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A day in the life of a PhD student

13 March 2018

4 mins

Hello again! Now that the weather is warming up a bit outside, I wanted to take you through a somewhat typical day in the life of a doctoral student at Loughborough University.

My morning begins slowly with the alarm first going off at 7am. I have always been a night owl, so it rarely feels natural to wake up in the morning (despite my advancing years) and it takes me a couple of snoozes, a yoga stretch or three, and a degree of willpower to get me stumbling to the shower.

My partner usually starts our lunches for the day, which I finish up after completing my preparations to greet the day with some measure of enthusiasm. Then, I settle down for breakfast and a little morning news on BBC Breakfast. The morning meal may be as little as tea and toast or can include an egg, cereal or even an avocado depending on how hungry I feel and what’s on hand.

My flat is about a 15-minute walk from the University and I arrive around 9:30 am. My first stop is the Graduate Hub where I spend the morning toiling away at my studies for a few hours before taking a break for lunch.

I rarely buy lunch out given my limited student budget, so I will bring a sandwich or prepare a salad of some sort plus some fruit for a snack during the day. This week was couscous salad with raisins, carrots and spices, including fried halloumi for a little extra protein. Sometimes it may be a three-bean salad, a chickpea salad with Chaat Masala spice or a Mediterranean inspired barley salad.

Unless I have a seminar, workshop or meeting with my supervisors, I then spend the afternoon continuing my research. When modules are in session, I will also be found teaching a tutorial in one of the state-of-the-art classrooms.

At the end of the day, I may walk or if the weather is crummy I will hop on the free campus bus service to go to the gym.

At the campus’s Hollywell fitness centre I take advantage of the cardio and weight machines they have available, followed by stretching and free weights. My favourite two features of the gym are the plants and that the cardio machines all have access to the internet so I can watch documentaries on YouTube, which makes exercising both mental and physical!

After I get home, I’ll make dinner or heat up leftovers. One of my favourite dishes to make recently is dolsot bibimbap, a Korean recipe. My sister got me the hot stone pot as a gift, so while I haven’t managed yet to get it heated to the right temperature to crisp the rice (though I did manage to burn the rice once), I have had a lot of fun making all the individual ingredients and being able to eat a dish at home that before I was only able to get in restaurants offering Korean inspired dishes.

Weekend Vibes

If it is a Friday or the weekend, in addition to spending my time playing games with my partner (e.g., Race for the Galaxy, Dominion or a PS4 game) or doing chores, we may go into town to do some shopping or go see a movie. Last week we went on a date night to eat at Nando’s (my first time!) and to watch the new release at the cinema, Black Panther.

The film was fantastic and for those patient enough to wait through the end credits, two wonderful sentiments are expressed; namely, that we are all more similar than we are different and that the wise build bridges, where the foolish build walls. I definitely recommend watching the movie even if you aren’t into the whole Marvel superhero genre.

From our travels abroad, my partner and I have found that we both love Asian-style dumplings, so usually on the way home we stop to resupply at one of the two stores in Loughborough that carry international food products (including Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Thai). I have heard nearby Leicester has more specialized international food stores, and even though it is a 15-minute train ride and less than an hour bus ride, I have not made it there yet. I plan to go soon now that the weather is better as I’d like to also visit the free New Walk Museum and Art Gallery. If I get a chance to visit, maybe I will write about it in my next blog!

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