Hello all, I know it has been a while since my last blog post but today I am coming to you with the latest post of my PhD Chronicles series which is a life update with everything that’s been going on with me over the past couple of months of this crazy 2020! The main reason why I have been away from Thoughts of Chi is because of my beloved PhD and boy let me tell you about my PhD journey so far.
Firstly, if anyone told me I would’ve started my PhD during a worldwide global pandemic I wouldn’t have believed you. Nonetheless, whilst my university was closed because of the first lockdown, I was somewhat been able to cherish time at home being at home and subsequently adjusted to life without the lab. Right now, I am focused on getting to the next checkpoint of this degree — my dreaded transfer report and viva next year.
The lockdown literally came just as I started to get into the flow of my experiments and I was finally producing some decent results. It wasn’t the end of the world because the time away from the lab gave me clarity of what exact experiments I am meant to be doing. Planning my experiments and outlining the schedule of my various studies is helping me to understand the bigger picture of my project. I am also getting an idea of the bigger picture and where it fits in the realm of cardiovascular science and cardiovascular disease. However, since mid-July, I was finally able to get access to enter back into my lab so it took me a while to adjust back into the swing of things but now I can say I am in it (or so I hope lol).
6-Month Progress Report
My 6-month report had me in a chokehold! I was lucky enough that they extended the deadline from the 1st of April however, it took me so long to write the report. Literally, I had to dig out every single atom of my being to complete it because I have been out of the dissertation game for ~ 2 years. It got to the point where I even had to look back at my MSc dissertation for some inspiration on how to start some sections because I got several cases of writer’s block. Also, the researching of different genes from my transcriptomics analysis was at least a week-long struggle alongside trying to gather appropriate literature for critical analysis. It was an extremely tough task but your girl got there in the end! Seriously for 3 weeks, my sleeping pattern did a complete 180 where I was basically a nocturnal being; pretty odd because a section of my report was looking at circadian rhythm (essentially your internal body clock which monitors your day and night cycle). Once this uphill task was completed, I had a virtual meeting with my supervisory committee to give me feedback on my report and some small tips about what my viva will be like. I feel the hardest part of this report was definitely trying to understand my transcriptomics results trying and the implications that they have towards the wider picture of my project. However, now I have a stepping stone in terms of the experiments I will be doing to somewhat verify these results (good old Western Blots).
As some of you know, I am a self-funded student so literally, I’m paying my way through this PhD with the help of respective loans, bank of Mum and Dad and also a part-time job. My previous part-time job in hospitality has been put on hold due to COVID-19 which took a hit on my finances however I have been able to find another part-time supermarket job that fits in with my ever-changing schedule. I’ve had to be even more critical and more strict with how I spend my money and where my money goes. I am grateful that there hasn’t been so much expenditure in terms of my social life and travel due to the lockdown so my personal finances have taken a small turn for the better from last time I spoke about my finances. However, before securing this part-time job, I was on the verge of withdrawing from my PhD due to worries of finances regarding my fees specifically those darn research bench fees. I’m grateful for my supervisor who after a video call was able to propose a less rash option to ensure I can continue doing my research, after all, I have already invested pretty much a year of my life into this project. There is no way that I can quit on this now especially when there have been signs that God’s hand was involved in ensuring I do this PhD. I will definitely be doing a more detailed post about the financial aspect of PhDs when I am in a good position to do so!
Work outside of my PhD
Even though I have been quiet on Thoughts of Chi, I have somewhat been able to stay active on creative hobbies outside of my PhD. Firstly, I posted an article for Sistem Magazine in July where I was detailing my thoughts on the growing problem of gender-based violence in Nigeria (unfortunately I will be having to do another post about my country). I also have been working hard to establish my wig-making business C.I.O Wigs and I have recently launched 3 new accessory products alongside my wig making services. Now more than ever, I know that running a side hustle doing something I love alongside my PhD will be super beneficial to me in the long run! Lastly, one thing I am proud to say is that I was able to get myself involved with Black in Cardio where myself and a group of other like-minded researchers organised a virtual week on social media which provided a platform to reach other black professionals in the cardiovascular field with panel events and Q&A sessions and the like. Honestly, it was such a humbling and awesome experience, so awesome that we have been featured in both Forbes and BioMedCentral. Shoutout to my Black in Cardio co-organisers/family for the experience!
All in all, I hope this post can be of help to PhD students who have passed the 6-month checkpoint or even for prospective students on what to potentially expect at the beginning of their PhD journey (hopefully minus a global pandemic!). I will also advise PhD students to make sure you have hobbies outside of your project as a means to relax and have that healthy study/social balance (check out my self-care tips post). Lastly, I can officially say that I will be back to posting on Thoughts of Chi as a way to keep me to going throughout this degree experience.
Until next time,