD students who are also very committed, but they understand the Phd is not only a degree, but an entire experience to go through. These students usually participate in different seminars, courses and social gatherings. Though they are really committed to their research, they are bright and have got scholarships ;they are never confident if what they are researching is worthy and if they are good enough. They suffer from the impostor syndrome. Though they plan free time activities and hobbies, they usually feel guilty about doing them.

Another group of PhD students corresponds to those who make the most of the “phd experience” . They work hard, they have time for family, friends, and hobbies  and they seem happy. This is a rare group, but you can see some around.They go to conferences around the globe, write papers, go to dancing lessons, enjoy parties, do sports. They are just perfect!

The last group is those ones who do their work as PhD students but more. Yes, they do not only want to get the PhD done, but want to make a contribution to the world. They honestly want to make this world a better place and they work hard for it. They are usually members of clubs, societies and participate in social campaigns. These students are not many, but they inspire and motivate others.

Why I am writing about PhD students? is my research on PhD students? I guess it is just because I am one of them. I am a PhD student. It has taken me a while to acknowledge the fact that my identity somewhat has changed here.

As part of the PhD experience I am crafting a new identity: an identity which represents the practices and self of being a learner, an academic, and a researcher. I struggle to understand what it means to be a PhD student and try to be a proper PhD candidate. I wonder: What do I have to do as a PhD student? How do I have to be and behave as such?  Am I doing research?”

I am an international PhD student in Australia. I am from a latinoamerican developing  country and I came here with a strong conviction of doing research to improve EFL teacher education in my country.

Today was not a very productive day in terms of products, but writing this entry has shed a light on my motives. Then, I’ll stop procrastinating and I’ll work of the methodology.


About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.

One comment

  1. Berta Guzman

    Dear Malba:

    Abby Suderland, 16 years old challenged herself to sail solo in January 2010 around the world, and she did, for 6 months.

    She BELIEVE in herself and overcame to multiple obstacles in her solitary voyage; Solitud, fear, loneliness and weather conditions were part of these obstacles. Yet, she was determined to finish what she started for it was HER DREAM.

    She put her thoughts into actions and was determined to make her dream come true, and enjoy every step of it!! 🙂

    I hope she will inspire you as she has already inspired me. She is one of my heroes (I have a list) 🙂

    Good luck in “your voyage”

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